Firm Footing

Runners standing in a circle on a dirt road
January 30, 2017

Brad Seng


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Anyone living east of the mountain states should recall with fond memories the polar vortex of 2014 that had the Great Lakes frozen solid with downright wicked temps that seemed never-ending. Many athletes across the country were forced indoors to endure countless hours of bike trainer sessions and treadmill runs. Fortunately, this winter has been a bit more forgiving, but undoubtedly you have or soon will be retreating to the home trainer and "dreadmill."

Throughout my triathlon career, I have always tried to use the treadmill as a last resort. For me, it presented a mind-numbing experience I did not want to endure. Aerobic endurance runs on the treadmill seem like track meets to me. The effort just feels more difficult than the natural rhythm and freedom of running outdoors. With winter readily upon us, less daylight and tricky footing are valid reasons to use the treadmill. Two weeks ago, I was out completing an easy aerobic run on the Boulder Creek Path, having to cautiously navigate the ice and snow patches. Nearing the end of my run, I was gingerly rounding a corner covered with what appeared to be slush when bam! Within seconds, I was sliding on my side like a hockey player losing a skate edge. It was a hard fall directly on my hip and has still not completely healed. In hindsight, a more prudent decision would have been to suck it up and complete this run indoors, knowing how sketchy the footing was outside. I am quick to encourage my athletes to make safety a priority when deciding between indoor and outdoor training sessions. Additionally, it is always smart to choose the environment that will allow you to execute the session to the best of your ability without having to worry about footing.

If you decide to venture outdoors on snow-covered roads or trails this winter, I highly encourage you to invest in a snow and ice gripping system for your shoes. A pair of YakTrax or Microspikes, for example, or IceSpikes as they offer D3 athletes a discount.

While the treadmill can seem daunting and mentally stale, it is possible to get quality sessions completed with the fun factor intact. Here are some guidelines and four treadmill sessions to maximize your winter run training while embracing the time indoors.

**Helpful Tips**
- Set the treadmill at a 1% grade for all runs aside from any specific hill reps. This will ensure you are running closer to the feel of running outdoors.
- Always have a towel and a bottle with water or electrolyte drink on hand with increased sweat rate.
- Use a small fan to help keep you cooler and more comfortable and be sure you have good ventilation.
- Don’t race your neighbor. Stick to your specific workout and don’t worry about what speed or grade the person next to you is running.
- Include some light stretching after the warm-up and a few minutes of easy walking before you get off the treadmill to re-establish your equilibrium/balance.

**Training Sessions**

1. **Buffer Buffs Hill Reps**
  - Warm-up: 15 minutes easy jogging with 4 sets of 20-second bursts and 40 seconds easy for recovery at the end.
  - 45 minutes hard (z3-4HR/5k effort) at 4-6% grade. Get off the treadmill and do 5 squat jumps.
  - 15 minutes sprint (z5HR) at 4-6% grade. Get off the treadmill and do 20 high knee skips.
  - 45 minutes moderate (z2-3HR/half marathon effort) at 4-6% grade. Get off the treadmill and do 10 push-ups.
  - 45 minutes fast uphill (z3HR/10k effort) at 4-6% grade. Get off the treadmill and do 10 split squat jumps.
  - 45 minutes moderate (z2-3HR/half marathon effort) at 1% grade. Get off the treadmill and do 10 double leg hops.
  - 1 minute fast (z3HR/10k effort) at 1% grade.
  - Rest for 2-3 minutes walking/standing on the edge of the treadmill. Repeat pattern 3-4 times.
  - Cool-down: 10 minutes easy jogging with the final 2-3 minutes walking.

2. **Split Tempo Run**
  - Warm-up: 15 minutes easy jogging.
  - 10 minutes at HRz2/RPE 3-5.
  - 5 minutes at HRz3/RPE 6-8.
  - 2 minutes at HRz1/RPE 1-2.
  - 5 minutes at HRz3/RPE 6-8.
  - Cool-down: 10-20 minutes easy.

3. **Ramp Ups**
  - Warm-up: 15-20 minutes building effort to top of z2HR/RPE 3-5.
  - Starting at the speed where you ended your warm-up, increase treadmill speed by 0.5 every ¼ mile until you max out.
  - Note that speed and then run 5 minutes easy.
  - Complete 4-6 intervals of 45 minutes at your max. Recovery is 1 minute easy jogging.
  - Cool-down: easy jogging for the duration of time.

4. **1-Minute Efforts + 1k**
  - Warm-up: 10-15 minutes easy with 4 sets of 20-second bursts and 40 seconds easy jogging for recovery.
  - 2 sets of (4 x 1-minute moderate/RPE 3-7 with 30 seconds rest after each. Include 1k at 5-10k pace after the 4th of each set).
  - Walk/jog easy for 2-3 minutes between sets.
  - Cool-down: 5-10 minutes easy.

Happy Running! Brad Coach Brad Seng has been working with athletes for over ten years and has learned that getting to the next level in triathlon is often a matter of knowing when to push limits and when to pull back. A breakthrough can also be as simple as working on your mindset, fueling your success with sound mental strategies!

Coach Brad Seng enjoys working with athletes of all abilities who set a variety of personal goals. He understands difficult training days. Challenging days and subpar workouts are inevitably part of the triathlon landscape, as are the times when you’re feeling great and everything clicks. He believes there are lessons to be learned from experiencing both. Sometimes having to fight for a workout is just what’s needed to achieve an important breakthrough in mental conditioning.  

Coach Brad is a USA Triathlon Certified Level II, USA Triathlon Certified Youth & Junior, Training Peaks Level 2 Certified Coach and NESTA Certified Sports Nutritionist (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association).

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