Thursday, February 18, 2010

Treadmill or Dreadmill?

After covering over 400 begrudged miles so far this year on snow covered roads, I uttered the words this morning that I didn't think I would ever speak, "I kind of wish I had a treadmill".

I am a running purist. People have asked this winter why I don't cross country ski or snowshoe. . . it's because I am a runner. Plain and simple. I don't run for fitness, to live longer, or to have nice looking legs. I run because that's who I am and simply what I do. So skiing or snowshoeing just won't do it for me. I'm sure I could get in a good work out, but I don't even need to give them an honest try. I like to log miles RUNNING.

So this brings me to the treadmill debate. I've been seriously considering purchasing one over the past few days. I don't know if it's the doldrums of this historically precipitation ridden winter causing these thoughts or actual logic that makes me think a treadmill could play a beneficial role in my training. I'm just so tired of not being able to run any faster than 8 minute miles at top speed and risking my well-being in the process. It has been absolutely terrible running conditions daily thus far this entire year. But would I even use a treadmill enough to justify it? It is true that I have not been on a treadmill in more than 6 years and I have always hated them with a passion. I don't know how feasible a treadmill would be for me, but here's my reasoning for possible reconsideration of my stance:
  • On the days that it is simply too bad to run outside or even those when it's hard to convince myself to do so, I would have another option and therefore no excuse.
  • It could add a new element to training. The consistent speed setting of the treadmill could be of some benefit to training and pacing.
  • It may possibly be easier to convince myself to do some of the two-a-day workouts with one being the treadmill on occasion.
  • I think my wife would use it more often than I would. She "wimps out" during the winter months all together running and doesn't feel as comfortable as I do playing chicken with some of the idiot drivers I come across on the backroads.

So what are everyones' opinions or thoughts on treadmills? Are they useful training tools or just expensive drying racks for running clothes? The jury is still out for me; I'm looking for guidance.


  1. Adam,

    Your weather has been WAY worse than mine this winter, but I don't have a treadmill, or even access to one to run on. It's been about three years since I have been on one, though I have been known to spend up to an hour on my bike trainer, however infrequently I do that. We had considered getting one, but our house, is simply too small for one. So, I continue to get in all of my miles outside, despite whatever Mother Nature throws our way. The biggest key, for me, is to just be flexible and take what you can get.

    I will admit though, if I had the means and room, I would absolutely have a treadmill, and I'd use it too.


  2. Adam, Treadmills certainly have their place. There is one school of thought out there that treadmills are bad on your body due to the moving impact that it has on your ankles and knees. I personally think they have their place. I am no longer an everyday runner like yourself, but when I have time for a short run (30 - 60 minutes) and the weather is bad, I will had to the gym for the treadmill. I utilize those treadmill times as speed and interval work. For example, start out at 7:30 and then drop each mile down 30 seconds until my last mile I do at 6:00. If I have the time and I am in for a really great workout, I will stairstep it back up. But I have to say, it is BORING!!!

  3. Brad,
    That is one of my issues too. We have a small house and nowhere to put a treadmill. Heck, we don't even have cable so watching TV on the thing isn't even an option. If I do get one, I think I have a nook in our utility room that I could sqeeze one that folds and a nice blank wall to stare at just to make it that much more boring.
    Thanks for your thoughts. I think I would use it the same way. Go short, but high intensity.

  4. I definitely hate the treadmill, but I've come to find it extremely useful for speed workouts to keep my leg turnover nice and quick. Since I run solo every day (and 99% of the time without a watch), I find the whole "exact distance covered and bright red clock" aspects of the treadmill to be great motivators in terms of challenging myself to go faster than I usually do on the roads. I'm certain I have run at least 90% of my sub-6 miles on the treadmill since college. It's a great motivator that way...just be sure to have some music screaming in your ears the whole time...that's the only way I can stay on the thing for more than an hour.

  5. Dan,
    I'm still amazed by the fact that you ran over 30 miles on a treadmill (was it 38?); that's just sick in the head. I don't think I would/could ever use one for a long run. Thanks for the comment and advice. I'm leaning toward the purchase as Kadra and I have been discussing it, but now the question is what to get? There are just so many different brands, gadgets, and functions on the things. . .

  6. Adam, I am no help to you on what brand to purchase and what functions you need, but I have been on a couple of home type treadmillls in my day and one thing you have to be careful of is that they are beefy enough to not move when you are running hard. It needs to have some meat to it. You don't want to be doing intervals or fartlek work and you feel like you are actually bouncing on the treadmill. Plus, it needs to be fast enough to handle what you are going to want it to do. I do have one for sure piece of advise for you and it really does not have to do with the treadmill perse', but in your post you talked about Kadra wimping out in the winter. Now I don't know her as well as you do, but I know she is one top notch lady and is a pretty good runner in her own right, but you might want to keep those comments to yourself. You want to keep peace on the home front, now the two of you go figure out what kind of treadmill you all are going to buy. Happy shopping, Rick

  7. Thanks for the advice Rick. Kadra is certainly top notch. I love her immensely, but she's still a little bit wimpy. . . I tell her almost weekly that God sent me into her life to toughen her up. I'll have her as mean and tough as a bulldog in no time!

  8. Adam,check out my blog post:

    Although I only use my treadmill in the winter, it has become pretty much indispensable.Yes, it does drive me crazy to get 5 runs of the week on the treadmill, but with the snow this winter-I wouldn't have gotten any runs in.

    I have a Nordic Track-can not remember model right now, from Sears. If you get one,get one with a good motor. I was very impressed with the Precor that I ran on at this hotel (I'm sure it's a commercial grade one.)
    The tread does give you a safe alternative-and no excuses-to get a run in.

  9. Hey Adam - Megan and I just broke down and bought one. The winter has been challenging here...for once...and I'm getting home from work later, etc, etc. So we took the plunge and bought a Sole F63 which got good reviews on the web. It only arrived on Monday, after our big storms, but I have used it twice this week. I too have always, always professed hatred of them, but it does give me some more options. I'll likely only use in the winter. Good luck with your decision!! Say hi to Kadra, I mean the bulldog for me.

  10. Kim + Michelle,
    Very funny that you both have/recommended the very two brands that I'm considering; if we do in fact purchase one.
    The bulldog says hello Michelle.

  11. Ok, it sounds like you and Kadra are ok with you calling her "wimpy", but please don't tell your first born that their Mom's nickname is "Bulldog"! I hope you and Kadra have a great weekend. Rick

  12. the BullDawg.

    that one's going to stick.

  13. Softy... don't do it. It is not exercise unless you are out side.

    Embrace the snow it will be here until July!


  14. @Mongold: If the bulldog nickname sticks, I've got a feeling that I'm in big trouble!

    @Joey: Don't worry, I'm not going soft. We decided not to get a treadmill. We'll save the money and use it on something fun; other than the hamster machine. The endless snow is making me nuts and the training really difficult!