Reduce Injury During Winter by Completing Workouts on the Treadmill

The year 2014 is shaping up to be one of the coldest winters in most of the U.S. in the last century. When this was written, temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast tumbled well below zero and at ZAP Fitness' headquarters in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, not a street or sidewalk was free of snow and—worse—ice. While 99 percent of the time I subscribe to the "just get out the door" school of coaching, streets or trails covered in frozen precipitation can often lead to injury due to altered biomechanics or mishaps outside a runner's control. It is for these reasons that I recommend utilizing a treadmill this time of year, particularly for harder, more specific sessions, to reduce your risk of injury.

While many purists view treadmill running as less than pure, it's an effective tool for distance runners who want to train through tough, icy winters. At ZAP, we implement a variety of treadmill workouts to emphasize various physiological systems and needs. Try a few of our favorite treadmill sessions instead of tumbling down the slick streets in your neighborhood.

More: 6 Reasons Why You Should Run on a Treadmill

Treadmill Session #1: 1:00/1:00/1:00 cycles

Purpose: Encourage anaerobic threshold development; practice gear changing and tempo response

The 1/1/1 is a modified version of a workout I picked up from the late Antonio Leitao ('84 Olympic 5,000-meter bronze medalist). This session requires the runner to be active and aware as the tempo and incline of the workout changes every minute for 15 to 45 minutes. After an easy 15- to 20-minute warm-up jog followed by light accelerations, start the harder portion of this run at 50 to 55 seconds per mile slower than your current 10K race pace.

More: How to Run at the Right Pace

Example: A runner who is in roughly 37-minute 10K shape would begin this session at 6:50 to 6:55 pace. A runner in mid-43-minute 10K shape (7:00 pace) would begin the session similarly at 7:50 to 7:55 pace.

  • Begin the session with 1:00 at this introductory tempo at a 1-percent grade, followed by 1:00 roughly 5 to 8 seconds per mile quicker at a 2 percent grade. Finish the 3-minute cycle with 1:00 at 5 to 8 seconds per mile quicker at a 3 percent uphill grade.
  • When the 3 minutes conclude, return to the original pace and repeat the 3-minute sequence once again.
  • Following the first 6 minutes of the workout, begin the next 2 x 3-minute cycles by starting at the tempo you concluded the opening 6 minutes, but at a 1-percent grade.

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