Treadmill Interval Workouts

Have I mentioned several times already that I really like treadmill interval workouts? I wrote an article [HERE] in response to an article in Runner’s World recommending against doing treadmill interval workouts. Here’s a sample:

They claim that in order to bail you need to push buttons, whereas on the track you just slow to a stop. Well, to make it apples to apples, I think you’d need to just stop moving your legs on the track to see what happens. Just kidding, don’t do that. When it comes to bailing, all you have to do is grab the handles and jump up on the frame. It takes a half of a second. – Stay Injury Free on the Treadmill (SevenSummitsBody on Blogger)

I also discuss a few treadmill form tips and how to stay motivated and beat boredom if you want to go read that article.

treadmill interval workouts on an Incline Treadmill
Treadmill Interval Workouts on an Incline Treadmill at 5 AM while the family sleeps – 2013

Back to Back Treadmill Interval Workouts

That’s what I did today, March 27, 2014. First I got on the treadmill set at 3%, did about 15 minutes of warming up at up to about 4.5 MPH (MPH easier to use on treadmills than Pace). I did a test interval of a few minutes at 6.0 MPH followed by walking at 4.0 MPH. Keep in mind that my treadmill is at 9,400′ and that I’m 54 years old. My 100% HR (based on the 220-AGE formula) is 166 BPM. I did two Anaerobic Threshold workouts already this week [EXPLANATION] and one 75% zone workout. I am not recovered from those. That will explain a little bit about the numbers to come.

After my warm-up and cool-down I did an interval of 6.0 MPH followed by 4 intervals at 6.6 MPH. I was using a very simple 1:00/1:00 pattern. A minute high and a minute low. I stayed low then for a few minutes, since I hit my 100% level and needed a short break. I prefer a bit of flexibility which is why I don’t program in an interval training session in the presets.

I then did 3 intervals of (1:00 @ 6.8 / 2:00 @ 4.0). That’s one minute at 6.8 MPH and two minutes at 4.0 MPH. I walked most of the lower speed rests for these last three. At that point, my last glance at the treadmill was that I had gone just under 50:00, like 49:34 and 3.668 miles. I accidentally pulled the safety magnet off the console and it zero’ed out and stopped. Dang. I hate that. I need to superglue the magnet on. Drat. So I rounded it to 49:00 and 3.7 miles for my stats.

I raised the deck on my NordicTrack Incline Treadmill to 32% and began walking at 2.0 MPH. Immediately I realized something was wrong and I was running at what I guessed was about 4.0 MPH. At 32% that’s running. Try it and see. Anyway, I checked the readout and it said I was going 2.0 MPH. I slowed it to 1.0 MPH but still was running at 4.0 MPH. I stopped it and continued running as the belt kept moving. Then I unplugged the treadmill to reboot. This happened before once. The controller forgets to add tension to the motor so it’s nearly freewheeling at a very steep angle.

After the reboot everything was back to normal so after a too-long delay I got it up and running and began to walk on that steep incline at 2.0 MPH. Averaging 2.0 MPH at 32% is approximately 1000 VAM. My primary goal right now is Elbrus Race 2014 so working the VAM is essential to my training. [CLICK HERE] for an explanation if you’d like to know more.

After 9:00 @ 2.0 I did 1:00 @ 1.0 MPH. That’s a very long interval, but when I’m on a mountain I like going for as smooth and long of a pace that I can. Then I did 6:00 @ 2.0 / 1:00 @ 1.0 MPH. Getting a little shorter there but I was feeling pretty beat from my previous running interval. Finally I did 5:00 @ 2.0 / 2:00 @ 1.0 to finish. It felt good. One of my secondary goals was to get as close to 1000 VAM as possible. That’s why I was doing the really long intervals at 2.0 MPH.

I hung out for a bit cleaning up before I turned off my Suunto Ambit2 S Heart Rate Monitor and plugged it in for the stats. I spent quite a bit of time just under my 100% Heart Rate Zone. Do not do this! Unless of course you know for sure you can. The 200-AGE formula is just a starting point for average cardio training people to start with. When I’m rested I can spend time at 110%. I am guessing my actual Anaerobic Threshold to be around 166. I will get the blood test sometime but it’s much more difficult than it needs to be in CO. In UT it was a piece of cake and I didn’t take advantage of it while I was there. Maybe on a business trip…

Back to Back Treadmill Interval Workouts - stats on Movescount
Back to Back Treadmill Interval Workouts – stats on Movescount

I used my Incline Treadmill Calculator [HERE] to get my stats from the back to back treadmill interval workouts.

Treadmill Interval Workouts March 27 #1:

Time: 49:00
Distance: 3.7
Incline: 3%
Elevation Gain: 586.08'
Average MPH: 4.531
Average Pace: 13:15
Vertical/Hour: 718'
Vertical/Minute: 11.96'
VAM: 218.7

Treadmill Interval Workouts March 27 #2:

Time: 24:00
Distance: .728
Incline: 32%
Elevation Gain: 1230.03'
Average MPH: 1.82
Average Pace: 32:58
Vertical/Hour: 3075'
Vertical/Minute: 51.25'
VAM: 937.3

Treadmill Interval Workouts for You?

So now that I gave you all of this information about my own treadmill interval workouts, how does it relate to you? What information can you get from my examples?

  • Warm Up and Cool Down Sufficiently
  • Be ready to change gears in a heartbeat if needed
  • Get enough rest in the lower speed phases of your intervals
  • Mix it up with different inclinations and speeds
  • Set targets and goals that apply to your larger goals
  • Do a variety of training protocols over the weeks
  • Be sure to keep your eyes open to the big picture

I’ve been doing different types of treadmill interval workouts depending on my current goals, on what altitude I’m at, and what kind of treadmill I’m on. It also depends on what my previous workouts were that week as well as what workouts are coming up in the next week.

Don’t be afraid of these workouts. They’re as easy or difficult as you want to make them. Start out slow and work your way up. Remember that most of the running information you find on the internet, deep down inside, is meant for people running 7:30 miles. If that doesn’t apply to you then sort through it and find what you need and make it work for you.

If you have any questions, comment here or on my Facebook page. I’m happy to offer little suggestions or advice, and if you subscribe to the blog (little box to the upper right) you’ll get notices whenever I post a new article here.

Interval Training is perfect for the stop and go nature of rock climbing
Interval Training is perfect for the stop and go nature of rock climbing

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