Treadmills and Trails and Terrain, oh my!

Is too much of the same thing a bad thing? When it comes to running, our #TrainingTuesday runners prefer to test out different terrain every once and awhile.

 What are your thoughts on trail running, road runs, and the treadmill?

 Amy: I do a combination of all three and I feel it helps my training a lot. Because of the recent heat, I’ve been using the treadmill a lot more. I like the treadmill because it helps to stabilize my pace and it really gets my heart rate up. However, I need a really great playlist when I’m on the treadmill because it’s hard for me to stay motivated enough to go longer distances.

I like road runs because they help me prepare for a race the best. Sometimes the literal pounding the pavement can put some stress on my body, which is when I’ll switch up my routine.

Trail runs are great, but it’s easy to get lost. I haven’t been able to do many trail runs because I’m less familiar with the trails around here and don’t always have a running buddy.  I tend to run a little slower and a little longer on trail runs so I can enjoy the outdoors and de-stress a bit. 

Kate: Like Amy, I only do trails with a buddy for safety’s sake. Fortunately, I have an occasional running buddy who knows local trails inside and out! I love trails because I find them relaxing and peaceful, but roots and debris can be tripping hazards when I get fatigued. Trails are a good option when I need some time in nature and have a friend to join me.

I rarely do treadmills. They can be a good option when running outdoors isn’t an option, or when I need to be able to control pace or incline. If I need to train indoors, I stick to an elliptical machine. The elliptical takes the pressure off my knees, and I like the upper body workout. And as I said, I don’t usually train on a machine.

Most of my runs are on the road. The pavement can start to wear on my ankles and knees, but I go to local parks with a track or field when I need to be on something other than concrete.

 Which do you prefer?

 A: My favorite is definitely trail running, but I also enjoy the benefits of road running and the treadmill. To me, the best part of trail running is the scenery, it’s so beautiful and peaceful on the trails I almost forget I’m running sometimes. However, I find road runs to be the most beneficial to my training because they prepare my body and my pace for the terrain of the race. I used to hate the treadmill, but now I don’t mind it on rainy days or when it’s really hot out. In my opinion the treadmill helps to increase my speed and it keeps me at a consistent pace.

K: It kind of depends on my mood. I love trail runs, but they can be impractical and even unsafe in the wrong conditions. Most of my training this time around has been on the road—or rather, sidewalks. It’s nice passing by and waving to neighbors going for walks, or exploring different streets I don’t often go down. As Amy mentioned, it’s also the closest to an actual road race, so I can gauge how prepared (or unprepared) I am.

Do you recommend testing out all three?

 A:  Yes! I enjoy mixing it up so my training doesn’t become stagnant and boring. It also helps my body to run on different surfaces. If I strictly ran on the treadmill I think my knees would hate me soon enough. Plus, I love switching up my scenery. After trying out all three I can definitely see the benefits of each and plan to continue using a combo in my training.

K: I agree—trying out trails, road runs, and treadmills can help keep runs interesting while targeting areas that need some attention. In my experience, trails usually require a little more dexterity and footwork; treadmills help you hit specific targets under particular conditions; and road runs provide an analogous setting to the race itself.

 Training Update

 A: I’m feeling pretty good about my progress! After being sick and taking some time off I was worried, but the past few weeks I’ve been able to get back into it. Sometimes I’m amazed at how I can push myself when I have the right mindset. I was feeling pretty bad about how out of shape I got, but after having a great run, I reminded myself that I’m back out there trying hard and that in itself is a big success. I’ve heard the quote, “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch,” and that really hit home. For the past year or so I was the one “on the couch” and now that I’ve finally started running again it feels great!

K: I spent the last week helping a family member move, which meant most of my energy has gone to moving boxes and furniture. I honestly felt so tired that I couldn’t imagine ever running again. Instead of making me more exhausted, going for a run helped my body reset after a really difficult week. Running has become cathartic: it provides a physical outlet for stress, while reminding me that I am stronger than I sometimes feel.

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