I admit it. I like the treadmill. Okay that’s a lie. I love it. One of few runners, no doubt one of even less trail runners but there’s something about it.
Staring at a wall running inside on the spot isn’t something to get excited about and hating it is easily done; I’ve been there. But I’ve also experienced how much fun it can be. Yes. Fun. As boring an experience it should be, it can be very satisfying and deeply rewarding. It can make you run at speeds you’d be able to change your mind about outside. You’re made to run at inclines you could otherwise avoid finding a different route to bypass that particular hill. This isn’t the issue with a treadmill.
Decide on what you plan to do, dig deep and stick to it. Watching those seconds tick down to zero during a hard session is pure joy. I did it. As hard a workout as it seemed I conquered it. Next time I’ll make it harder. Next time that runners high will be higher.
The mental gains from running on a treadmill shouldn’t be overlooked either. It can take discipline to do a hard session rather than use it due to poor weather conditions. I’m sure the weather often determines if you do or don’t run inside, but don’t overlook it just because of the weather. It takes mental strength to run on a treadmill for a period of time. Now consider how that could be of benefit during a race. If you can stare at a wall for a couple hours then surely you can focus your mind to push your body over those final 30 minutes of a race? When things get hard the scenery can help you find energy, something you’ve developed your mind to go without on the treadmill. The focus and discipline it takes can be harnessed and increase your mental capacity to deal with difficult situations when racing.
I’m not suggesting you run on the treadmill all the time of course but if you have to embrace it, experiment with different workouts, push yourself. If you have access to a treadmill but no decent hills close to home consider it. Especially if you have an upcoming race with plenty of ascent. It’s essential you’re prepared for those climbs. All those metres of ascent do add up, they do make a difference and your legs will start to feel stronger. Got a mountain race coming up soon, ramp up the incline as far as it’ll go and practise hiking. It’s not as if you’ll be running those sort of climbs so prepare yourself for how you’ll tackle it on race day.
You can push your body and develop your mind at will with a treadmill. It can be as hard or as easy as you want it. Are you using one? Ask yourself, what do you wish to gain from your time on it?