Road to nowhere

It's not exactly rocket science that you are more motivated to train when you have an event looming in the distance. For most people the motivating factor is shaving precious seconds of their personal best whereas mine is about getting to the finishing line without the aid of a defibrillator. However as soon as I see the full race results, and more importantly how far down my time is amongst the competitors (generally in the bottom 25 per cent, amongst the over 70s and just above those that didn't actually turn up) I start to beat myself up about how if I'd finished a minute quicker I'd be a good way up the table (amongst the over 60s).

For example in one of my races last year I finished 221st out of 381 competitors, finishing with a 5km run in 28 minutes 16 seconds. On Tuesday I once again subjected myself to the gym treadmill. If you remember last week I ran 5km in 27 minutes 28 seconds. This time I cut it down to 26 minutes 47 seconds. If I'd managed that time in the aforementioned triathlon I would have finished at a giddy 204th. Not quite a podium finish but a healthy 17 positions higher. One of my pre-Christmas goals is to get my 5k time down to under 25 minutes.

As I've said before I detest the treadmill, mainly due to the tedium of it, but there are one or two benefits. The main benefit I find is that you can push yourself a bit harder by cranking up the speed for short bursts. This is known in the trade as interval training - short, high intensity periods of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during the exercise session. While there are many gadgets on the mark to monitor your speed when you're running in the great outdoors I find it a lot easier to achieve a higher intensity on the treadmill.

What I have been doing is running at intervals of 11.5km an hour (km/h) for a minute, dropping down to 9.5km/h for 30 seconds, up to 13.5km/h for 30 seconds, back down to 9.5km/h for 30 seconds then repeating. When I did this last week I have to admit that there were a couple of times when I had to leave it at 9.5km/h for more than 30 seconds (and walk!) but the whole point is you are pushing yourself you are still in control of what is bearable. I find that because the run is broken down into 30-60 seconds chunks it also breaks up the monotony. Also I find it mentally easier to keep going because once you have done 30 seconds at a high intensity you know you've got a 2 minute "rest" before you have got to run at that pace again.

This week I managed to keep going without extending the slower running intervals or walking so there is already an improvement. Obviously another benefit of the treadmill is that you can increase the different speeds marginally so it doesn't feel like you're putting a great deal more effort but you are doing the distance at an overall faster pace. For example, once I am more comfortable with the different paces I could put them up to 9.7, 11.7 and 13.7km/h which may not feel like I've put in a great deal more effort but will obviously make a marked difference in terms of time at the end of the 5km.

But don't get any delusions of grandeur treadmill, I still hate you.


  1. Quite a disturbing post time David. Was this pre-training, or post-relaxation


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