Treadmill Running: A Necessary Evil For Harsh Weather

by Jeff Burtka

Looks dangerous!
Are you sick of risking frostbite and death trying to run when the windchill is more than 20 below zero?

Are you tired of running 2 to 3 minutes per mile slower than normal because you're trudging through 6 inches to a foot of unplowed snow?

Are you fed up with risking injury or death on sidewalks and roads that are a patchwork of cleared pavement and paper-thin patches of ice?

So much slush and ice. 
Have you tried various spikes and cleats but think they are too uncomfortable on hard surfaces?

There has got to be a better way!

What if I told you there is?

It's called a treadmill.

Best investment I ever made
Sure, it's a medieval torture device under most circumstances, but it is sometimes the only way for those of us living in the northern U.S. and Canada to get in meaningful miles. I hate running on my treadmill, but I love it for giving me the ability to keep getting in miles throughout the winter.

So how does one survive weeks of running indoors on the treadmill?

Motivational playlists: I have multiple playlists for speedwork and tempo running on the treadmill. I don't listen to music when running outside, so this is the time for me to listen to my old school hip hop and punk music to help me keep my legs churning.

Netflix and Chill Treadmill: I have binge-watched many shows on the treadmill during the winter. It's also a great opportunity for me to watch movies that my wife isn't interested in watching. So find your favorite streaming service and catch up on those shows and movies you've been missing out on.

Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks: I tend not to listen to podcasts or audiobooks, especially not while running, but I have listened to podcasts on the elliptical a few times. Mario Fraioli's the morning shakeout is a great podcast for runners, and I really loved this one featuring Bart Yasso.

Play with the Treadmill Settings: If you can adjust incline and decline settings, try mimicking hill runs. You can even find info online to simulate the hills on popular marathon courses, like this post about simulating the Boston Marathon hills. If you don't have a treadmill that inclines or don't enjoy pretend hills, you can vary the speed to avoid boredom.

An App is Out There*: There are several fitness apps out there that can be used for treadmill running that include simulated guided runs and coaching. As someone who usually follows a training plan, I haven't tried these, but some people swear by them.

If none of the above works for you, I don't know what else to tell you, except spring will eventually get here.

*I was going to use another phrase, but apparently some tech giant named after a fruit trademarked it.