Shown above: The new Specialized Tarmac (yummy!)

Here’s a cool little indoor training / circuit workout for you:

Warmup: 10-20 minutes on the treadmill. DON’T JOG. Focus on fast feet. It isn’t about how far you can travel with each step, so relax if your quick steps are super short. It’s going to feel weird at first, but in a few weeks, the fast feet thing will start paying off. Trust me. If you’re going for 20 minutes, make sure you don’t run too hard. The warmup should get you to a point where you’re sweaty, but not out of breath.

Set #1: Work one muscle group for 15 minutes. It could be quads or abs or shoulders or whatever you want. For 15 minutes, that’s all you’ll be working on.

Back to the treadmill: 5-10 minutes, focusing on fast feet again. Every 90-120 seconds, boost the belt speed by 0.5mph to make it progressively harder.

Set #2: Work another muscle group.

Back to the treadmill: 5-10 minutes, just like the last one.

Go on for 45-60 minutes. You can be the judge of how much lifting and running sets you want to do. Do no more than 4 sets. Finish with a 5-10 minute run, still with fast feet. Reduce the intensity every 90 seconds until your heartrate drops to 60-70% of its max.

The key elements of your workout are:

  1. Fast feet on the treadmill. This will translate into more efficient running in a few months. Don’t worry about the treadmill’s speed. Adjust as needed to combine fast feet with an aerobic effort.
  2. While you’re on the treadmill, you want to be in your aerobic zone (sweating and breathing kind of hard, but not out of breath). This isn’t a recovery workout. It should feel moderately difficult.
  3. If you haven’t been doing resistance workouts for at least two weeks, start easy or you’ll be sore tomorrow. If you’ve already been going to the gym, go for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps, where the last 5 reps are HARD. If not, take it easy for two weeks.
  4. Wear light, comfortable clothes. This is not the kind of workout you want to do in long sleeves or in a sweatshirt. Be smart.
  5. Stay hydrated. You will sweat a lot, so drink between sets and after each treadmill set.
  6. If you need to take in carbohydrates during your workout, go for it. It’s smart, especially at first, to suck down an energy gel just before you begin, or eat something like a Cliff Bar 90-60 minutes before you start. You’ll need the energy, and if you work as hard as you’re supposed to, you’ll burn it all off.

Some tips:

  • This isn’t your social hour. Recovery workouts and easy group runs are great for chatting, but this one needs to be focused. Stay focused and talk to your friends when you’re done. You’ll thank me later.
  • If you have an mp3 player or CD player, load it up with tunes that will engage you, and bring it. The Rocky III soundtrack works for some people, but so does AC/DC or The Chrystal Method. (Coldplay and Julio Iglesias, not so much for this level of intensity.)
  • As you run, try to keep your head steady. Don’t bounce. Don’t be a bobble-head. Fast feet should help you run like a zen master. Be steady. Stay focused.
  • I saw a guy running on the treadmill yesterday for thirty minutes, dressed in two layers of sweat clothes. If I catch you doing something that stupid, I may smack you in the back of the head. Don’t say you weren’t warned. (We’ll talk about that tomorrow.)
  • This workout can be done 2-4 times per week. You can split the week up into an arms & core day, a chest & back day, a shoulders & core day, and a leg day. It’s up to you.

This workout should supplement your outdoor training – not replace it. The treadmill portions of these workouts serve two purposes: 1. They will teach your body to run faster, and 2. they keep your heartrate elevated during the entire workout so that you will burn more calories. This will help you either lose unwanted weight or help keep your bodyfat % low during the winter months. The weight stuff will help you maintain muscle mass during the winter, and build strength as well. This strength can later be turned into power… which can then be turned into speed, but we aren’t there yet.

This is a great way to knock out 2-4 miles in AND a solid weight/resistance training session all in one swoop. I’ve been doing these for three weeks, and I am already noticing a huge difference in the way I feel, look, and perform on long runs and rides. I feel and look fitter already, which is kind of exciting.

Go try it, and tell us what you think.

And remember that this weekend is the Over the River 5K (see previous post), so go sign up asap. 🙂