Thursday, September 8, 2011

Intervals on the Treadmill

As of yesterday, I finished the part of my marathon training program that includes 400 meter repeats every Wednesday, starting with 6 and peaking (twice) at 16.  With 16 intervals, that's like 4 miles of running pretty darn fast.  I was running mine from 7:48-8:00 min/mi pace (about 1:55-2:00 per lap).

You might remember that I spent two years in high school competing in Track and Field, and "my" event was the 400 meter dash.  Of course, I always felt that 400 meters is WAY too far for a dash, but I pretty much tapered off at a 1:10-1:11 pace per lap (that's a 4:40-4:44 mile for those who are keeping track).  When we practiced, we did 10-12 repeats, and I would run them at about 1:20 per lap (about 5:20 per mile).

There is pretty much a snowball's chance in Hades that I could run those sort of paces again, and these days, it seems even tougher to get to an actual track to run these.  My high school got a nice rubber track over the years, upgraded from sand, yet with one exception**, it is locked each time I go there.  I even asked my best bud, who also happens to be the city mayor, to work it out, but after a month after his e-mail commands to some staff, I have yet to see it open when I need it.

**(The one exception was once this past winter when it was 34 degrees outside, and sprinting just froze my face.  I quickly decided to take my workout elsewhere.)

So... instead of gambling with the (hot) elements, concrete sidewalks, and too much elevation variation for effective intervals, I did all of these interval workouts on the treadmill

It went something like this:

- Start up treadmill, incline at 0.5, speed 3.7 mph (<-- click HERE for a treadmill pace conversion chart)
- Walk for .1 mi (I realize this is little rest, but I am usually crunched for time)
- Run from .1 mi to .35 mi
- Run your interval: Start vamping up to desired speed at .09 mi and start turning it down at .34
- Keep track of your completed interval!
- Walk for .1 mi
- Run from .45 mi to .70... (yes, this process requires doing math in your head while running, but it's a welcome distraction)
... continue until you reach the number of intervals needed and cool down by walking and stretching (OFF the treadmill, of course!)

Notes about keeping track of intervals:

- Be creative!  I am a minimalist and don't like to bring too much with me to the treadmill, so I use the little TV audio receiver that is strapped onto some treadmills to keep track of my intervals.  It goes from Ch 1-9, so if I do 16, I just keep flipping through the channels each time I finish a lap until it hits 7 for the second time.

- I have also tried bringing a throwaway paper and making a tear in it each time I completed a lap, or I guess you could even use your cell phone if you bring that with you (I don't)

Have you tried doing intervals indoors?  Any little tricks that make this easier?


  1. The channel idea is great! Very creative! I like running intervals. They are super hard work, but it makes the miles fly by when you are working hard and breaking it up with rest.

  2. I've never tried running intervals on a treadmill. I'm lucky enough to have a track at work/school. Maybe you could use a Garmin and just hit lap after each interval? I've never done 16, but I think even with a watch I'd lose count.

  3. We've got a few tracks around but I still choose to do intervals on the treadmill... maybe because I know I'll hit the time - or maybe because I'm a wuss, I'm not sure!

    Yesterday I did a great ladder - 400, 800, 1200, 400, 200, all at my "yasso" pace for the upcoming marathon. It went quickly and turned out to be a 6 mile run with warm-up, cool-down, and recover.

  4. I do some of my Body for Life interval sessions on the treadmill. I can NOT do math in my head so I use my GymBoss to beep at me when I need to run faster! :)

  5. holy cow 16 repeats that is one heck of a workout! I guess I did some of that with my track group, but on my own I don't think i'd get through 16.

    I like doing repeats on the treadmill because it ensures i hit my desired pace

  6. Keeping track of intervals, or laps, is tough for me. I occasionally run on a tiny indoor track on awful winter days, and invariably I lose count. "Was that lap 33 or 34?" :)

    Keep up the good work with your training!

  7. Couldn't do it. I hate the mill and avoid it unless there is a hurricane or some other natural disaster that makes it necessary. I also find that, for me, track tines are a better representation of race times.

  8. I like doing intervals on the treadmill, but never thought of using the tv channels or a piece of paper to keep track. I'm notoriously bad about losing count! Great suggestions.