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Workouts

3 Treadmill Workouts For Winter

The treadmill is an all-weather tool always on the ready to keep you going.

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Three treadmill workouts to keep your training on track through the winter.

Consistency is the most important skill you need as an endurance athlete, but things like snow, fewer daylight hours and travel can get in the way. Enter the treadmill, the all-weather tool always on the ready to keep you going.

Outdoor purists might consider the treadmill boring, but consider this major advantage: You can create near-perfect race simulations of your upcoming events. Does your race have a 4 percent grade for a half mile that starts 2 miles in? You can test that exact scenario on a treadmill.

The fastest runners in the world, including Olympians Kara Goucher and Norway’s Marius Bakken, use a treadmill to get fitter and to go faster, and it can help you too.

Below are the key workouts I like to use with my triathletes. Build speed first, tackling that workout once or twice a week for 4 to 6 weeks, then swap a speed workout for the hill progression. About 6 weeks out from a hilly race, switch to the advanced hill work twice a week to build strength.

Start each workout by setting the treadmill to 1 percent, and running a 1- to 2-mile warm-up. 

Speed progression

5K pace for 1 min, with 1–2 min recovery. Start with 10 rounds. Total time of the workout will be 45 min. Build this set up to 12×1 min in week 2 and then 15×1 min in week 3. If you want to increase the difficulty, decrease the rest time and keep the speed the same.

Beginner hill progression

Start with 3–4 percent grade and 10K speed. Just like in the speed progression above, start with 10×1 min with 1–2 min recovery, and build to 15×1 min reps by week 3. Once again, decrease the rest to make the workout harder.

Advanced hill progression

(aka “Teeter Totter Hills”)

Use 2 percent as your base grade and 3 percent as your hill grade. Run 4–5 x 3 min and vary the grade every 30–60 sec. For example, at half-marathon race pace, run:

30 sec at 3 percent, 60 sec at 2 percent,

45 sec at 3 percent, 45 sec at 2 percent,

60 sec at 3 percent, 30 sec at 2 percent.

Recovery is 2–3 min very easy.

For a longer (harder) workout:

At half-marathon race pace, and using 1 percent as your base grade and 4 percent as your hill grade, run 4–5 x 3 min and vary the grade every 30–60 sec. For example:

45 sec at 4 percent, 45 sec at 1 percent

30 sec at 4 percent, 60 sec at 1 percent

60 sec at 4 percent, 30 sec at 1 percent.

Recovery is 2–3 min very easy.

Mike Ricci is a USAT Level III certified coach and the 2013 USAT Coach of the Year. He founded D3 Multisport in Boulder, Colo.