Would you run on a treadmill for an hour? Four hours? Twelve hours? That’s what Ronnie Delzer did in 2016. Ronnie ran for 12 hours on a treadmill for a total of 89.38 miles earning the Guinness Book of World Records title for the greatest distance run on a treadmill in a 12-hour period with an average pace of 8:05 per mile, and that included breaks.
How did he do it? When training for any race, you try to duplicate the conditions you’ll be running in. So when training for a treadmill ultramarathon, you do your long runs on a treadmill. Ronnie increased his distance to 70+ miles in his peak weeks on the treadmill. On the day of the event, he built in planned breaks to foam roll, stretch, and even had his chiropractor there to adjust. Running on a treadmill can certainly take its toll.
Most of us probably won’t try an awesome feat like that. But with the cold winter months upon us, sometimes a run on the treadmill (or dreadmill depending on your mindset) may be necessary. How do we break up the monotony? Here are a few takeaways this Running Couple have learned with experience:
Have something to look at. Ok, sure, I don’t mind my wife running on the treadmill in front of my own, but that’s not what I mean here. Run in an environment that’s engaging. Many gyms have TVs set up all around, so at least you can catch a game, the news, or watch some cooking show make an awesome dessert. Many treadmills even have screens built in. The fitness company, Peloton, recently debuted their treadmill complete with live, scheduled classes. If you don’t want your treadmill connected to the internet along with your toaster, and would rather run in seclusion, then try putting goals in front of you to motivate that next step.
It’s OK to adjust the treadmill. When’s the last time we ever ran a race or did a training run with the exact same speed and elevation from beginning to end, with warm-ups and cool-downs included? Never. So why should we expect the treadmill to be set exactly perfect the entire time. It’s okay to adjust the treadmill as needed. If you need to slow down, then slow it down. If you need to speed up for a better stride, then do that too.
Focus on posture. Running on a treadmill shouldn’t be any different with regards to posture than running outside. Avoid looking down. Keep track of where you feet are striking. Don’t lean forward. Just run like you normally would. Some call it a “dreadmill” because of added discomfort after running on it. Many of these aches and pains could be avoided with better posture.
Fuel and hydrate. Just because you’re inside, it doesn’t mean you’re on easy street in terms of proper hydration and fuel. You still need to take care of your body. World Record holder ultramarathoner Ronnie fueled multiple times every hour. You should fuel as necessary too.
Bump up the incline. Our first running coach is a proponent of treadmill running. He suggested that it helps with speed work and helps build endurance. If running indoors, he wanted us to set the treadmill to one percent incline. In the scheme of things, it’s hardly noticeable. But after training with him, I noticed a remarkable improvement when running the hills in the DC region. He even had us do speed work on higher inclines. It certainly helped our training.
Don’t let the treadmill get you down. It’s a tool in the tool bag and use it whenever you need it. Don’t forego running just because the outside environment is unfavorable. 89+ miles on it? Hats off Ronnie.