Master of the Treadmill Workout: HTS Elite Coach Brad Hudson shares his keys to making your indoor workouts count
By: Caitlin Chock
We're counting down the days until the USA Cross Country Champions; meanwhile, host city Boulder, CO is experiencing some rather harsh winter weather. With temperatures well below zero, even before the wind-chill, and snow a flurry, one is left to question just how extreme the conditions and course will be come race day. Talk about a true test of cross country grit.
Not that snow and artic temperatures aren't annual winter hazards for runners residing in states like Colorado. Such conditions force runners to head indoors to get both safer and more effective workouts. "I don't love treadmills but you adapt what you do to make it work. It has been an especially cold winter so we have been in the gym a lot!" explains Hudson Training Systems Elite coach, Brad Hudson. (http://htselite.org/)
Residing in Boulder has made Hudson a master of the indoor workout, "I have a lot of experience with treadmills as many of my athletes are forced to use them because of safety and or time constraints." Hudson's group also has access to an indoor track, so some key workouts are done there.
Getting back to the belt, runners should hardly consider this the 'weenie' way out, one need only run one of Hudson's treadmill adapted workouts to figure that out. Treadmills run the gambit in terms of quality and stiffness; those the HTS Elite team train on are well cushioned, a positive in terms of less impact but a softer surface can also mean the paces may actually feel harder. Addie Bracy, HTS Elite and 2-time Team USA member, notes, "Paces feel much harder than they would outside. This is something that we keep in mind while we are on them." A positive that comes out of that, "You definitely feel pretty quick when moving outside after a treadmill workout."
Ultimately, which holds true across all training, it comes back to effort. "The important thing is to not read too much into how you feel on them and just focus on getting the effort in," supports Bracy. Under the watchful eyes of her coach, he's not shy in speeding things up or down, ensuring the proper effort level is obtained.
Hudson Training System's Top Treadmill Workouts
- Long Repeats: 2-3 x 3 miles with 60-second recovery jog. Run each progressively faster working down from marathon to half-marathon pace. (2-3-4mmol). Example: Female tested with heart rate it would be 10 beats below threshold/5 beats below/at threshold for intervals.
- Fartlek: 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 minutes, equal recovery run at a moderate pace.
- Minute Switch: 1-minute fast/1-minute moderate, sustained for 40-50 minutes
The moving belts do cause the body to make some alterations while in stride, relying more on the quads, less on the hamstrings, some biomechanical changes when compared to outdoor running. Lots of running on a treadmill can make runners susceptible to a weaker core and hamstrings and this is important for runners to be aware of so they can transition smoothly from inside to race course. All of which Hudson is well aware of and has ways to negate through strength, core work, and hill sprints.
Running on a treadmill means you're not pushing through any kind of wind; which, even on the calmest of days you'd experience. In doing your treadmill workouts put the grade at 1-2 percent to negate that and this will more accurately translate to the paces you'd be hitting outside.
As for the big race at hand. "We expect a sloppy course," states Hudson. Which means that when not blasting the hard workouts inside his runners are forced to endure the outside conditions when safe enough. Running on the snow mimics that of grass.
For runners not used to snow and such brutally harsh winters, the USA Cross Country Championships may, quite literally, be a cold slap of reality. Something the HTS Elite athletes will certainly be capitalizing on. For most of Hudson's crew this is the end of their current racing cycle before gearing up for Outdoors so they're looking to make it count.
Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004. Now a freelance writer and artist she writes about all things running and designs her own line of running shirts. You can read more, see her running comics, and her shirts at her website.