How should I run?
March 11, 2009 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Should I go further or faster?

I ride my bike everywhere, and in the summer I typically do one century and one or two somewhat shorter rides. In the winter, though, all I do is commute (about 6.5 miles each way), so I go to the gym a lot more (about 3-4 times a week, as compared to 1-2x/week in the summer).

Stationary bikes and elliptical machines bore me to tears, and my work schedule doesn't allow me to take my gym's spinning classes. In an attempt to sustain/improve my cardio and stave off monotony at the gym, I took up running on the treadmill. At first it bored me so much that I quit after ~10 mins. But now, a few months later, I've worked my way up to 30 min at 5 mph, a feat of which I am quite proud.

My goal is to maintain a base level of all-around cardio fitness - now that the weather's starting to turn nicer, I can do cycle-specific things like windsprints and hill workouts on my bike outside. So what should my next move be? Should I extend the time that I run at the 5mph pace, or should I use that same 30 minutes and run at a faster pace? Or should I just keep it at 30 min/5mph?
posted by pdb to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I bet the calibration on the machine is off. I bet you're running faster than 5mph if you commute on your bike regularly and do centuries.

Go outside and run. It's wonderful when it's warm and the shin splints are gone. I also find myself running farther than I would on a treadmill because once I decide to turn around, I am only halfway done with my run.
posted by 517 at 2:46 PM on March 11, 2009

Best answer: 30 minutes at 5mph sounds reasonable to me. It's not particularly fast, but being able to sustain your effort for 30 minutes is a very good start. Taking into account that you don't have serious aspirations as a runner, I would get outside, start playing around, and see what you like. Personally I prefer longish slowish runs in the park or the country and occasional sprints. Don't overdo it, because you can injure yourself, and pay attention to good form. It's particularly important to avoid heel-striking and then slapping your forefoot down - that's how you get shinspints.
posted by alexwoods at 2:51 PM on March 11, 2009

Best answer: Run faster and use the incline buttons on the treadmill to vary your workout.
If you jog and keep a steady pace, you're not really improving muscle-wise, but rather endurance-wise. Your body gets used to the motion and doesn't have to work as hard to maintain the activity.
I always feel like I get a better workout when I set the treadmill to "hills" or "random" or "sprints" or something that changes instead of just pounding straight along at the same speed and same incline.
Your treadmill probably has lots of fun buttons, push a couple and see what happens.
posted by rmless at 5:44 PM on March 11, 2009

Something you could try is running at your max potential for a min, walking for a min, maxing for a min, walking, etc for as long as you feel comfortable. The guy who holds the world bicycle land speed record trained like this.
posted by BrnP84 at 6:15 PM on March 11, 2009

Something you could try is running at your max potential for a min, walking for a min, maxing for a min, walking, etc for as long as you feel comfortable.

This is called "fartlek" (it's Swedish for "speed play", apparently) if you want to Google it. I have heard of its being used in a lot of different sports (running, cycling, swimming) and gather that it's very effective. The variety cuts down on the boredom factor, and it can be helpful for both speed and endurance.
posted by fermion at 6:30 PM on March 11, 2009

It's also similar to HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training, which is supposed to be excellent cardio and weight-loss training, according to research.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:11 PM on March 11, 2009

Response by poster: BrnP84 - I do those on my bike all the time, those are the windsprints I mentioned in the original post. I may try them on the treadmill but I like rmless' suggestion of seeing what the treadmill can do for me.
posted by pdb at 9:35 PM on March 11, 2009

An article in Runner's World last month suggested touching a button on the treadmill every quarter mile. Didn't particularly matter whether it was more or less incline or faster/slower speed. The importance was variation.
posted by anthropoid at 11:03 PM on March 11, 2009

depends if you are aiming for something specific (eg you like events) or you are interested in the science of what you are doing, or you purely just want to be fit.
for instance most cyclists or sprinters know that they can't peak all year, so tailor their programs very differently at different times of the year.
if you get interested in the science, get a heart rate monitor to keep you interested/entertained.
from the little you have written, i think you should pick some big picture goals, and get a more tailored program to achieve them.
conversely, if you overall goal is just fitness, then do a mixed program of 30-45 intensive mins of exercise, 6-7 days a week.
posted by edtut at 12:41 AM on March 12, 2009

If you run with an MP3 player, Nike has guided workouts on iTunes that can keep things mixed up and interesting. IIRC, some of them are freebies.
posted by dzot at 7:22 AM on March 12, 2009

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