23 November 2021

Ironman Arizona 2021

 I enjoyed getting to coach and spectate at probably my favorite Ironman race this past Sunday. It’s my favorite because I have a long history of racing there, having done my first IM there in 2009 and, as of now, having done 9 there altogether. I also have a love for the desert and Arizona that started in my college days. While it felt a little weird to be there and NOT be racing, I also knew that I was in no shape to race well at this time. I enjoyed trying to support and spectate for the 2 athletes I coach, John Sheridan and Jason Dubovsky that were there. 

Here I sit playing the “what if” game despite not really achieving good racing form this year.  As many people know, my ultimate goal has been to qualify to the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Before I earned a spot on the list for a “legacy slot” (finishing 12 IMs back in 2018) I came close to qualifying a couple of times, missing it by 1 place one year and by 3 places another year. So, even though the legacy slot will eventually allow me to go to Kona, I still look at finish results and think “what if?” What if I was in very good Ironman shape and capable of coming reasonably close to my best (or even my 1st) Ironman time? It’s hard not to look and wonder. And even though I know I’m not the same athlete I was in 2015 (11:29) or 2009 (12:32) I can’t help myself. 


I looked at the finishing times with the understanding that there’s only 1 Kona slot. I knew that my friend Kurt Madden would be very hard to beat. He finished first in 11:23 but may already have a slot - he has the right of first refusal. 2nd place was 11:57, 3rd was 12:50, and 4th was 13:23. Of course conditions are variable and are different each year but those times gave me hope for a solid place, even if Kona wasn’t available. 


And the point of all this? Motivation. I’ve struggled to find motivation since qualifying for a legacy slot. Among a few key ingredients to being your best in an Ironman is consistency. Being consistent with training can overcome other weaknesses. Being consistent and doing appropriate training for what’s need for a race like this is a big key. It is difficult to be consistent when motivation flags. When you have multiple goals, multiple reasons to train you are more likely to be successful in doing what you need to day after day. You don’t have to think about it as much because the reasons are there, making the decision to train and making that a priority makes consistency much easier to maintain for the long haul that Ironman training can be. It also helps other key components be easier to execute: things like eating like a disciplined athlete, working towards race weight, sleeping enough to maximize recovery, etc. are all easier to keep up with


While I had already been jolted awake by my slow Oceanside 70.3 race and had made some changes to my training, this reminder, this additional motivation, just added to the desire to continue working to achieve things. This watching of IMAZ 2021 from the sidelines gave me something I wasn’t expecting - what a bonus that is!


So what does that mean for you? This is just one example of what kind of thinking you might want to do during December, before the start of 2022. Figure out what motivates you to get off the couch, overcome your possible inertia, and gets you moving and physically active. Figure out multiple reason why you want to do something. Figure out what motivates, or will motivate, you. It doesn’t have to be competition-focused. It could be something to do with your health or weight or fitness, your mental wellbeing, your resilience, your ability to do things as you age, or even something like being an active part of a community or maintaining friendships. Find “it”; find your “why”. Then figure out how you’ll achieve them. It takes planning and awareness and building habits.


If you ask me, movement is something doctors should literally write a prescription for, just as they do medications and such. It’s important for your health and wellbeing. 


I encourage you to keep moving because age could be gaining on you!

16 November 2021

Ironman 70.3 Oceanside

 Ironman 70.3 Oceanside – 30 October 2021

A week after Ironman California, Oceanside 70.3 was on my calendar. I anticipated it to be a “participation” race as opposed to a “race”. When IM Calif. in Sacramento was cancelled, this was an opportunity to use my fitness I’d built over the year. It was mentally hard to shift focus but I thought I was fortunate to have the race just one week later. Linda and I didn’t figure out right away that we were also going to be in LA for Halloween weekend with our twin granddaughters. We agreed that she should go to LA and I would race without her. We jokingly said, “It’s only a half (Ironman)!”
My first 70.3 was in Oceanside 2009. I have nearly never not had a 70.3 or full Ironman on the calendar since then. Because of the pandemic, the past year and a half have been my worst long distance training in a long time. As it is with many people, I had to adapt to the options available: more trainer bike rides indoors, strength training with home equipment, and moving all my pool swims to “dryland swims” and year ‘round open water bay swims. Trainer rides are great but it’s not the same as riding outside. Running took a hit from a combination of wavering motivation, a hernia, and the subsequent surgery. My running and riding have not come close to returning to previous levels.
Mom/Jayne and I arrived before 5am and walked at least a ½ mile to transition. I got set up and then met Mom and Phil and waited on the beach to line up for the rolling start. I had my wetsuit on part way to stay warm and wore an old throwaway sweatshirt. I also decided to wear my neoprene booties when I saw there was no carpet down the middle of the rough asphalt of transition/parking lot. I did a warmup using my resistance tubing, made a last minute decision not to wear a neoprene hood (announced water temp of 65°), and then lined up with the athletes who’s predicted times were :30 to :32. Once the fasted people started, time went quickly and I was in the water within 2 or 3 minutes. I got past the waves, seeming to swim straight towards the big buoy while others seemed to be swimming a bit crooked. After a right turn I encountered a few large clumps of kelp but just swam straight through it. We swam pretty much straight towards the harbor entrance, me staying a little wide of most people, and then swam into the calm harbor to the boat ramp. I mostly walked to, and into transition, along the carpeted edge. Swim split 33m23s.
Transition 1 took longer than expected. I quickly got the wetsuit off and put my aero helmet on first. Phil and Mom watched from beyond the fence and yelled at me that the helmet was on backwards! I didn’t move very quickly getting things done. I took time to put on my cheap “arm warmer” sleeves (tube socks without toes). I put shoes on as usual without socks and then walked out of transition pushing the bike to the mount line while trying not to fall. T1 split 10m03s.
At the mount line I took my time getting on the bike to avoid a fall. Confidence in doing the usual “flying mount” has waned – so have most of my bike handling skills. I was thankfully in my small chain ring for the 1st small hill leaving the harbor. As it was, I still swerved, nearly hitting a traffic cone. Within a few minutes I had dropped my chain and had to stop to put it back on. It took a couple of minutes because it really got wedged in. The 2nd half of the ride has climbs, small hills, and plenty of undulation. I’d only remembered the climbs so the ride was no joke. I really needed an easier gear to shift into. I stayed in aero when appropriate, which was a small victory since all my training on the trainer did not include riding in that position. I was also not in shape for climbs since summer training was all about prepping for Sacramento, a very flat course. Bike split 3h21m18s.
I walked my bike awkwardly through transition to my spot, got rid of my bike gear, and put on my run gear. Why this took so long I don’t know. The portapotty only accounted for 2 minutes at most of the slow T2 split 10m00s.
On the run I ran and took walk breaks all along as I had planned. The course itself is pretty flat except for some short, steep uphills and downhills. Since I alternate running with short walk breaks I walked these sections. When I was younger I’d more or less run the downhills but not this time. All I could visualize was me doing a face first splat… so I walked down the steep hills. The course has 2 out and backs. My quads gradually hurt more and more. During the first half of the 13.1 miles I would look at my watch and see what my mile pace was. It reflected exactly how I’d trained – slow for me. I didn’t continue checking because I knew that wasn’t going to help motivate me to go faster. I was doing what I could. I saw Mom cheering me twice on the run. I was surprised to see Bev, Pia, Tristan, and Jen out there spectating. The last few miles were difficult in spite of knowing I was nearly done. I even decided that a portapotty stop with just 2 miles left was necessary for my old man bladder. As I ran down the finish chute, I saw Kat to my left cheering for me. Seeing her brought me to tears which I tried to quickly stuff so I could get to the finish line. I usually cry upon seeing Linda after a full Ironman but not at the end of a 70.3. This time the 70.3 just felt so hard despite my slow time (for me). Run split 2h40mi 18s.
6:55:00 Finish Time, 15th of 24 in my age group.
After thinking about this performance and this finish for a few days, I have made peace with it. It reflects my fitness level very well. The swim was pretty decent considering I have really only swum in open water for the past 18 months, not returning to the pool. Because of my long-time swimming background, I am gradually getting slower as I age. The most I can hope for is that I limit the slowing. This doesn’t apply to my bike and run because my athletic age in those sports is younger.
My training for the run has been less than great. I often ran 2+ minutes per mile slower than I did just a few short years ago. That may reflect my very inconsistent training in 2020 when I had 3 training interruptions due to an abdominal hernia and surgery. I have yet to find my old self. A lack of motivation due in part to the pandemic also was a factor. Also, when I consider how sore my quads ended up being the days after the race, tells me I probably did almost all I could on race day. Soreness ranked up there with how I feel after doing a full Ironman. Finally, I also began getting infusions for my “colonless colitis”. How that affected things, positively or negatively, I can’t say for sure. I think it made things better but my reduced level of energy - causes unknown - are also part of this confusing mix.
Finally, bike training has been less than stellar too. I spent more than a year only riding on the trainer and this affected my bike handling skills and comfort. In some ways I got very fit but when it came to endurance, that was certainly diminished. I put in an adequate number of 95 to 115 mile training rides but they were slow for me. They did help me gain some lost endurance but in the end it wasn’t enough for Oceanside. It also didn’t help that my bike, well ME actually, weighs nearly 20 lbs. more than my usual race weight.
All these thoughts on my performance give me perspective and food for thought. I find it difficult not to compare previous performances with this one even though it’s not always fair to do that. And besides, there are other goals besides time or pace. Processes, execution of a plan, experiences, etc. also are important. Performance is only one component but that tends to guide and drive my training. Since training is a process regardless of the race, I have reasons to train anyway but with this year’s 70.3 Oceanside being a full 1 hour 30+ minutes slower than my best time and with me signing up for the 2022 Oceanside race, I have plenty of reasons to refocus, work consistently, and do more to have a better race in 5 months. Even at 65 years old there are things to work on and things to improve on. They aren’t all race specific but for me, a race on the calendar helps me focus.
In the end I am grateful that I’m still able to physically do this. I’m grateful and thankful for the love and support I get from family as well as my great friends near and far.

20 May 2021

Bass Lake Triathlon Checklists

 Slade Coaching Bass Lake Tri Checklist 2021 Full List – You Decide What You Need!

Pre-race items – Note: create your OWN list of what YOU will need. Not everything in this list necessarily applies to you.  

o   Cheap flipflops for the run/walk up from the lake 

o   Warm up clothes 

o   A bag to put everything in  

o   Sunscreen 

o   Chap stick/lip balm 

o   Permanent marker (for DIY body marking)  

o   Race Nutrition (Gels / bars / etc. for pre, during, and post-race)

o   Fluid replacement drink (pre, during, & post-race)  

o   USAT card and picture ID (if you have an annual membership)

o   Money (just in case)  

o   Cell phone (Cannot be used during the race) 

o   Bike pump, bike repair kit on bike (spare tire/tube, CO2 pump or pump, tire levers, etc.) 

o   Watch, Garmin, and/or Heart rate monitor including strap o Race bottoms

o   Race top

o   Sport bra 

o   Goggles (spare pair?)  

o   Antifog/Baby Shampoo 

o   Swim cap (race provides) 

o   Wetsuit or speed suit (optional: neoprene cap, booties, ear plugs)  

o   Body glide or similar body lubricant 

o   Electrical Tape or Duct Tape  

o   Timing chip and strap (already on ankle BEFORE you leave for race)

o   Race number  

o   Race belt or safety pins  

o   Remove ring(s) or use bandaid to keep from falling off

o   Backpack 

o   Body glide/spray (or borrow from teammate) 

o   Emery board for fingernails 

o Pocket knife 

o   Small water bottle to sip pre-race or use after swim to rinse feet 

o   Ziplock bags for cell phone, etc. 

o   Wetwipes for portapotty or for hands, face

o   Extra toilet paper or tissues

o   Feminine products (if possibly needed) 

      

Check List By Segments – You Decide


Pre-race items - Also see full list 

timing chip and strap (supplied by event - already on ankle BEFORE you leave for race) 

race number (supplied by event) 

race belt or safety pins  

remove rings (finger) or use bandaid to keep from falling off 

backpack

sunscreen

body glide (or borrow from coach, teammate) 

emery board for fingernails 

pocket knife 

bike pump (or borrow from coach) 

sm. bottle water to sip pre-race 

Chapstick/lip balm/make-up(?) 

Ziplock bags for cell phone, etc 

wetwipes for portapotty or for dirty hands

identification, Road ID,  

heart rate monitor, Garmin, bike computer, etc.

temporary tattoos, inspirational note/picture, wristbands, etc.

Feminine products (if possibly needed) 

 

Swim 

tri shorts 

tri top/shirt 

event swim cap 

wetsuit if wearing one 

BodyGlide or TriGlide spray

goggles (and back up pair?)

flip-flops or large socks

 

Transition 1 (swim-to-bike) 

 transition towel or mat  

 water bottle (to rinse feet) 

 extra towel (?) 

 bike

 socks (if using, put in shoes) 

 bike shoes (or running shoes) 

 helmet

 bike gloves 

 arm warmers 

 jacket

 gels or other calories 

 water bottle on bike, possibly with electrolyte and/or calories 

 sunglasses

 bike in low gear  extra contact lenses or eyeglasses

 Feminine products (if possibly needed) 

  

Transition 2 (bike-to-run) 

 running shoes

 extra socks (?)

 hat/visor/headband

 running skirt, etc. (if wearing one)

 nutrition – gel, liquid, and/or solid calories

 sunglasses

 Feminine products (if possibly needed) 

Post Race

 room key/car key 

 cell phone (to brag of your success!) 

 change of clothes! 

 post-race nutrition 

 money and ID (for adult beverages) 

28 November 2020

Open Water Swimming in Cold Water

As you may know, for the past 2 weeks a few of us have been swimming at Ventura Cove in water with a temperature between 57° and 59°f. Many people consider this very cold - too cold to swim in. Even those of us still swimming think we are crazy because it IS cold! The thing is, if your options for swimming are limited (COVID19, $$?), OWS might be an answer. If you were to ask me over the summer if I’d still be swimming out there right now, I would have said “No” with total conviction. I hate cold water and my definition of what cold water is has steadily gotten warmer as I’ve gotten older. I don’t know why but it’s different now.


The thing is, we’ve been swimming since long before the water temp got below 60°. Besides wearing lots of neoprene, we’ve kind of adapted to the conditions. And we aren’t doing it by ourselves - we experience positive peer pressure by resolving to get out there each time. We also refer to the conditions in certain ways. The swims are “invigorating”. The water temperature is “fifty-crazy” degrees. 


Another thing we are experiencing is that it is very tough getting in, swimming to buoy #1, and even swimming from buoy #1-5. After that, our faces are cold and fairly numb and our feet and hands are cold too, but honestly it’s not terrible at all! It’s harder to talk because your jaw doesn’t work quite as well but other than that, it’s actually fine. 


Here are the things we are doing to allow us to keep doing this. Just like with any swimming, it’s important to pay attention to the potential risks and minimize those risks.

  1. We all are wearing full wetsuits. Sleeveless wetsuits let too much water in and expose your armpits to the cold.

  2. We all have neoprene hoods (caps) that keep core warmth from escaping. These hoods also cover the ears, which is an important benefit. We also have a silicone or latex cap over that to make us more visible and to add an extra layer of insulation.

  3. Some of us have neoprene swim socks/booties that help keep the feet warm, at least at the beginning. A couple of us wear neoprene gloves for our hands.

  4. We don’t swim alone and we swim relatively close to shore. Regardless of what level swimmer you are, cold water hypothermia is a risk and having someone there to help you if you need it is important.

  5. We splash our faces and backs of our necks with water as we wade in. This helps eliminate cold water shock (and danger) and gasping for breath due to sudden immersion in cold water. (Never dive into cold water.) Being about waist deep, bending over, and blowing bubbles for 30 seconds or more would be even better! Also take your time getting in - don’t rush it!

  6. We give ourselves time to adjust. If you get in, start to swim, and then turn around and come back in, you aren’t giving yourself enough time to see if it actually, really is okay.

Additional tips:

  1. Use a tow float for visibility if you decide to go well beyond the buoys in Ventura Cove or Glorietta Bay.

  2. Bring a dry towel, absorbent changing robe, parka, and/or changing ‘tent’.

  3. Warm up after! Bring a warm beverage to consume afterward so you warm your core from the inside, if needed. A hot shower is NOT the way to warm yourself up. Remove any cold, wet things, dry off, and put dry clothes on and cover up if needed. Note that your core body temp continues to drop some after you’ve gotten out of the water so that’s a big reason why a warm drink can be very helpful.

  4. Ear plugs can be a help in keeping your head warm and as a way of keeping your equilibrium if you only breathe to one side.

  5. If you haven’t been swimming in colder water like this, make sure you start with short swims and then build up your time.

  6. Doing arm swings and similar warm up movements will help you be more ready to swim once you get in.

  7. Always swim close to shore. The buoy line is a fine distance but if you get in trouble AND have to deal with cold water, it’s much better to be reasonably close.

  8. Know the signs of hypothermia just in case! Being “tough” or being a good swimmer has nothing to do with hypothermia. You cannot just stick it out. Be smart: if you have any signs, get out of the water!

    1. Shivering: It’s your body’s natural response to certain conditions. If you begin to shiver, it’s time to get out.

    2. Gross motor control: If you start losing some control over your motor function, e.g. your fingers don’t do what you want, you’re done.

    3. Stroke rate: If your stroke rate slows significantly below what is normal, head for shore.

    4. Thinking: If you aren’t thinking clearly or your thinking has slowed, that’s a sign to go in.

    5. Euphoria: Usually a late stage of hypothermia, if you’re feeling euphoric out there then that’s a clear sign that you need to call it a day. This usually happens after 1 or more other signs appear.

There is little doubt that when we swim out there we feel good about ourselves, are invigorated, and feel more than a little accomplished!


09 June 2020

5K Time Trial

I ran a relatively hard 5 K for time today. It was on my own and not a race. It was meant to be a measure of current fitness and a sort of benchmark to measure where I am in future weeks. I had low exceptions but hoped that it would go pretty well.

It did not go well. While I knew my run fitness for a half or full marathon was lacking, I hadn't expected this 5K/3.14mile run to be such a struggle and be as slow (for me) as it was. As the athlete I wonder what's going on. I wonder what the reason is; why I couldn't perform. As a coach I can tell me that you've had good and "bad" days every week for months. I can tell me this is a starting point to build from. I can tell me this is just a point in time and not permanent. I can tell me but I can't make me listen!

I do not always have the answer, especially when it comes to bumps in my road. I will continue to train anyway, to aim for improvement, to uncover the reasons for this level of fitness, and to persevere. I do not have high hopes or expectations but I'll do it because I respect the process that is training. And I'll do it because I value my health and being a triathlete.

26 March 2020

The Pros and Cons of Treadmill Running

by Rick Morris
http://www.runningplanet.com/training/treadmill-running-pros-cons.html

As a running coach and a personal trainer, I get questions concerning the advantages and disadvantages of treadmill training from all types of clients. My running clients are concerned about the training effects of running on the treadmill. My personal training clients that are more interested in overall fitness and my weight loss clients, have questions concerning calorie burn and health benefits.

For fitness, health and weight loss purposes, there are really no disadvantages to treadmill training. A calorie burned on a treadmill is the same as a calorie burned during any other activity. Cardiovascular fitness is improved at a similar rate whether you run on a treadmill or outside on the road or track. The treadmill provides many added benefits for this type of user, including injury prevention, safety, convenience and improved exercise adherence.

The treadmill also provides these same benefits to competitive runners. Fitness gained from running on the treadmill has been shown to be very similar to training effects from free range running. In some cases, treadmill training provides even greater training benefits. An example of this is the consistent pace of the treadmill. Many training programs require workouts that are performed at a precise pace and distance. The treadmill makes maintaining an exact pace and judging the precise distance much easier.

There are some disadvantages for competitive runners. These disadvantages are related to the lack of specificity when training for road or track racing. There is a rule of training called the "rule of specificity" that says training should closely mimic the activity you are training for. There are very definite differences between treadmill running and free range running that violate this rule. Here is a summary of the pros and cons associated with treadmill running.

Pros

Adverse Weather

You look out your living room window. The wind is howling, the mercury in your thermometer is shivering at the bottom of the scale and the snow is piling up on your driveway. You have a five mile tempo run planned. Are you going to lace 'em up and head out? Unless you are about 400 meters short of a full mile, you are going to stay huddled in front of your fireplace! In situations like that, a treadmill is the perfect answer. You can perform any of your training runs in the safety and comfort of your own home or at your gym. A treadmill takes the weather factor out of the equation. You can always hop on your treadmill and do nearly any workout that you could have done outdoors. If ice or snow is present, running on the treadmill will certainly provide a better workout than running outside in those conditions.

If you are running outside on ice or snow, you must be very cautious of your footing. It is nearly impossible to concentrate on your form or pacing when running on ice. It is also very difficult to maintain your planned pace, since you must slow down on such a slippery surface. The bulky or multi-layer clothing that you must wear in cold weather can disturb your stride and arm action. Cold weather alone will probably not adversely affect your run. But, for some runners, cold weather becomes an excuse not to do their planned workout. This is especially a problem for beginning runners. A treadmill removes all excuses for not running.

Cold, ice and snow are not the only weather related problems a runner must deal with. Hot weather can create an even more serious situation. Dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very serious conditions that are frequently encountered by runners. Each of these conditions are caused by a combination of high heat and insufficient fluids.

Speed Work/Interval Training

Successful interval training depends upon running the repeats at a fairly precise speed and at a precise distance. It is hard for most runners to accurately judge pace while training at the track and becomes even more difficult when training on the open road. When training on the track, you at least know the exact distance you are running, but on the open road, it is all guesswork. There are some fairly accurate GPS training watches available that use satellite information to give you your pace and distance. These have proven to be fairly accurate, but are still not as precise as treadmill running.

Consistent Pacing

When you begin to fatigue during your outside training runs, you may sub-consciously slow down. You do not realize that you are slowing down because you feel like you are running at the same rate of perceived exertion. In other words, you still believe that you are running at your goal pace. The accumulating effects of fatigue make your goal pace feel harder and harder, so you slow down in response. This unintentional reduction in your pace can have a negative affect on the quality of your workout. This problem with inconsistent pace can happen in all workouts from speedwork to long runs.

Easy Runs

Most competitive runners like to run fast. They love their speedwork and tempo runs. But you cannot run hard and fast all of the time. Your muscles need time to rest and recover. Without that recovery time, you will not be able to complete your harder workouts at an optimal pace and quality. Running easy is hard. In fact, running easy is one of the hardest things to do for many runners. Easy runs are necessary to allow your muscles to recover from hard, intense or long running sessions, but it can be very difficult to run at a pace easy enough to allow for muscle recovery. It can feel very slow and therefore many runners have a tendency to perform their easy runs at too fast a pace. The treadmill fixes this problem. Once you determine your easy pace, it is a simple matter to set the treadmill at that pace and jump on. As long as you don't give into temptation and increase the speed of the machine, you will stay at your easy pace for the duration of the session. Maintaining an easy pace on your rest days will allow your muscles to stay fresh and will improve the quality of your harder training runs and avoid overtraining problems.

Hill Training

Hill running is one of the best and most efficient workouts for building running strength, running economy and improving race performance. The problem is that many runners live in areas that have few hills, if any. So, what do you do if you live in a hill challenged area? Simple - get on your treadmill. Most treadmills will elevate from 1 percent to 12 percent. Some elevate as high as 15%. There are some newer models that also decline 2 or 3 percent, which would be great training for races with some downhill sections, such as the Boston Marathon or trail races.

The treadmill not only supplies hills to those without hills, it also removes hills for those that don't want them. Many runners that live in mountain communities have problems finding a route that does not have hills. There are many times, especially during easy runs and periods of rest and recovery, that you do not want to run on hills. The treadmill will flatten the hilliest terrain!

Long Runs

The term long run brings up visions of running long distances in parks, on roads or urban trails. There are many great benefits of doing long runs on that type of terrain. However, more and more runners are doing at least some of their long runs on the treadmill. Many do all of their winter long runs on the treadmill to avoid weather related problems. Running on a treadmill for two or three hours sounds boring. But for that matter, so is running outside for long periods of time. When doing long runs on the treadmill you can watch television or listen to music to help alleviate boredom. I like to tape marathons or other running events and watch them while I run. I also enjoy watching running movies. Any movie will entertain you while you run, but I find that running movies keep me motivated.

The quality of your long runs can also be improved by running on the treadmill. The precise pace control will allow you to keep the pace down when necessary. It will keep you from running too fast during the first part of your long run. It will also keep you at a quality pace if you are doing goal pace long runs. It can be very difficult to maintain that quality goal pace in the later stages of your long run. The treadmill will keep you at that goal pace and you don't even have to think about it. This is essential for marathon training. During the last 6 to 8 miles of a marathon, it becomes very difficult to maintain your pace. In order to run your best marathon, you must practice maintaining your goal pace when you are very fatigued. Since the treadmill does not get tired, you must push the button to slow it down. So, the machine will keep you on your pace unless you make the decision to reduce your speed.

When doing your long runs on a treadmill, you are also near all of your water and fluid replacement drinks. No need to hide fluids in a bush or carry them with you. You are also just steps from a bathroom. No more quick trips behind the bushes.

Injury Prevention/Rehabilitation

Running on concrete and asphalt day in and day out places a lot of stress on the connective tissues in your legs. This can lead to potential overuse injuries. High quality treadmills that are produced today give you a stable, but more forgiving surface. Treadmills are available in a fairly wide range of surface softness. The firmness of the treadmill is determined by a combination of the running deck and the suspension system. Some are designed to more closely mimic the firm asphalt or concrete surface of the road and others are designed with a lot of "give" in order to provide a very soft ride for heavy runners or those with injury problems. There are even some machines available that are adjustable to different levels of shock absorption.

Mental Toughness

The sport of running is a solitary activity that requires self- motivation, discipline and commitment along with both physical and mental toughness. These are all attributes that must be learned and practiced. Running on a treadmill is comfortable, efficient and safe. But, it is not psychologically easy. It is really quite difficult to run and maintain pace on a treadmill. This is due, in part, to the perception that you are not going anywhere. You do not have the psychological cues that you are making progress, such as the wind in your face and the objects and scenery moving by. You also do not have other runners around you to keep you motivated.

Since running on the treadmill is usually a solitary activity, it helps build self-motivation and commitment. Running and maintaining your pace on the treadmill builds a mental "toughness" that will help you in your races and outside training runs.

Great For Beginners

The treadmill is ideal for beginning runners. Many new runners feel a bit intimidated by the sport and by more experienced runners. There is no reason for them to feel this way, but many do none the less. The treadmill gives these beginners a great place to start and to gain confidence in themselves so that feeling of intimidation melts away. Most new runners start with walking. The treadmill is a great tool for incorporating those first running steps into a training program. It is very easy to add in very short surges of running. The treadmill provides them with a stable, level and dry surface in which to practice those first running steps.

Cons

The treadmill provides many benefits. But, as with everything, it is not perfect. Along with its many advantages, the treadmill does have some disadvantages.

Lack of Specificity

One of the "laws" of training is the law of specificity. This simply means that your training should be as specific as possible to your training goal. In other words, your training should match your goal as closely as possible. You are training to run outside on the road, trail or track and run races, not to run on a treadmill. Treadmill training has been proven, in scientific studies, to have very similar physiological effects, to outside or free- range running. In simpler terms, treadmill training gives you very similar training benefits when compared to free-range running. However, even though the physiological effects are very similar, it is not specifically the same as running outside. There are physical differences, which include lack of wind resistance, lack of changing terrain, running on a moving belt, bio-mechanical differences and psychological differences.

Lack of Wind Resistance

When running on the treadmill, you are obviously running in place. You are not running through the air. When you run outside you are running through the molecules of the air, which create resistance. The faster you run, the more of an effect the air resistance has on you. Studies have estimated that air resistance creates an increase in your running workload of between 2% and 10%, depending upon your running speed. The faster you run, the more of an effect the wind resistance has. You can compensate for the wind resistance by elevating the treadmill, one or two percent.

Running Bio-Mechanics

In addition to the wind resistance problem, there is some evidence that running bio-mechanics are different when running on the treadmill. There have been very few conclusive studies done on the running form differences between treadmill and free range running. The studies that have been done have presented some rather conflicting data. Here is a brief summary of the reported running mechanics problems that have been associated with treadmill running.

Stride Length - There have been reports of stride length being both longer and shorter than outside running. One study on the effects of treadmill running came up with some very interesting data. The study used one group of subjects that were very experienced runners and compared them to a group of new runners. The results showed that the more experienced group had longer strides when running on the treadmill, compared to their same pace when running outside. The interesting part is that the inexperienced group had the exact opposite result. They had shorter stride lengths on the treadmill than they did when running outside. More research is needed to determine why this happens and if it happens consistently to a large group of runners.

Longer Support Time - Support time is the amount of time that your support leg spends on the ground. Some runners tend to spend more time on their support leg when running on the treadmill. In order to maximize your running efficiency your support time should be kept at a minimum. If your support leg is on the ground longer, you are probably not running as efficiently as you could be. This increase in support time is probably caused by an unconscious desire to provide a more stable running base on the moving and somewhat unstable treadmill.

Less Forward Lean - Some studies have determined that some athletes run with less of a forward lean when running on the treadmill. This can cause more energy being wasted on up and down motion and less energy focused on forward momentum.

Running Surface

The even and soft surface of the treadmill is an advantage in many ways, but it does present one major disadvantage. When running outside you encounter uneven surfaces, stones, soft areas, hard areas, dry areas, wet areas and various combinations of these surfaces. The challenge of running over these surfaces improves your propreoception or the ability of your neuromuscular system to correct for the effect these types of surfaces have on your muscles and the position of your body parts and joints. This is critical to runners because it affects balance, power and running economy. Running on the treadmill removes this very important part of training.

This article is adapted from "Treadmill Training for Runners" - Click Here for more information on this book of treadmill training.