A treadmill is not the first thing people think about for training for a marathon. Ideally, your Marathon training will take place outdoors. Let’s face it – there are times when heading out for a run simply won’t be practical. Dark evenings, safety concerns, or the weather all hinder your training.
In these cases, training indoors on a treadmill can be the perfect alternative.
No, it won’t simulate the exact conditions you’ll face when running a marathon. But treadmill training will get you in the right shape for the big event. Read on to find four top tips to treadmill training, a look at the potential limitations and how this type of training is perfect when combined with outdoor running.
One huge benefit of treadmill training as opposed to running outdoors is that you can set the exact pace you want to run at. This makes planning specific runs at a certain speed or a series of different speeds that much easier to incorporate into your training.
Interval training is a big part of Marathon running – on a treadmill you literally have a clock in front of you and the ability to adjust speeds at the press of a button.
You won’t be able to feel the wind when training on a treadmill, but you can aim to replicate the effects. One handy hint for treadmill running is to set the equipment to run uphill with a 1% incline. This will have the same effect of running in wind.
This incline also has a positive effect in strengthening your legs in advance of the marathon. Aiming to mix up your runs can be advantageous, as you will face different challenges out on the road. A variety of speeds and inclines in a workout can help you replicate those different conditions you will face.
A treadmill is the perfect piece of equipment to perfect your running technique. As you run, you will want to keep your head up and look ahead. It can be very tempting to keep your eyes on your feet, or constantly stare at the console and the data as you run. Try to get out of the habit of this and replicate a real run. You will obviously want to be looking up when running the marathon.
Listen out for your footfall as you run. If it sounds heavy, you might want to shorten to quicker strides. One absolute no-no when running on a treadmill is holding onto the handrail as you run. Handy hint – there’s no handrail in a marathon.
When running a marathon, you will face a series of different obstacles. There’ll be people around, obstacles in your way, different surfaces to run on, drinks to pick up on the way, the weather and many more distractions as you run. When training on a treadmill, it can be very easy to get bored as you train, as yes, you’ll be facing none of these distractions. Aim to keep yourself entertained with a playlist, a podcast or even movies and TV shows. If you want to get really inspired, watch footage from one of the most extreme marathons as you train.
There can be some limitations to treadmill training for marathons.
An example is when you are training at the gym. You might want to put in an extended session of two to three hours, but then find out because the gym is busy, you are being limited to an hour. This can be a problem if your gym does enforce such rules (maybe join another gym if that is the case).
Almost all treadmills will have incline settings, but many won’t allow you to run downhill. When running downhill, which you will at stages of a marathon, you are using different muscle sets, and you won’t be able to replicate this on non-decline treadmills.
One aspect of marathon running that you can’t replicate on a treadmill is the different surfaces and curvature of the route. On a treadmill, everything is obviously even. Running a marathon, you’ll be running from the pavement onto the road and back again, be dodging obstacles, facing different leans and bumps and running on concrete, cobbled roads (a big feature of the London Marathon) and a variety of different surfaces.
In an ideal world, you could incorporate a mixture of treadmill running and road running. This way you have the best of both worlds. If you’re running during the day and the weather conditions allow it, make it a plan to go on an outdoor run. During the evening, or when it is snowing outdoors, stick to the treadmill. This combination could be an ideal preparation for the challenges of those 26 miles and 365 yards.
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