Before joining the gym last fall, initially to rehab my knee, I was dead set against running on a treadmill. I found them far too boring to put any length of workout together worth jumping on.
As my knee gradually improved, I started to jump on the gym's treadmill for a little jog once or twice a week. Eventually, I was getting back up to my usual 10k to 15k distances and, with the help of the TV's in the centre, I was not impatiently counting down every single second of the run. Time was actually passing in a tolerable manner.
I was always aware of the many benefits of treadmill running, compared to outdoor running, such as the reduced joint pain, the consistent effort created by the machine, the hill settings available, etc. but I never really gave this training tool a chance in the past.
Now, I actually look forward to hitting the mill for at least one solid training session per week. I generally save a high tempo or interval workout for a day I know I will visit the gym at lunch or night.
Before I head over to the gym, I prepare my workout and do all the calculations on paper since many of these machines work in imperial mileage and not metric settings. The machine driven speed keeps my effort at the point I desire and I cannot get lazy or cheat on the run, unless I wish to fall off the back or slow the system down a few notches.
Incorporating these workouts into my training schedule has definitely improved my speed over the course of the past year. Coming back from injury, I was well behind my previous speed but the treadmill helped me push through the tough intervals last winter and spring and I was back on stride to start the 2009 season. Now, as I prepare for more running in the fall, along with a marathon, my treadmill sessions have helped me push the pace for a longer distance.
My two regrets in running are not starting to use this machine earlier in my running career and not using it during the summer this year. I should have given more credit to the treadmill for my improvement last off-season and kept on it for the entire year. With the summer weather we had, I would not have missed much by being indoors and I am sure I would have started this fall off as a much quicker athlete.