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?

8 comments:

  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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! :)

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  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

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  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!

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  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.

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  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.

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