Treadmill Session #3: Course-Specific Long Runs
Purpose: Improve marathon and endurance race muscle memory
Boston Marathon runners, this workout will benefit you specifically. The overwhelming majority of the opening 25 kilometers of the Boston Marathon is either flat or downhill, and while many who prep for Boston believe the uphill portions through Newton and Chestnut Hill are to be feared most, those who know the intricacies of this course are aware that the descending nature of the first half is where an athlete can get into trouble—and needs to spend significant time in preparation.
The next time you are prepping for a spring or summer marathon amidst icy conditions, try 1 to 2 of your weekly long runs on a treadmill. Set the incline and decline at a grade similar to the course for which you are getting ready. For Boston folks, I have them run the first 10 to 11 miles of an 18- to 20-mile long run at a 1- to 3-percent decline prior to moving into some climbing and flatter stretches. This quad-pounding effort prepares athletes for the rigors of Hopkinton to Wellesley—something few people can replicate outside. Similar simulations can be set up for virtually any marathon or longer race with challenging topography.
Treadmill Session #4: Hill Repetitions
Purpose: Develop speed, and improve natural extension and toe-off
While icy winter conditions make quicker, more assertive hill repetitions all but impossible outside, the treadmill affords runners virtually all of the benefits, save the aesthetics, of outdoor repeats. Use the following classic workout to gain power and economy during winter.
- Warm up for 15 to 20 minutes with relaxed running followed by 6 to 8 accelerations.
- Move into 3 sets of 1:30 hills at a 3-percent grade at roughly 10 seconds per mile faster than your current 10K race fitness. Follow this effort by a 2-minute easy jog or walk recovery.
- For the second set, move the incline to a 4-percent grade and run a 1-minute hill a touch faster than the opening 1:30. Follow this effort by a 2-minute easy jog or walk recovery.
- Conclude the set with a 30-second hill at a 5-percent grade a notch quicker than the 1-minute hill, or 90- to 95-percent effort on the final hill. After the 30-second hill, take 3 minutes to jog or walk, and repeat 2 more sets of each hill—totaling 9 hills in all—prior to cooling down.
Treadmills have long been given a bad rap. While nothing is more "pure" than floating along on dirt roads and trails, the treadmill can and will afford today's runner a safe environment for the execution of virtually any type of session when outside conditions are compromised.race.