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11855 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: Feb 2, 2011 12:55 PM by stbiker
jctridoc Rookie 1 posts since
Nov 8, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 20, 2011 3:49 PM

Is the treadmill my only option?

I have been training for a marathon in April and have built up to a long run of 13 miles, but now there is a foot of snow on the ground and no hope for temperatures to rise for some of it to melt.  (highs are in the teens)  I am supposed to do a 15 mile run this weekend and am dreading trying to tackle the treadmill for almost 3 hours - (I have already done 2- 7mile runs on the treadmill this week... and am not sure I can double that for a solid run).  Perhaps another combination of training that I can get the same benefit from? I can cycle and swim or even a suggestion of a combo work out of other cardio machines that would be equivalent to a long run. I have tried "MotionTraxx" - which have gotten me through the long treadmill runs...but not too many are made for runs over an hour.  Help....

  • crl8686 Legend 1,313 posts since
    Nov 11, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jan 20, 2011 10:05 PM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    Aerobic crosstraining will improve your aerobic capacity, but it can't simulate the pounding of running. Especially since you're training for a marathon, you need to run - especially the long run.

    Is there a track nearby - either an indoor track, or alternatively an outdoor track that's kept cleared of snow, perhaps at a local high school or college where the track team depends on it? You could use the track for all or part of your runs. You could, for example, do half the long run on the track and then do the remaining half on the treadmill, or vice versa. Of course, a track isn't 100% perfect - especially if the track is banked, you need to reverse direction during the long run if at all possible - and it does have a boredom factor. However, it would probably be more tolerable than 3 straight hours on the treadmill.

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  • andyrich Rookie 2 posts since
    Jan 13, 2011
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    2. Jan 21, 2011 8:54 AM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    Hi, I have been reading 'The competitive running guide" by Bob Glover, and he noted that if you have been keeping your mileage up and your long runs up, it is OK to skip a long run once in a while.  Just do not make a habit out of it, and try to stay on schedule if you can.  You still have a good bit of time to train before April, so consider taking a day off.


    He also says that it is OK to replace up to 20% of your mileage with cross training activities.


    Keep in mind that if you get hurt from running on the track or in the snow, it will be tough to train for the marathon. Running a long run on a treadmill does seem rather boring, and could create mental fatigue and burnout.


    I wonder if you could get creative, though with the locations you run.  For example, is there any place that the snow is cleaned up such as sidewalks or even a strip mall with awnings?  Of course, I would no know to much about running in the snow, as I am here on the coast of SC, where snow is scarce...



    Andy at jogging tips

  • bennybargain Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 12, 2010
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    3. Jan 24, 2011 9:53 AM (in response to andyrich)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    how about getting some yaktrax and heading out

  • atrain1016 Amateur 36 posts since
    Aug 18, 2009
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    4. Jan 26, 2011 10:05 AM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    I'm with benny. I'm training for a marathon as well in May and while we don't have a foot of snow and its not nearly as cold, I'd rather do battle with old man winter than the treadmill. I just bought waterproof trail runners that work fantastic and layer up with a weather proof shell on top and when its super cold a balaclava. Its looking like its going to be a long, cold, snowy winter so why not just make the best of it?

  • Dog-lover Legend 373 posts since
    Mar 5, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jan 26, 2011 10:35 AM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    I've been doing spring marathons for 4 yrs now and I live in Minnesota so I understand your pain.  My recommendation is to tough it out and try to get those long runs in on the treadmill the best you can.  Here is what I do.  I use YakTrax's and run 4-6 miles a day outside in the snow and ice.  I also do 3-6 miles per day (5 days per week) on the treadmill during the week.  On weekends I do a 3-4 mile run outside on Saturday and then my long run on the Treadmill on Sunday (bummer)  What I've found is that usually by late February into March I can get outside for my long runs and it works great for a early May marathon.  I believe the biggest and most important part of  long runs is to train your body to take the pounding for the 3-4 hours it takes to do the long runs and to strengthen your legs, core and heart.  So, in my opinion I would try hard to get through those treadmill long runs in, you'll be so much happier once your marathon comes.  I feel your pain though,  I've got a 15 miler coming up this weekend..... yuck!!! 


    Good luck and I hope the weather changes for you soon!!



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  • JBerglund Rookie 1 posts since
    Jan 26, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jan 26, 2011 1:01 PM (in response to Dog-lover)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    If you normally run your long runs slower than your marathon goal pace, you could do a shorter goal pace workout instead, say 10 miles with the first and last two at a warm-up/cool-down pace and the middle 6 at goal pace.  At least this will be a little shorter on the treadmill and still be a useful workout.  You may even be able to find someplace outdoors to do the short and slow warm up and cool down parts.  In my experience, the hardest part about long runs in bad road conditions is the length of time you have to concentrate on not slipping on the ice.  Toward the end, the mental fatigue makes it nearly impossible to stay focused on being careful.  Cutting down the amount of time outside may help.

  • JasonFitz1 Legend 578 posts since
    Jun 19, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jan 26, 2011 1:50 PM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    The long run is the #1 most important workout for marathoners - swimming/spinning/pool running just won't cut it. Nothing will simulate the physical demands like being on your feet for 2-3 hours. You have a few options:


    • Get some Yak Trax or similar product and brave the snow.
    • Wait until Sunday until the roads/sidewalks are cleared
    • Brave the treadmill (half the run on the treadmill, then change to go outside?)
    • Quit running because it's just too hard


    Option 4 is easiest, but you're too tough to pick it.


    Good luck this weekend...I'm in the same boat.


    - Fitz.

    Strength Running
  • ron6788 Pro 85 posts since
    Oct 2, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Jan 28, 2011 8:55 PM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

         Hi.  I'm not sure what the problem is, I mean what are you dreading about the treadmill?  If you told me you were dreading going out to run in cold and wind that I could see dreading but being safe and warm indoors?  If it's just the boredom of running on a treadmill, well, isn't running itself kind of a repetitive monotony, i.e., boring?  I keep myself amused, indoors or out, by thinking of stuff, concentrating on my form, and just 'zoning out' from time to time.

         What I've discovered in myself, not saying it necessarily applies to you, is that the times I dreaded doing my workouts on the treadmill were because of the unrelenting nature of the machine and the fact that I wasn't really up to it.  What I mean is I couldn't fool myself on the machine and do a slower pace or less distance or just stop here and there- all things that can easily be done outside.

         So, who needs it? I'd rather do my winter training on the treadmill where I know exactly the pace and time I'm doing, where I can dial in hill work or speed intervals at my convenience, and where I'll know just how long my breaks are.  I just did a 3-hr run inside this past Wed- my first one- and I think it went great!  I was real happy with my finish because I still had some pep left.  After each hour, I took a 3-4 min break, to rehydrate, have an energy gel, and to rest the motor of the treadmill.  So, you might say, I did occasionally look at the timer and count down how much time til the hour was up and I could take a break.

         As long as I'm running pain-free, I'll continue with my all indoors winter training.  I'm also training for my first marathon this Spring.  Good luck to you.  Of course, my advice would be to stick it out with the machine and show it who's boss.


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  • WayneSxc Rookie 3 posts since
    Jan 15, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Jan 30, 2011 1:33 PM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    Not sure where you are located but here in the Northeast we have pleanty of snow on the ground and most people I run with still manage to get out and run. Yes  the treadmill is always an option but, well you know....


    Try to get creative:

    -Check out your local running club.


    -Look for a weekly local race series, there are quite a few in NE. A lot of people are in the same boat as you and get there early, run the course, run the race, run the course again. You may find a lot of people are doing it.


    Look for a local park our neighborhood that has plowed streets. Even multiple loops would work.


    Try snowshoes, seriously. There is a snowshoe race around here almost every weekend and you can use the same tactic as above, get there early, long warmup, race, cooldown.


    Also, keep in mind you will expend more effort & energy on snow. Run for time, forget the mileage in winter.


    Last but not least- HAVE FUN! Spring will be here before you know it.



    WayneS X-C

  • Cumbrian Amateur 33 posts since
    Aug 19, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Jan 31, 2011 9:05 AM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    Yep, I'm feeling your pain also. I'm in CT and we've had 54" in January alone, with another storm on the way tomorrow. (OK, I know there are other places getting way more than us but .... !!!) The main problem I'm finding this winter isn't necessarily the snow/ice/cold - I'll run through that and have all the gear to do so. It's the fact that we've had so much snow the roads are now very narrow with plowed banks about 5-6' high and there's just nowhere to get out of the way of the cars. I love running outside and hate the treadmill but I've had to come to terms with the fact that in the dark at five in the morning it's too dangerous to be out there. I have a limited amount of time before work so I can't afford the time to drive elsewhere to get to somewhere safer. And with a reasonablly good treadmill in the basement I'm resigned to using that until we get a break. It sucks but it sucks way less than not running. And I'm catching up on TV shows...

  • LemonaidLucy Legend 332 posts since
    Sep 19, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Feb 2, 2011 12:07 AM (in response to jctridoc)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    Bad news: you can't replace long runs...good news, you can run outside even in the snow If it's soft fresh snow, it will also work as a light strength training for you. Same goes for wet slush (better get some debris gaiters so the snow doesn't get to your shoes). If it's packed snow, it is the easiest. You can use your normal running shoes although if you have trail shoes it would be more comfortable. Iced snow is the worst, trail shoes don't help, you'd need some yaktrax but I've done without them too. Better if you land midfoot and not heel strike (you won't slip). Have been with all kids of snow/ice since November so I have plenty of experience


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  • stbiker Rookie 2 posts since
    Feb 2, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Feb 2, 2011 12:55 PM (in response to LemonaidLucy)
    Re: Is the treadmill my only option?

    Three words: ipod, bottle and tape


    ipod: I do over 50 miles a week on a treadmill (a bit over 10 each weekday), but without an ipod to listen to the latest books and the latest pop music (download both from itunes), I couldn't do 2 miles!


    bottle: one and sometimes two water-bottles must be there, so I don't have any business stepping out of the belt.


    tape: is there to cover the face of the treadmill, so I won't be able to count how much longer or how many miles I have ahead.


    Weekends, I finally get to run on asphalt, but before heading out I warm up for 30-40 minutes on the treadmill, so by the time I hit the streets my body can tackle the winter factor like it's spring time!


    Have fun!

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