Don’t Dread the ‘Mill By Jeff Galloway

Some runners detest the “dreadmill,” while others, afraid of falling or flying off the belt, haven’t dared to attempt a run on it. But if it’s icy, stormy, dark or too hot, the treadmill can be a safe alternative to running your traditional route. With the right knowledge, you might even enjoy your time spent on the ‘mill. Here’s how to get a great workout without counting down the minutes until you’re done.

What to know: Because of the motion of the treadmill, your leg muscles engage differently than they do on the roads or trails. And you won’t experience wind resistance inside. To make your indoor experience more similar to your outdoor one, elevate the belt to a one to three percent incline. If you’re at the gym, make sure you know the rules of treadmill use – some places ask you to sign up for a machine or to observe time limits.

What to have: Bring a small towel to cover the display (if you’d rather not know how much time is left) and to wipe sweat from your face. Have a water bottle handy; you’ll likely get thirsty in dry, indoor air. Choose a treadmill in front of a TV (if you’re at the gym), or position a TV, laptop, or tablet in your line of vision (if you’re at home). If you feel comfortable reading, bring a book or magazine. Music can also help pass the time.

How to start: If it’s your first time on a treadmill, spend a few minutes getting familiar with speed controls – try speeding up, slowing down, and using the emergency stop button. Then, start at an easy walk (about 3 mph) for one to three minutes, gradually pick up the walk for two to three minutes, then ease into a run. If you are struggling to keep up with the belt, slow it down.

How to Run: Try varying speed to reduce boredom. Set a pace you want to run in your next race, maintain it for two to four minutes, take a one-to-two-minute walk break, then repeat for four to eight complete cycles. Or if you’re watching TV, try increasing your speed during commercial breaks, then returning to an easy run/walk during the show. If you are listening to music, increase your speed for one song, then return to an easy run/walk for the next.