Dreadmill to Shredmill

For many overweight women the treadmill is the first step on their running journey, safe in the knowledge that they can press the red button at any point, jump off and go for a breather if needed.

For others though it truly is their worst nightmare, running on a contraption with an apparent mind of its own, without actually going anywhere, and with the joy of a full length wide screen mirror replaying the action to a gym full of skinny Minnie’s – no thanks!!

Well I neither like or dislike the treadmill with any amount of vigour. I suppose I kind of have a friendly agreement with it. I mean I can go months without ever using one (including my very own one which lives behind the front room door having been used a grand total of 6 times since acquiring it over 2 years ago), but from time to time they do serve a purpose, especially if time is short, you can’t get outside or when you are travelling abroad for example.

So here is a quick guide to how to make them work for you.

1. Always have a plan – don’t just pop on and hope for the best. This is when you are most likely to get bored, feel weak, lose motivation and move on to something else without really reaping any benefit. Know what you are hoping to achieve and stick to it, whether you want to go for a distance, an amount of time or for number of calories burned. Be realistic though and know your limits, we don’t want any accidents do we?

2. Understand how the machine works – Don’t be shy to ask a member of staff for a demonstration (that’s what they get paid for). Find out what the set programmes are and what the benefits of each are, learn how to preset an interval session (one of the best ways to fit in a good workout in 20 minutes) and see if there are any cool running routes to keep your mind occupied (a gym I once went to had a screen which took you on a jog through the Rocky Mountains!!) oh and don’t be scared of working with gradient, i.e. going uphill!!

3. Make sure you are warmed up first. Some basic leg stretches and 10 minutes on the cross trainer or a bike should do it. Remember to stretch your shoulders and arms too as they can tighten up too whilst running, especially if you are tense. Don’t knacker yourself out before you start though.

4. Make sure you have everything you need – Headphones and iPod? Fluids? A Towel? Take your time getting on the machine and getting yourself set up. Make sure your shoe laces are done up properly. Remove any extra layers at this point too as you are going to get HOT!!!

5. Stay in the Zone – Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, don’t increase your speed just cos the girl next to you has, or slow down cos a fit guy just came in. Ignore the person waiting impatiently for your machine (you have as much right to be there, if its busy then perhaps limit to 20 minutes) Don’t worry about red cheeks, sweat patches or your hair do…concentrate on your goal from #1. See it through to the end, this is your workout!

Ok just one more

6. Warm Down – don’t just do your final meter, or minute or interval and then pull the plug and head straight to the showers, bring the speed right down to a walking pace. Spend a few minutes walking it out contemplating what you have just achieved. How did it feel, could you have worked harder, what stopped you? Then plan what your next treadmill session is going to include.

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