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  • Matt McClintock

4 Treadmill Workouts to Smash This Winter


Winter sucks, growing up in Central Maine, I know all too well the struggles many runners face during the months of November through March. A sudden 6+ inches of snow and ice can derail even the most open and fluid of training programs. Thankfully many runners have access to treadmills allowing them to keep grinding out their mileage during even the cruelest of winter storms, but what about when that 6+ inches of snow lands smack dab on your quality day? Risking injury while simultaneously getting little return on your efforts, while maybe the “tough” or “dedicated” thing to do, does little to bolster your chances of long-term success in this sport. With that in mind, I offer you four of my favorite treadmill workouts while braving the winter months in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Climbing Tempos


Treadmills, though a last resort for many runners, actually provide so valuable tools that many runners struggle to find in their everyday terrain, namely sustained uphill routes. I find that hilly running, particularly in the very early stages of a training block, allows runners to focus on good mechanics and effort-based running. A staple workout we use at ZAP are what I call 'cycle climbing tempos', in a 1/1/1 or 2/2/2 format.


So, let me slow down for just a minute, any athlete knows the first thing whenever they begin working with a coach is to learn their particular style of dialogue so let me break that last sentence down. First, cycles refer to any repeated pattern of running where one progressively speeds up at regular intervals before slowing back down. The 1/1/1 or 2/2/2 refers to the duration of each segment of the cycle. So, for example a segment of 1/1/1 cycles might be 1 minute at 7:05 pace, 1 minute at 6:58 pace, and 1 minute at 6:53 pace before cycling back to the beginning with 1 minute at 7:05 pace.


At ZAP, we often use this cycling format for organic effort-based climbs in Moses Come park, but we also use them for more specific and controlled tempos on the treadmill. Below, is a treadmill tempo session I did just last Saturday in a 2/2/2 cycle format.


/ 2' @ 5:24/1.0% 2x. 2' @ 5:21/2.0% \ 2' @ 5:15/3.0% / 2' @ 5:15/0.0% 2x. 2' @ 5:10/1.0% \ 2' @ 5:07(:05 2nd)/3.0% / 2' @ 5:02/1.0% 2x. 2' @ 4:57/1.0% \ 2' @ 4:55/1.5% / 2' @ 4:57/1.0% 1x. 2' @ 4:52/2.0% \ 2' @ 4:50/3.0%


4' easy


4x2' @ 4:39/4:36/4:34/4:32 w/ 2' easy


Let me breakdown how I record this in my log the tempo section of the workout was 42 minutes. I did each cycle two times before moving on to the next cycle, so for example I ran 2 minutes at 5:24 pace at 1% grade. 2 minutes at 5:21 pace at 2% grade and 2 minutes 5:15 pace at 3% grade. I then repeated that whole cycle again (for a total of 12 minutes) before


moving on to the next cycle. Note, this was all a continuous process of speeding up and slowing down as the entire workout progressively got faster. In this particular case we finished up with 4x2' intervals in the neighborhood of 10k pace for a touch of economy after running long and steady.


To put this particular workout into more broad terms for you to adapt to your own training... Please note it is important to adjust the duration of a tempo-based session in relation to your unique weekly running volume. this total session came out to be 16 miles (including warm up and cooldown) for me, or roughly 1/7 of my weekly running volume. So, if you were an athlete running 30 mpw, look at making this tempo session closer to 24 minutes instead of the full 42' I have described below.


/ 2' @ MP + 20"/1.0% 2x. 2' @ MP + 15"/2.0% \ 2' @ MP + 10"/3.0% / 2' @ MP + 10"/0.0% MP=Marathon Pace 2x. 2' @ MP + 5"/1.0% \ 2' @ MP +2"/3.0% / 2' @ MP/1.0% 2x. 2' @ MP - 4"/1.0% \ 2' @ MP - 6"/1.5% / 2' @ MP - 4"/1.0% 1x. 2' @ MP - 8"/2.0% \ 2' @ MP - 10"/3.0%

4' easy

4x2' @ 10k pace w/ 2' easy

Blend Workouts


Blend Workouts, also referred to as Michigan Workouts, are some of my favorite workouts to run. In these sessions you combine short periods of fast running at near VO2Max effort with longer periods of tempo-based training (in the case of the workouts I prescribe, in the cycle format from the previous section. Below, is an example of a session I did proceeding the Michigan Pro Half Marathon last October.


5:30 @ 4:33/1% (2:45 @ 13.1/2:45 @ 13.2)

4' easy

/ 1' @ 5:07/1% \

2x 1' @ 5:05/2%. \

\ 1' @ 5:02/2% \

/ 1' @ 5:05/1%. \

2x 1' @ 5:02/2%. \

\ 1' @ 5:00/3% 21' @ 5:01avg

/ 1' @ 5:02/0%. /

2x 1' @ 5:00/1%. /

\ 1' @ 4:55/2%. /

1x 3' @ 4:55/.5%/

4' easy

3:45 @ 4:29/1% (2:00 @ 13.3/1:45 @13.4)

4' easy

/ 1' @ 5:00/-1%\

2x 1' @ 4:55/1%. \

\ 1' @ 4:52/2%. \

/ 1' @ 4:57/1%. 14' @ 4:54avg

2x 1' @ 4:52/1%. /

\ 1' @ 4:50/2%. /

1x 2' @ 4:50/.5%/

4' easy

2:30 @ 4:25/1% (1:15 @ 13.5/1:15 @ 13.6)

3:30 easy

/ 1' @ 4:50/-1% \

2x 1' @ 4:48/1%. 8' @ 4:45avg

\ 1' @ 4:43/2% /

1x 2' @ 4:40/.5% / (12.7/.8/.9/13.0 on 30's)

3' easy

3x30" @ 4:08/4:04/4:00 w/ 75" rest


As you can see, I ran the 'interval' pieces starting at about 10k pace, each subsequent interval was slightly short and slightly faster. the same can be said for the tempo sections. I don't have a whole lot of specifics to give you about this particular session as it really is a simply a modified version of the climbing tempos I gave you in the previous section. However, while the simple climbing tempo serves very well as an early season aerobic base workout.

The blend workouts such as these fit much better into the main block of a cycle, when you are looking for a workout the simulates some of the pace changes you will see on race day, particularly in races of half marathon and longer when sustained periods of relatively controlled running are common. Below I will detail a broader version of this workout for your own use. As I mentioned above, it is important to adapt these sessions to your specific volume and workout history.


5:30 @ 10k pace/1%

4' easy

/ 1' @ MP + 7"/1%

2x 1' @ MP + 5"/2%.

\ 1' @ MP + 2"/2%

/ 1' @ MP + 5"/1%.

2x 1' @ MP + 2"/2%.

\ 1' @ MP/3%

/ 1' @ MP + 2"/0%.

2x 1' @ MP/1%.

\ 1' @ MP-5"/2%.

4' easy

3:45 @ 10k - 5"

4' easy

/ 1' @ MP/-1%

2x 1' @ MP - 5"/1%.

\ 1' @ MP - 8"/2%.

/ 1' @ MP - 3"/1%.

2x 1' @ MP - 8"/1%.

\ 1' @ MP - 10"/2%.

1x 2' @ MP - 10"/.5%

4' easy

2:30 @ 5k pace

3:30 easy

/ 1' @ MP - 10"/-1%

2x 1' @ HM /1%.

\ 1' @ HM - 5"/2%

3' easy

3x30" @ Mile pace


Hill Repeats


In the first section, I mentioned how treadmills actually provide you with the useful tool of being able to run at sustained uphill grades, something most runners do not have access too. With regard to hill repeats, the treadmill provides you with the exact opposite benefit! The ability to run short fast distances uphill without having to take a long drawn out rest all the way back to the bottom of the hill.


Hill repeats in this manner serve a very meaningful purpose early in the training cycle by allowing runners to properly training glute and prime mover activation during the stride, but also increase the strength and power of the glutes and prime movers while simultaneously improving a runner's overall biomechanics (just try to over-stride while sprinting up a hill. I dare you).



There really is no fancy diagram I can show you for these sessions they really are quite simple. Try throwing in 8x30" at 5k-3k pace on a 3% grade w/ 1' easy jog in between each during the final 20' of a regular run. For a more specific session, try something to the effect of 10x90"-2' starting at 10k pace (work toward 5k pace) on a 2-3% grade w/ equal rest. These are very open ended and effort-based type workouts that may seem relatively inconsequential at the time (trust me, 10x90" doesn't feel by much after 12xmile!), but they really serve a great purpose in the long run.


Intervals

https://www.runtothefinish.com

Finally, intervals, it's almost so simple you didn't think of it. With a little math (and a fast enough treadmill) you really can simulate nearly any interval session indoors. For example, let's say you are doing 8x800m @ 5k pace. If your 5k pace is 7:00 per mile, setting the treadmill to that pace and then running for 3:30 would give you a very close simulation of an 800m repeat (within a few meters) couple specifics with regard to these. I would recommend doing all your intervals at .5% to 1% grade, not only does this help simulate the biomechanics of outdoor running a little more efficiently, but it also serves to compensate for the loss of wind resistance you suffer by staying in one spot. To the right is a handy chart of paces, grades, and the equivalent efforts of some combination of the two. When I do these sessions, I like to set the treadmill to the interval I am running and then drop myself onto it using the safety rails. Obviously, this strategy isn't for everyone so it's perfectly ok to begin ramping up the pace prior to the start of your rep and just hit the start button on your watch when you hit the desired pace. Remember, most treadmills don't immediately go to the given pace but take some time to speed up. Our with our treadmills at ZAP, I begin ramping up the pace about 30" before I actually intend to start the rep. So, if I am taking 3 minutes rest between intervals, I begin speeding the treadmill up at about 2:30. Below, for fun and as an example, I have a copy of a mile repeats session I did about a month ago.


5:05 @ 5:05/2%

2' easy

5:00 @ 5:00/2%

2' easy

5:00 @ 5:00/2%

2' easy

4:57 @ 4:57/2%

2' easy

4:57 @ 4:57/2%

2' easy

4:57 @ 4:57/2%

2' easy

4:55 @ 4:55/2%

2' easy

4:50 @ 4:50/1%

2' easy

4:45 @ 4:45/1%


Being a very early season workout, I elected to keep the paces a touch slower, but the effort higher by keeping the grade higher on most of the reps for the reason I described in the hill repeats section. Improved biomechanics and power.


I hope these workouts will be helpful to you as we approach this last 6 weeks. 3 months if you are from central Maine or anywhere along the Canadian border, of winter. The most important thing amongst all this advice is to remember that your fitness is not built in a day and it will also not be lost in a day. Be flexible, allow your schedule to be changed and when you can simulate, to the best of the abilities, the session you were trying to accomplish. Slightly modifying one session is always a better alternative than trying to push through and inevitably injuring yourself slipping on the snow or ice. Best of luck and if you try any of these sessions, be sure to tag or message me @runmattrun11 on instagram!





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