By Lora Erickson, BlondeRunner.com
(First appeared in the Outdoor Sports Guide Magazine)
Winter is upon us! Coming from Colorado, I’ve been running in the cold and snow all my life. But when I was in college running for Utah State University, I remember welcoming a new girl to the team from Arizona. As team captain I often led group runs and decided what route to take. On the first snowy day that year, most of us were excited to go out, but the girl from Arizona was apprehensive. She’d never run in snow before so I made our path go in and out of campus buildings so we only had to run on slick surfaces half the time. After a few slip-and-falls around corners she learned to slow down and started getting the hang of snow running!
Similarly, I do snow runs with my triathlon team athletes and have found many of them are new to snow running too. This surprised me at first, as I’ve always been a year-round outdoor runner, but cold temperatures and snowy conditions means indoor running on a treadmill to many. However, if you’re training to race outdoors, solely running on a treadmill can be problematic as your form differs from outdoor running. So this winter, take your run outside!
Why You Should Run In Snow
Running in the snow is a great workout, especially deep snow. You really have to drive your knees up to get over the snow! This also increases your heart rate and makes you sore in places you don’t normally get sore. Snow running develops ankle strength and makes you a more durable athlete. Read the entire article
Come visit me at my booth at the Endurance Sports Show next Friday and Saturday (Feb. 5 & 6th) at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy. I will also be doing a presentation at 1 p.m. on Friday covering Triathlon Transitions. They will have a lot of great booths and fun things to participate in, including at 5K and indoor TT. I hope to see you there!
Coach Lora Erickson
Use the following codes to get discount tickets for your friends and family. Feel free to share the codes.
20 codes: Buy one get one free – Code: COACHLORAATTHEESSBOGO
100 codes: 25% off tickets – Code: COACHLORAATTHEESS25OFF
Tickets can be purchased at the link below :
Free Altra Running – Winter 5k / 10k . There will be lots of swag this year and Altra has agreed to do an inventory clearance blowout, so you don’t want to miss this!
There is also a free swim clinic and indoor Time Trial / Kicker lab: Swim Clinic & Indoor TT
Pros & Cons of Treadmill Use
Running is my “thinking time” and as I was running today I was thinking about the pros and cons of running on a treadmill. The majority of the miles I run are out-door, even in the winter, but I chose the treadmill for running today for many specific reasons. As I was listing those reasons in my mind I thought this might be an interesting topic to discuss and ultimately write an article about. So, here’s my thinking.
Pros of Treadmill Running: Treadmills offer more cushioning or have more “give” than hard concrete or asphalt surfaces. This can be helpful for those recovering from an injury or those prone to plantar fasciitis or other ailments. In the winter, ice and snow can slow pacing and increases the risk of slipping and falling, so naturally if these are concerns, the treadmill is a good option. Treadmills offer safety from traffic, as well as can be done late at night or early in the morning when it’s dark outside. Often poor air quality or allergies drive people indoors. As a mother I have many friends with young children that choose to run on the treadmill because they can do it even with small children at home. It’s convenient. I know this is helpful for many. I owned a treadmill for a week and decided it wasn’t for me; I am an outdoor girl and would often choose to get up in the early morning hours for some “solo time” before my husband went to work. I also didn’t do jogging strollers when my children were young because I didn’t like to see their heads bobbling around and I needed “me time.” But that’s just me. No harm in others doing what works for them. I figured if I wanted to get on the treadmill I would just head to the gym, that way I didn’t have to store one and could use the space at home for something else.
One thing I like about treadmill running is that you can set a pace and zone out. Your only job is to maintain that pace and hold it. It can also help develop more consistent pacing in running. If you struggle with this, than give a treadmill tempo workout a try. Treadmill or “hamster wheel” running, as some people affectionately call it, can also improve cadence.
Another good thing about treadmill running is there’s a bathroom close by. I have had many athletes with this concern and have suggested treadmill running for them. However it is also easier for them to “give-up” or cut a workout short because they have not run miles away from home and have to get back, but at least there are no worries about air quality or allergens in the air like outdoors.
Another plus to treadmill running that I’ve seen with my mother-in-law, is the ability to listen to books on tape/podcasts, read or watch movies to make the time go faster. I suggest watching the Biggest Loser, one of my favorite shows. It is so inspiring and seems fitting to do while you exercise. It keeps you busy so you don’t snack on junk food too.
Cons of Treadmill Running:
For me, the number one con for treadmill use is not being outdoors. I am a total nature girl and enjoy being outdoors. We all need a little sunshine. Although I am not a fan of the cold, I will get out and run in it, because you get warm when you run (well, mostly). When I run indoors I tend to “sweat buckets” and often run with a visor to help keep sweat out of my eyes. I have often posted how I get so hot running indoors and it’s true because I have no air moving past me to cool me down. There is also no scenery. At home when I am cycling I have a fan blowing on me. They don’t have them at the gym I go to and they tend to dehydrate you faster anyway. It definitely keeps you cooler though. If you do use a fan be sure and stay hydrated! Learn more about hydration
Another Con is “people watching” you at the gym. On occasion I have seen the person on the treadmill next to me glance over and one-up my effort, like we are racing or something. This always makes me chuckle, but there is no laughter when they realize that was only my warm-up. Either way, I am not there to compete with others, I just want to do my workout. A lot of times I just turn up the tunes in my ears and zone-out. I love listening to music when I work-out. I dance and snap my fingers, at first I was worried this would bother others but I don’t really care anymore and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. I just have fun and enjoy my run. I love to run! Some people join in the fun and start snapping too and we exchange smiles. I love it! Once when I was doing intervals a friend saw me and formed a little cheering crowd. It was crazy fun and I rocked that workout! I am not always up for this kind of attention though, so I usually find the less-visible treadmill so I can just do my thing.
Another disadvantage to treadmill running is that the movement is not the same. It’s not “natural” some would say. I agree. I find that I shortening my stride so I don’t step on the front of the treadmill. The treadmill also pulls your leg back for you, not allowing you to use the glutes, hamstrings and stabilizing muscles the same. I don’t believe the muscles are developed the same way on the treadmill as they are outdoor. After coaching 19 years I can say it is not the same (see my treadmill running video clip – link at the bottom). I know I mentioned safety as a “pro” for treadmill use, but it can also be a con if you are a clumsy athlete that struggles to stay upright. I am sure you’ve all seen the funny YouTube videos on treadmill running mishaps. So a fall and injury is a real possibility on the treadmill for some. Maybe the snow is better.
Another concern for me with treadmill running is the accuracy. I often notice that the pacing is different on the indoor treadmills for the effort so I am not sure how accurate it is. Different treadmills will spit out different numbers, albeit a pretty good “ball-park” number I would assume. Being kind of anal about training details this is a little bothersome to me.
Because the numbers, accurate or not, are staring at me in the face. I often look at them and find myself “watching time.” You know what they say about watching a pot of water boil? Yep, time goes slowly when you watch it. Maybe this is what contributes to the boredom for some and the reason some call it the “dreadmill.” However, sometimes I use this “number-watching” to further breakdown my workouts and stay focused, so it can actually be helpful. I think many people prefer to look at trees and things go by them though. It’s a valuable distraction. Most gym treadmills often limit your time too. Our gym gives you 45 minutes (after 40 minutes it automatically starts you on a 5 minute cool-down) then it is someone else’s turn or you have to start it over. I don’t like this stop and go when I get in my groove.
So, as usual, I was curious as to what all my running & triathlon friends thought about running on the treadmill so I posted this question to Facebook:
- Do you think treadmill running is easier or harder than outdoor running and why?
I got a variety of responses and I believe the consensus indicated that treadmill running can be boring and that it is mentally hard. I would agree with this. This is one of the reasons I do it, to build mental toughness. One of my favorite responses was outdoor running is “…good for the soul.” I would agree 100%. Everyone needs a little sunshine and fresh air (assuming the air quality is good when you go – wink). On the other hand, if you feel like Ben and “…would rather poke your eyes out with flaming sticks than run” but a treadmill works for you, go for it.
I value the benefits of both indoor treadmill running and running on the roads. So let’s talk about the pros of outdoor running for a bit. In nearly all of my running classes I talk about ‘training like you race’ and how many races are done on a treadmill? Few, if any. Thus, there is value in outdoor running. It’s a more natural movement and what we will be doing when it comes race time.
In my opinion, health-wise, I think it’s wise to do a bit of both, but mostly outdoor running, because it’s more natural. Go indoor if you need some mental work, want to work on pace/cadence a little bit or if the air quality is poor or horrible weather. Certainly a fall is not going to be good for your running! Either way the treadmill can be a useful training tool taking all things into consideration. Just create balance.
Coach Lora Erickson
Related Video Clips:
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Click to download the online magazine (it’s free) and read the article
This has been around for a while. It’s an old one but a good one! So funny! Enjoy!
Coach Lora Erickson
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I get a lot of questions about how to increase miles without risking injury. Here’s where the ten-percent rule comes into play. This short video clip should be helpful for you. If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Coach Lora Erickson
Interested in learning more? Take a class or get coaching. There are many classes offered including; Triathlon Training, Running Form, Nutrition for Endurance Athletes and more…Message Coach Lora Erickson for details at email@example.com
I am extremely excited to announce that I will again be working with the Intermountain Sports Medicine Specialty Group. I feel honored to be supported as an athlete by such a forward thinking organization. They are a huge support to me and valuable sponsor with great services for all level of athletes. They have top notch medical care with board certified physicians. I love that they provide both surgical and non-surgical treatment for pain and injury to get athletes back out there training as quickly as possible. I am able to enjoy a healthy active lifestyle due to their services. They offer medical services in Northern Utah including; Salt Lake City, Bountiful, TOSH- Murray, Alta View, and Riverton
The LiVe Well Center at the Salt Lake Clinic (389 South 900 East, SLC, 385-282-2700) is an amazing resource offering many valuable assessments that I have utilized myself. Here’s a list of what they offer:
Body Composition– Watch a video clip about my experience
Bike Fit & Testing – Learn about my experience
Diet & Nutrition Education
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) Testing
Musculoskeletal Functional Analysis
Exercise & Physical Therapy Services
Running Analysis, Lactate Assessment or Vo2Max Testing – Learn about my experience and what you can expect
As a coach, I love to have my athletes take advantage of assessments like this. The information provided from these assessments helps me coach my athletes better. If you are looking to become a better athlete I highly recommend you check into all the services Intermountain Sports Medicine has to offer, I know I have. I am looking forward to another amazing year and partnership with Intermountain! Look for more educational video clips about their services.
Coach Lora Erickson
aka Blonde Runner
This is a great online store for swim gear. Very reasonable prices too! Click on the logo to check out what they have
Original periscope broadcast 12.29.2015
Please share your 2016 goals in the comments or tweet me @blonderunner I would love to know what you are up to or if you have questions for me, just let me know. Wishing you a great 2016 year!
Coach Lora Erickson
Want to learn more about nutrition? Take the Endurance Nutrition Class. Message Coach Lora Erickson for details, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Coach Lora Erickson, BlondeRunner.com
After coaching hundreds of athletes and doing triathlons and running events for over 30 years I have learned a thing or two about what foods work for people before different types of races and what foods don’t. Although nutrient needs are very individual there seems to be some common practices that work for most people. Here are some suggestions; however be sure to test these in your training before you use them in a race to be sure they work for you. Take time to fine-tune your nutrition plan.
What to eat before a 5K, 10K run or Sprint Distance Triathlon event:
I find most runners tend to do better with less in their stomach during these shorter faster race efforts; especially if it’s an early morning race. For me I will eat a very light breakfast of 125-250 calories of an easily digested carbohydrate product, such as part of a flour tortilla, bread, granola bar or banana a few hours before the race start. I am 5’4”, 120-125lb athlete, so if you are larger than me you may need more, but I’d still go light. I would say a general rule of thumb would be .3-1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Be careful not to consume too much or your body will shunt blood away from your muscles to the stomach to digest and slow your pace. I usually have some water or watered down electrolyte beverage with my breakfast. I try to be careful not to drink too much before the event so I don’t have to use the bathroom excessively. It’s also best to avoid anything really high in fat or fiber like fibrous fruits or things that contain a lot of dairy, artificial sweeteners or fructose; which is known to cause gastric upset. This holds true for most races. Usually very little food or water is needed during these shorter distance events but be sure to go into the race well hydrated but not over hydrated (see the “Cellular Hydration” article on BlondeRunner.com to learn more).
What to eat before a Half Marathon, Marathon or Olympic Distance Triathlon event:
Since these are longer events, more nutrition during the event is needed. For me I usually go into the event with an easily digested carbohydrate product one to two hours before the event like I do with a 5K or 10K. Sometime I will consume a few additional chews, a bite or two of a peanut butter & honey sandwich or part of a gel pack within 15 minutes of the start time of the race and then consume one gel packet every 30-45 minutes during the event with electrolyte water. If you don’t tolerate gels well, you might consider consuming a electrolyte beverage with calories (Gatorade, Cocogo, Powerade or the like) during the event. Again you want to avoid a lot of high fiber foods before or during the event so you don’t lose time using the porta-potty.
What to eat before a Half Ironman or Ironman Triathlon Event:
Since these events are so much longer than even a standard marathon event it is important to get a little more in the belly before getting started and I like to include a little protein. I usually suggest starting a pre-race nutrition routine the day before by eating small amounts of high-carbohydrate, low-fiber foods all through the day and sipping on electrolyte water to make sure my muscles are saturated. Four to five hours before the event I consume 250-350 calories of an easily digested low-fiber carbohydrate rich foods with some protein (ratio: 1 gram protein to 4 grams of carb) every hour on the hour before the event. Yes, this means you will have to set your alarm and get up early and sometimes when you are nervous it can be hard to eat, but it’s important to eat anyway. Again only use low-fiber foods (you don’t want to need to use the toilet during the event). Other food suggestions are; toast, bagel, rice, PB & Honey sandwich, banana, a small amount of salted nuts, pasta, granola bar, sweet potato, juice, protein drink (Ensure is popular and used by many Ironman athletes) etc. Wash foods down with a little electrolyte water. Also, I find most do better to avoid too much dairy or artificial sweeteners before events. Be sure and plan out your nutrition details to consume during your event too. Proper timing and cellular hydration during the event is key to avoid bonking.
Coach Lora Erickson
To learn more, take a community class. Contact Coach Lora Erickson directly at email@example.com to learn what classes are coming up. Private coaching can be started anytime.
Coach Lora Erickson aka Blonde Runner is a USATF certified running & USA Triathlon Certified coach. She has been coaching for over 19 years. She offers community classes as well as group and private coaching services. She is also a US Masters Level 1 & 2 certified coach She has a true love and passion for coaching and welcomes beginners. To learn more visit BlondeRunner.com.