Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beating Boredom- Part 4: Run

I love long runs. I love hard runs. Both present a challenge. They also have changing scenery, beautiful sun rises, other runners and different routes. My winter rule is 10 degrees and clear roads. So far, this winter has been great for running (jinx). But there are always those days when I have to hit the treadmill and I lose all of those great attributes of an outside run. Still, stifling air, other people controlling the TV remote, and the threat of a 30 minute time limit suck. The treadmill certainly has the potential for some serious drudgery.

The keys to actually feeling good about it are really no different than the swim and bike- it's about attitude, intervals and variety. The one additional variable that a treadmill offers is the pitch. So along with varying the times and speed, also change the pitch. Also make the intervals easy to remember- like every even minute or every multiple of 5. As a point of reference, my best 10k at the end of a tri is 41:10.

1. Strides. Pick a comfortable/easy cruising speed, say 6.5. At the beginning of each two minute interval, throw in a harder 30 second effort. Start at 7, then increase it by 0.5 on each one until you hit 10 (or feel like you're barely able to stay on). Then repeat the set at a 2 degree pitch. 28 min set.

2. Progressive speed. Once you've warmed up at 6.5, up the speed by 0.3 every 3 min. That's a small enough increment so you don't really notice the difference from the previous 3 min, but it doesn't take long to go from 6.5 to 8.9 (24 min). If you have more time, drop it back to 7 and start over, or 6.5 and add some pitch.

3. Progressive time. Using an easy base of 6.5 and a high end of 8.5, go 2 min easy, 1 min hard, 2/2, 2/3, 2/4, 2/5. 25 min set.

4. Progressive pitch. Keeping the speed constant, and higher than the base speeds mentioned above, say 7, make your easy intervals flat and increase the hard intervals by 1 degree each time- 0/1, 0/2......0/8. Play with the times so you can finish the set- the last run at 8 degrees should be pretty tough. If you change every 2 min, it's a 32 min set.

5. Long run. If you are trying to run for more than an hour, the above sets might be a bit much. Set the speed at 7 and change something every 5 min for 1 min. Up the speed or pitch, or both. This will help you stay out of a rut.

6. Roller coaster. Go 4 min each 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, 7.5, 6.5, back up & down again. Or keep the speed at 7 and change the pitch- 0, 3, 6, 3, 0, back up & down. 36 min.

7. Anchored yo-yo. With the "anchor" set at 6.5, take three steps forward and two steps back, returning to the anchor each time. 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 6.5, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 6.5, 8, 8.5, 9- 3 min each is 36 min. Or take the same idea with pitch, keeping the speed at 7. 0, 2, 3, 4, 0, 3, 4, 5, 0, 4, 5, 6.

8. Floating yo-yo. Just remove the anchor. Go 6.5, 7, 7.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 7.5, 8, 8.5. 4 min each is 36 min. Again, the same can be done with pitch. For both #7 and #8, you can change it so it's 4 steps forward and three back. Essentially, this is a way to "sneak up" on faster running.

9. Pyramid. The faster you go, the less time you put in. 3 min at 7, 2 @ 8, 1 @ 9, repeat a few times. Or keep the speed at 7 and go 3 min at 2 degrees, 2 min @ 5, 1 @ 8.

Now let's get silly...

10. Floating pyramid yo-yo. 3 min @ 7, 2 @ 7.5, 1 @ 8, 3 min @ 7.5, 2 @ 8, 1 @ 8.5, 3 min @ 8, 2 @ 8.5, 1 @ 9. Repeat for 36 min.

11. Progressive compound roller coaster. All intervals are 2 min. 6.5, 7, 7.5, 7...pitch goes to 3...6.5, 7, 7.5, 7...flat...7, 7.5, 8, 7.5...pitch to 3...7, 7.5, 8, 7.5...flat...7.5, 8, 8.5, 7.5...pitch to 3...7.5, 8, 8.5, 7.5, 7. 50 min.

I think you get the idea. You spend so much time thinking about what's next with these sets, and you're focused on the clock for just a couple of minutes at a time that it's impossible to get bored. Enjoy!

And the road is always better than the treadmill.


  1. Thanks for putting these up. I hate running on a treadmill, so now I've got something to keep me focused and entertained when on one.

  2. I think I may be the only one I know who actually doesn't mind the treadmill -- esp. for some workouts.
    These are great! Thanks!

  3. Good tips. Interesting how many of these are in my day to day tredmill workouts these days. Also funny how much it's all a big numbers game...

  4. Great tips. And I choose to run outside no matter the weather. It is always better than the mill. Plus, it gets you bragging rights for being super bad ass!!!

  5. Thanks for some great ideas - I'll definitely be using these.