Unless you live and run in a climate with no rain, no snow, no intense heat, no chilling cold and now sudden storms, then your scheduled workouts are sometimes interrupted by bad weather. Last summer, here in St Louis we had many days that started out as sunny and dry — yet were rainy by late afternoon. No doubt many outside runners got drenched.
A good treadmill allows runners to complete their workouts in the comfort, warmth and safety of their own homes. With cold water, a TV and nearby bathroom.
Rick Morris has been a competitive runner since the 1970s. He’s a professional running coach, a certified personal trainer, the president of Running Planet Inc and owner of the Running Planet dot com website. So he knows the pleasures and pitfalls of running from his own experiences and those of his clients.
This book extensively covers both the pros and cons of using a treadmill. His overall conclusion is that competitive runners need to run out when possible but — as noted above — that’s not always possible.
Treadmills are an acceptable substitute for road running. They can also offer advantages. For instance, they can be inclined to duplicate the effect of hill running. Many runners live in flat areas. Plus, they force runners to maintain a steady speed instead of slowing down as they tire.
I’ll add one benefit he doesn’t. We’re now learning that running barefoot is healthier in the sense of allowing the muscles of our feet and ankles and arches to flex and get good exercise. After all, people have been running for a million years, long before Nike starting doing it and even before sneakers were invented.
Few of us grew up running barefoot through the jungle like Kenyan marathoners did, so our feet don’t have soles thick enough to endure pavement, track cinders, rocks and possible broken glass. But a treadmill doesn’t present any of those problems.
He goes over the extensive features available on modern treadmill and provides a buyers guide explaining all the items to look out for.
Most of the book consists of explaining individual treadmill workouts and then providing weeks of suggested training programs.
The individual ones include: Endurance, Speed Endurance, Speed, Hill workouts, and Long Runs.
The training programs are: Beginners, Finish a 5K, Finish a 10K, Weight Loss, Fitness/Recreational Runner, Finish a Half Marathon, Finish a Marathon, and Training for Competitive Runners.
Along the way he provides a lot of information useful to all runners whether they use a treadmill or not: using your heart rate, using perceived exertion, and the various types of workouts.
As he points out, the biggest problem with treadmills is that the good ones cost as much as a small car — and the cheap models aren’t worth the money.
If you’re wealthy or serious enough, however, a good treadmill is a great investment in your running career and therefore your long term health and fitness.