Firm Footing

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 & 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.


                         YakTrax                                                                                                            Microspikes


While the treadmill can seem daunting and mentally stale, it is possible to get quality sessions completed with the fun factor in-

tact. Here are some guidelines and four treadmill sessions to maximize your winter run training while embracing the time indoors.

Helpful Tips

• Set treadmill at 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 bottle with water or electrolyte drink on hand with increased sweat rate.

• Use of a small fan may 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 WU 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

• WU: 15’ easy jogging w/4×20’’ bursts and 40’’ easy for recovery at the end.

• 45’’ hard z3-4HR/5k effort at 4-6% grade. Get off treadmill and do 5 squat jumps.

• 15’’ sprint z5HR at 4-6% grade. Get off treadmill and do 20 high knee skips.

• 45’’ moderate z2-3HR/half marathon effort at 4-6% grade. Get off treadmill and do 10 push-ups.

• 45’’ fast uphill z3HR/10k effort at 4-6% grade. Get off treadmill and do 10 split squat jumps.

• 45’’ moderate z2-3HR/half marathon effort at 1% grade. Get off treadmill and do 10 double leg hops.

• 1:30 fast z3HR/10k effort at 1% grade.

• Rest 2-3’ walking/standing on edge of treadmill. Repeat pattern 3-4 times.

• CD: 10’ easy jogging with final 2-3’ walking.

#2 – Split Tempo Run

• WU: 15’ easy jogging.

• 10’ HRz2/RPE 3-5.

• 5’ HRz3/RPE 6-8.

• 2’ HRz1/RPE 1-2.

• 5’ HR z3/RPE 6-8.

• CD: 10-20’ easy.

#3 – Ramp Ups

• WU: 15-20’ building effort to top of z2HR/RPE 3-5.

• Starting at the speed where you ended your WU, increase treadmill speed by .5 every ¼ mile until you max out.

• Note that speed and then run 5’ easy.

• Complete 4-6×45’’ intervals at your max. Recovery is 1’ easy jogging.

• CD: easy jogging for duration of time.

#4 – 1’ Efforts + 1k

• WU: 10-15’ easy with 4×20’’ bursts and 40’’ easy jogging for recovery.

• 2x(4×1’ moderate/RPE 3-7 w/30’’ rest after each. Include 1k at 5-10k pace after #4 of each set).

• Walk/jog easy for 2-3’ between sets.

• CD: 5-10’ easy.

Happy Running!



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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