Whether it's the iced over roads, the three feet of snow that fell overnight, or the below zero temps, you're now stuck with a long run and no place to do it. Training for a spring marathon certainly poses new challenges, and sometimes there's nothing you can do but pound out the miles on the treadmill. Luckily, I've been there before, and I can honestly say it's not too terrible if you approach it right. Here are some of my tips for going long on the treadmill!
1. Find some form of entertainment- When I'm running outdoors, I can run for hours with nothing but my GPS watch and my thoughts. The treadmill however is a little different. If you are going to be running for hours in one place, you are going to need some distractions. I used my two and a half hours to watch Christmas movies, but music, an audio book, or anything distracting will work. Just make sure you pick something you know will be able to distract you for the amount of time you will be running.
2. Use the treadmill to your advantage- One of the few benefits to using a treadmill is that you don't have to worry about carrying all of your fuel on you. I took advantage of the extra space by starting with two full water bottles. One filled with regular water, and another filled with an electrolyte solution. Normally I wouldn't be able to do this with my hydration backpack, so having a shelf to put everything on was actually pretty nice.
3. Change it up- Running on a treadmill isn't as good of a workout as running outside since the belt moves for you. Fortunately you can change it up throughout to help stimulate outdoor running. I changed the incline and the speed a little every quarter of a mile to keeps things from getting too boring. You can also use this as a way to challenge yourself throughout your run since you can add more incline and crank up the speed the last few miles to hit marathon goal pace.
4. Expect to break up your run- Unfortunately, most treadmills don't allow you to run for 2+ hours. Most treadmills I have run on automatically transition to "cool down" after an hour, meaning you might have to re-start the treadmill 2, 3, or even 4 times in order to get all of your miles in. Instead of allowing yourself to fall out of your "groove", use this time to take a quick stretch break or fill up your water bottle. I personally hate having to stop for any reason during a long run (or any run for that matter) but I try to look at the breaks in between as a chance to re-collect myself instead of letting it become a nuisance.
I broke up my run 14 mile run into three chunks. (Luckily it was just 14 and not 20!)
5. Embrace the strange looks and stares- If you're logging some serious mileage on a treadmill, be ready to be known as the "crazy treadmill runner" at your local gym. Most people don't run the full hour, let alone start it again and again to further punish themselves. Just learn to embrace the title, because let's face it, you earned it!