November 7, 2022

Make Strides with Your Indoor Run Sessions

We’re back for part two of the indoor training episodes! And today we’re talking about all things relating to the indoor run! There are many reasons to take your running inside: weather, safety, convenience, or personal preference. But whatever the reason for training inside, there are ways for you to make the most of these sessions. On today’s episode, TriDot coaches Elizabeth James and Jeff Raines discuss all the details of indoor run training. What tips are helpful for being on the treadmill? How do you best execute your planned session? Can you lessen the boredom of running in place? Listen in for all this, and more!

Big thanks to Precision Fuel & Hydration for partnering with us on this episode! Head over to precisionfuelandhydration.com and check out the Fuel Planner to get your free personalized fuel and hydration strategy. Use the code TRI10 to get 10% off your first order.

Join the TriDot Crew at CLASH Daytona in December! Use code TRIDOTDAYTONA for 10% off any event! Register now at https://clash-usa.com/clash-daytona.


TriDot Podcast .163 Make Strides with Your Indoor Run Sessions Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let’s improve together. Andrew Harley: Welcome to the show! Now I am a company man, so starting off today with a quick TriDot plug: TriDot is currently running the 2023 edition of our annual research project called the Preseason Project, which was recently featured in Triathlete Magazine and NY Weekly. We are looking for non-TriDot athletes who want to jump into the research project this year. Qualifying athletes will get two free months of TriDot training. It’s literally two months of the best training available, the training that legends Mark Allen and Michellie Jones use for their own athletes, in exchange for TriDot getting to analyze the training data that comes in from those sessions. I started training with TriDot during the 2018 Preseason Project and immediately took a liking to the structured training schedule, and saw huge improvements in my own swim, bike, and run. Even once the two-month research project was over, I committed fully to TriDot training and have used it for everything, from local sprints to my very first IRONMAN. I’m fitter and faster than I’ve ever been before, and more importantly I’m enjoying my races, I’m enjoying the sport and the triathlon community so much more than before. So if you are a podcast listener and you’ve never given our training a try, head to tridot.com/psp to learn more and apply. Now this show is week number two in back-to-back conversations about indoor training. Last week we talked about indoor cycling, and today we’re going to run it back to cover indoor running. Joining us to talk through all of this is professional triathlete and TriDot coach Elizabeth James. Elizabeth is USAT Level II and IRONMAN U certified coach who quickly rose through the triathlon ranks using TriDot, from a beginner, to top age grouper, to a professional triathlete. She’s a Kona and Boston Marathon qualifier who has coached athletes with TriDot since 2014. Elizabeth, thanks for coming back on this week! Elizabeth James: You are so welcome! It’s my pleasure! The weather has really emphasized the need for these episodes the last two weeks. Last week we recorded indoor biking, and there was this spectacular lightning show outside the office window. Then today, another indoor training episode, and I will be training inside today due to severe thunderstorms and chance of hail. So yeah, good timing on these! Andrew: Next up is coach Jeff Raines. Jeff is a USAT Level II and IRONMAN U certified coach who has a Master’s of Science in exercise physiology and was a D1 collegiate runner. He has over 50 IRONMAN event finishes to his credit, and has coached hundreds of athletes to the IRONMAN finish line. Hey there Jeff! Jeff Raines: Hey back at you Andrew! You know, I haven’t done a super-corny – or I should say super-awesome – pun in a bit, so here I go. We are not TREADING LIGHTLY on this indoor run episode. I’m excited, let’s do it! Andrew: Good stuff. That just ratcheted up my excitement right there. I was a little excited, now I’m a lot of excited. I'm Andrew the Average Triathlete, Voice of the People and Captain of the Middle of the Pack. As always we will roll through our warmup question, settle in for our main set topic, and then wind things down with our cooldown. On the cooldown today Vanessa will be interviewing the parents of a top female pro. Whose parents are they, and how did they end up on our show? We’ll find out with Vanessa on the cooldown. We have the coolest opportunity lined up for December of this year, 2022, to end the season racing CLASH Daytona. The team from CLASH Endurance is giving TriDot Nation our own portion of the RV camping area. So basically you register for the race, you book a campsite, you get yourself there with an RV, and you hang out with other TriDotters all weekend long. We’ll be staying right on the shores of Lake Lloyd; that’s the lake INSIDE of Daytona International Speedway. You can bring your own RV, or you can rent one from one of the partner RV rental websites. I rented an RV for TriDot coach Jeff Raines and myself from RVshare.com, and the coolest thing is Jeff and I will show up on Thursday and our RV will be there waiting for us in our camping spot. No RV driving required. It will no doubt be an adventure, camping, hanging, racing, and cheering each other in Daytona. You can register for the race at CLASH-USA.com using the code TRIDOTDAYTONA for 10% off any and all of the races you’ll be doing. When you register, make sure you put down that you are with TriDot if you plan on camping with us. I plan on racing the sprint on Saturday and doing a relay for the middle distance on Sunday. I may even throw the Friday night Jingle Jog 5K in there as well, who knows? Either way, this is going to be a special weekend. So consider this to be your invitation to the TriDot party. Warm up theme: Time to warm up! Let’s get moving. Andrew: Last week’s episode came out on Halloween Day 2022. I saw several TriDotters on the social media machine sharing pics of the family out trick-or-treating or attending costume parties of some kind or another. Not tri-related, but it made me wonder: The last time you dressed up for Halloween, what did you dress up as, and when was it? And yes, when we kick to our audience I expect to see photographic proof of whatever story you have to share. Elizabeth, I’ll start with you here. Elizabeth: Okay! The last time I dressed up for Halloween was in college. There was a group from our sorority that dressed up as the Power Rangers, so I was the red Power Ranger. The pink one was my favorite growing up, but I didn’t get to be the pink one, I was the red one that year. Gosh, I will have to go back and look for photo evidence. I guess I’ve got a couple days to pull a picture up so we can put that on the I AM TriDot group on Monday. Andrew: You absolutely will. I know everybody would love to see that. And ironically, Elizabeth, that would probably be a fairly aero costume, if you ever wanted to. Elizabeth: Right! And we’ve got TriDot colors there! It was just foreshadowing, the red color. Andrew: Yeah, it works! Jeff Raines, what is this answer for you? Jeff: Ranch dressing. That is right, you heard correctly. It was more of a joke than anything. Andrew: Like a bottle of ranch dressing? A ranch flavor packet? What are we talking about here? Jeff: I was a bottle of ranch dressing. It’s more of a joke. We were in Target and my daughter saw it. She’s only six and she’s like, “Dad, you have to do it, you put ranch on everything.” And I do. Pizza, tuna with ranch instead of mayo – do it, you’ll love it, you’ll thank me later – but yeah, I did it. I was that guy. Andrew: So Jeff, more importantly, I think a lot of people listening who follow the Raines family and follow Coach Jeff Raines, they’re going to wonder what the Raines family did with their kids this year. What were your kids when they went trick-or-treating last week? Jeff: My son is four, he’s into pirates so he had the pirate suit, the sword, the eye patch and all that. My one-year-old, Ruby, she was a little pumpkin with a little hat. Then my six-year-old daughter was a giraffe. Andrew: Wonderful. The Harley household, we don’t have kids yet to go trick-or-treating with, so we always sit actually out front. We have a front patio just to the left of our front door. So we’ll sit on the patio, especially when it’s nice out, and have the bucket of candy there, and just sit and chitchat and wave to the neighbors and enjoy the kids coming by with their costumes. So it’s been a minute since we’ve dressed up ourselves. I think the last time we did, I went back through the photo archives, a few years ago Morgan and I dressed as the Incredibles at our church trunk-or-treat function. I did have several people comment that I didn’t have the muscles they would expect on a Mr. Incredible, which is certainly true. And a shout out to Matt Bach, TriDot’s Director of Marketing: I actually saw the Bach family all went as the Incredibles this year for Halloween. They have a family of five, him and his wife and three kiddos now, so they actually had the full family of Incredibles, and it was an incredible photo of the five of them in their costumes, so shout out to them. Hey guys, we’re going to throw this question out to you. I’m excited to hear the last time you dressed up for Halloween. Was it this year? Was it a previous year? When was it, and what did you go dressed as? I can’t wait to hear what you have to say and can’t wait to see pictures of what you did. Main set theme: On to the main set. Going in 3…2…1… Andrew: We’ve had sports scientist Andy Blow from Precision Fuel & Hydration on the show a few times in the last 12 months to help you nail your hydration and fueling strategy for training and racing. If you want to go back and enjoy a refresher, Andy has talked to us about how to craft your race day hydration on Episode .101. He shared real-world race nutrition insights from elite athletes on Episode .129. And he explained how many athletes can benefit from incorporating caffeine into their race strategy in Episode .143. Andy and the team at Precision Fuel & Hydration have developed a Fuel Planner, a very very cool tool that takes the guesswork out of your race nutrition plan. Head over to precisionfuelandhydration.com and use the Fuel Planner, and get a free personalized race nutrition strategy. And don’t forget that TriDot listeners can get 10% off their first order of electrolytes and fueling products by using the code TRI10 at the checkout at precisionfuelandhydration.com. On the surface, running indoors feels really simple. Hop on the treadmill, start the treadmill, and run on the treadmill. But to do it right, and get in the workout that you’re supposed to get in, there can be a bit more to it than that. Today Jeff and Elizabeth will equip us with what we need to know to get the most out of those indoor run sessions. So Jeff, Elizabeth, in your own training, how often do you find yourself running indoors, and why? Jeff? Jeff: I probably run 60 to 70% indoors. I’d say half of my run off the bikes are outside, especially when weather’s nice. But I’d say every other long run is outdoors, depending on time of year, weather, obviously. I like to do my outdoor long runs on a track, and then my other ones, I’m that person that can do the hamster wheel, I can do long runs on a treadmill and I actually like it. Closer to race day I tend to train a little bit more outdoors, just building that tolerance of the ground-and-pound. Running on a treadmill is low impact. It is cross-training, so especially for longer – marathon training, long-course triathlon training – there is a tolerance that we need to build up of that “ground and pound” I call it. So as I get closer to race day I might go a little bit more outdoors rather than that softer surface treadmill. Andrew: Interesting that a slight majority of your running is done indoors on the treadmill. For me, it’s a slight majority is done outdoors. It’s based on the time of year, especially our folks listening that live up north where it’s already starting to snow and whatnot here in the States in the fall. They might be indoors more often in the winter. For me, I’m indoors more in the summer when it’s 100° outside in Texas by 6:00 a.m. So weather aside, I am probably slightly more prone to going outside, and doing some as a changeup inside. Sometimes those long runs or certain interval workouts, just to give my joints a break from the outside ground-and-pound that you were referring to. Elizabeth, what is this mix for you? Elizabeth: Like you Andrew, I would say that I’m a little bit more outdoors, probably 75% outdoors, 25% indoors over the course of the season. But unlike you, I’m more apt to be outside all the time in the summer, then I’ll be the first to admit that I am a wimp for the cold weather. If it’s going to be cold, you’re going to find me inside. If I’m going to be out there with a group that’s a little bit different story, but if it’s a solo run where I need hat and gloves, I’m much happier on the treadmill. Andrew: A cool thing about treadmills is that they are everywhere. Whether you’re running at home, or on the go, or traveling, you are almost always pretty close to a treadmill that you can use to get in a workout. When I was in college, my family one time did a Royal Caribbean cruise for my parents’ wedding anniversary, and on the cruise ship with big windows of the Caribbean, I was able to slug away on a treadmill while gently rocking side to side with the movement of the boat. Jeff, Elizabeth, from all the treadmills you have run on, in all the places that you’ve been, what were a few locations or experiences that stand out for you? Elizabeth: For me it would also be on a cruise ship. And it wasn’t necessarily with the windows. They actually had it outdoors. They actually had an outdoor track and some treadmills. They had an outdoor track that was on one of the levels of the cruise ship, so you could run around the boat. Then they had the treadmills that were out facing the ocean as you’re sailing around. So yeah, I did both of those on the ship while we were on vacation, ran around the track, was on the treadmill. Yes, absolutely gorgeous. That’s the only beautiful view that I can think of though. I’ve stared at plenty of just plain gym walls when I’ve been traveling. For the most part, when I’m traveling to a new place, I’m really hoping that I can go for an outdoor session, and just use that as a little bit of time to explore that new area as well. Andrew: Great point. Jeff Raines, for you: from all the treadmill runs that you’ve done, what is an occasion that stands out in your mind? Jeff: I have to throw out last year at IRONMAN California. It was canceled as everyone knows, it rained out. Everyone was devastated on the buses race morning, so something that I’ll always remember is I went straight back to my hotel. Still dark outside, we’re soaking wet, we’re mad, we’re angry, we’re sad all at the same time, and I busted out 20 miles on that treadmill, kind of out of spite. I will always remember just hammering that out, and all the emotions that went through that. But some really cool experiences on treadmills, I’ve administered and also been the guinea pig on many VO2max testing protocols in grad school. At the UT Arlington lab they have some interesting treadmills in their lab, and they also had a horse treadmill because they could measure VO2 in animals. So I got to run on that huge fun treadmill here and there. I’d go in there for fun and do a little workout. It’s kind of like those big treadmills they have at the marathon expo where they’ll put it at the pace of like Eliud Kipchoge, his marathon pace, and how long can you run. You see those funny videos on Facebook or something, those are fun. Then I have to throw out running on an AlterG treadmill, where you can take 50% of your weight off of gravity. Running in that vacuum from the waist down is kind of a really fun, cool feeling and experience on a treadmill. Andrew: So last week you two broke down the pros and cons of training outdoors versus outdoors on the bike. As we take this conversation to our run training, are there any benefits to running indoors that we don’t have when we go outside? Elizabeth: Absolutely. I was really hoping that we would hit this question here today. There’s a lot of information here, and there’s a lot of pros and cons. I think we should break down some of the pros and cons for indoor running workouts like we did last week for the bike, and specifically starting with some benefits of using the treadmill as a training tool. For the treadmill, as Raines mentioned a little bit earlier, it is a softer surface. He called it that cross-training. So those that are recovering from an injury, those that might be more injury prone, runners that are ramping up in terms of the amount of duration that they’re putting in as they are preparing for an event, those are really good things to have a softer surface for. Another thing, I often use my indoor runs to really help me practice my race-day nutrition. It’s a whole lot easier to have the bottles and gels just set up in the treadmill, much easier than carrying all of those with you on a long run. So as I’ve been preparing for standalone marathons, that’s one of the things that I’ve done is making sure that I have one of those longer sessions that is indoors on the treadmill, just so that I can be very specific in the nutrition protocol that I’m practicing leading into race day. Then depending on your area and what terrain you have nearby, a treadmill can be a great way to simulate an upcoming race course. I know that when preparing for the Boston Marathon, my run coach had our team practice the hilly sections of the course by adjusting the grade on the treadmill, so we knew what it was going to feel like Heartbreak Hill, and what that effort was going to be like. Andrew: Those hills were not a stranger. Elizabeth: Exactly. It was a really good experience heading into it, very purposeful training. This is something that I use often with the athletes that I coach as well. It’s not just great for those that live in flat areas to have that excellent option for running some hills. For those that live in a more mountainous area, sometimes they need a flat surface to do some intervals on. This is where I’ve got a couple athletes that live in the mountains, and they go for a run and they can’t find a flat area unless they go to the track. And sometimes if the track team’s out there, or there’s school events, they have very limited hours that they can even get to the track. So we will need to utilize the treadmill so that they aren’t running all of this elevation in a workout where we’re really looking for some repetitions of 200s or 400s. So being able to adjust the elevation and the grade, that’s a great benefit, especially depending on where you live and what might be available. Gosh, there’s so many more. Andrew: Keep them coming! Elizabeth: We have our treadmill in our home gym set up near a mirror, and you’ll often find that in a gym as well. If the treadmill is set up near a mirror, this can be great for an athlete to watch their form and develop a more efficient technique. If you’re working on the foot strike you can really watch yourself and see “where is my foot landing? Am I striking with my heel, am I landing more underneath my body?” Then make those tweaks and corrections on the go. It could also be something with how you are carrying your arms. Are they crossing way over your body, are you doing a lot of twisting as you’re running, or are you able to stay with that great core engagement, hold your hands in a position that’s really going to benefit the run stride as well. So a couple different things there that you can work on with technique. Maybe even holding a specific run cadence. I know that we for a while had a metronome set up on our treadmill, and as I was working on my cadence there would be runs that I would do indoors and basically just have the metronome going, and that was my focus on working on the run cadence. Then mental toughness, we can’t go without saying that. Running on the treadmill can be rather monotonous, but staying focused is an important skill that can be practiced on the treadmill that’s going to come in handy on race day too. If you can, as Raines did, stay focused on a 20 mile run on the treadmill, you’re going to be able to stay focused and hold that come race day too. Andrew: I’ve never thought about trying a mirror. Obviously when you go to the gym sometimes the treadmill section has mirrors. I’ve never really thought of that as a purposeful thing, but it’d be easy to buy one of those mirrors to lean against a wall to check your outfit before you go out, make sure you’re looking good, looking hip and trendy. You could buy a mirror that size and lean it against the wall near your treadmill and check out your run form. I think, Elizabeth, that was a thorough list for sure, there was a lot of different points. But I think for a lot of runners, when they resign themselves to “Okay, I’ve got to do this session on a treadmill,” it has the nickname the dread-mill for a reason. A lot of folks dread that. I know Jeff said that he really embraces those treadmill sessions and likes doing them, but for most people it’s like, “Ah well, because of XYZ I guess I’ve gotta do this session on the treadmill.” To realize that can be a good thing, it can be a positive thing to take your session to a treadmill, here’s all the benefits and ways that if you’re mindful in how you’re executing your workout, and you’re mindful in the things you’re focused on while you’re on that dread-mill, even if you don’t love those sessions there can still be really good benefit above and beyond just doing the workout itself. But with that, it’s not all good. What are the downsides to doing a treadmill workout, are there any cons? Elizabeth: Yeah, we should talk about that too. As we mentioned, there’s a lot of good reasons to utilize the treadmill, but there are some words of caution. Some athletes will change their run form while running on the treadmill. Whether that’s adjusting their stride length, they’re worried about clipping the front of the belt there, it could be the way that they carry their arms. Maybe they’re a little bit worried about hitting their hands on side rails or the front console. This could just be uncomfortable, or it could lead to a continued alteration of their run mechanics and maybe even lead to an injury if the treadmill is used extensively and they’re continuing to change their form while running indoors. Additionally, there is a little bit of a difference in terms of muscle recruitment on the treadmill. Because we have that motorized belt, the muscle mechanics are just subtly different in the way that athletes will run. Instead of pushing off the ground to propel yourself forward as you would outdoors, the treadmill does a whole lot of that for you. As a result, you’re using your quads to push off, but your hamstrings and glutes aren’t firing as much when you’re running on the treadmill as if you were running outdoors. That’s just something to be mindful of as well, that if you are going to be doing a lot of treadmill running we still need to find ways to get the proper technique and recruit the right muscles so that we don’t have this shock to the system when we go back to running outdoors. Additionally, I have seen so many athletes running on a treadmill, running at the gym, and they drop their chin significantly more than they do outdoors. This seems to happen for two reasons. One, they’re looking at their feet so much more so that they’re staying on the belt, not clipping the front of the treadmill. Or two, they’re looking at the treadmill monitor, whether you’ve got the TV screen there or they’re just trying to look at their speed or distance, or they’re looking at the minutes going, “Oh my gosh, it’s only been two minutes, are you kidding? It seems like it’s been forever!” But yeah, they’re dropping their chin significantly, which can alter their biomechanics. Andrew: So you’ve got to keep your head up. You’ve got to stay mindful, you’ve got to stay present, you’ve got to keep that head up. Interesting. So almost like give yourself something to look at in the distance as opposed to right in front of you on the treadmill screen itself. Elizabeth: Yes. If you’re going to watch TV on the treadmill maybe at the gym, don’t watch the screen right in front of you. Maybe look up and out a little bit, see if there’s a TV a little further way and a little further up that you can look at. Then it removes our pace control. The treadmill’s going to do that heavy lifting. You set it for the pace you want to go, and you just keep the legs moving. Sometimes I love that because it’s like, “Okay, I’ve just got to get these intervals done. Just put it at the speed that I need and hang on.” But we want to be able to replicate that outdoors, where we have to be in control of the pace. We have to have that ability to pace ourself and not go out too hard, or make sure that we can hit the workout from our own pacing versus just the treadmill. We don’t want to remove ourselves from the equation so much that when we get outdoors we don’t have the ability to control our pace. Then just one last thing I will speak to here, while we’re on the pros and cons of the treadmill, is the warmup. People will do this outdoors too, but I feel like it’s a more common mistake indoors to skip the warmup, because it’s so tempting to just jump on the treadmill and start your workout. But like outdoor running, it's so important that you warm up before getting into the more challenging part of your run. Just because the environment might be a little more conducive to not having to warmup – if it’s super chilly outside and you feel like you would need that to increase your core temperature – we still need to give the body the opportunity to warmup so that that session is as productive as possible. Andrew: You’re telling us the pros and cons, which is exactly what I asked for. You’re telling us the good reasons to be on a treadmill, these are the things you can get out of it, and now these are the things to look out for. But I like how this is also doubling as a best practices for getting in a treadmill session. Because you’re already teaching us, you’re already coaching us like, “Keep your head up, keep your head looking forward, be mindful of your run form.” Elizabeth: I know that I just said one last thing, but here’s one more last, last thing. Most of what I just said were the treadmill pros and cons, that’s for your typical motorized treadmills. There are these curved non-motorized treadmills from Woodway, TrueForm, Technogym, and Assault. These provide a better running simulation, if you can find one at your local gym, because the design of the curve is meant to mimic that natural stride pattern. It reduces the load on the joints, and possibly increases the demand on the posterior chain. But just like the motorized option, there are pros and cons too. We won’t go through all of that, I think most athletes are going to be on one of those motorized options, but just know that there are those curved treadmills, and that’s a training option that can complement your running program to if you’re using them correctly. Andrew: In a good training program there are several different types of runs. Sometimes it’s all Zone 2. Sometimes there are long steady intervals thrown in there, sometimes there are short and hard intervals in there. Sometimes our runs are short, and sometimes our runs are long. As you coach your athletes, are there certain workouts that are more conducive to being done indoors than other? Jeff: Definitely. There’s a ton of different ways to be intentional with the modality you choose to do the run, and the bigger picture, the method behind the madness. Are you looking to get threshold and really tax the heart rate, or are you really trying to build that ground-and-pound that we talked about earlier, building the tolerance outdoors. There’s ankle stability and stuff like that versus on a treadmill, or maybe you want the lower impact because you need the recovery. As I mentioned before, closer to race day I would mix in a little bit more outdoor. Also you might mix in a different type of shoe, or you’re testing out or breaking in a new shoe, so I probably wouldn’t go straight outdoors for a long run on a new shoe. Those 20-minute run off the bikes are perfect to test out that new shoe. So a lot of it is the famous, “it depends” answer, where you’re at in your season. Chat with your coach and have that plan like, “This next month I have this going on, this B race I want to try this shoe, it’s upping in distance for me, it’s the longest race I’m going to do so far this season.” I’d say month-to-month that intentionality changes, that focus changes. Like I said earlier, maybe 60 to 70% of my running is done indoors, except when I’m maybe four to eight weeks out from that A race, my long runs are getting longer, and then I invert it, kind of like you Andrew, where a little bit more is outdoor than indoor. Andrew: Yeah, I think for me, Jeff, I like doing Zone 2 stuff on the treadmill, especially days I just feel like a need a little bit easier day on the joints. And I like doing threshold intervals on the treadmill, where the treadmill’s going to keep me at that pace and just keep the legs spinning. It definitely makes your heart rate and your body work as hard as you’re supposed to for as long as you’re supposed to. You can’t really fade at the end because the treadmill’s going to keep you honest on that pacing. I will do MAV shuttles and interval stuff on the treadmill if I have to, if the weather forces me to. It’s a little scary to me to be on a treadmill at my interval pace, like 6:00 miles, really down in the 5:40s, 5:50s. My MAV shuttle pace is close to five-minute miles. My treadmill can get to that speed, it can get my wheels going at that speed, but whenever I’m on a treadmill going that pace I’m a little frightened that one wrong step, one misstep, one catching my toe on the belt and I’m going to tumble off and get shot into the wall. So really just for that reason, I prefer to take MAV shuttles and interval pace stuff outdoors to the track. But if I’m going to do one or two sessions on a treadmill in a week, I try to pick the ones that are Zone 2 or threshold. Elizabeth for you, with your athletes, what sessions do you encourage your athletes to do on a treadmill if they’re doing some treadmill work? Elizabeth: I love how Jeff pointed to that all-famous answer of “it depends”, because I do think that this can vary athlete to athlete, and a lot of it, I believe, depends on the athlete’s specific areas for improvement. For me, it’s not as cut-and-dry as “interval sessions indoors, easy runs outdoors”. That may be the case for one athlete, but another one may be specifically working on run cadence. I talked earlier about how I had the metronome set up on the treadmill to work on my cadence. So maybe that’s something that we’re working on with them as well, and it’s easier to have the metronome on the treadmill as they’re doing that Zone 2 run than to take that outdoors. Maybe they’re doing their interval work at the track, and the easy aerobic runs on the treadmill with the metronome nearby to work on the cadence. It really does depend on the athlete. I personally like doing a mixture. What I mean by that is some of those longer intervals I like doing on the treadmill BEFORE I take them outdoors. As you mentioned, Andrew, doing them on the treadmill lets you stay accountable to that pace you’re supposed to hold right to the very end of the interval. So if I’ve got 4 x 9:00s at threshold pace, I may do that indoors one week, and get the confidence that I can do it, I know that I’ve held that pace. Then the next time I have that set or another long threshold set, I’m more confident taking it outdoors. For me, there’s also the mental component of it too, that if I’ve got a workout that’s really intimidating to me, maybe the first time it comes around, I’m like, “All right, I’m going to put this on the treadmill, just hang on, get it done.” Then next time I want to take that outdoors and just take what I’ve been able to do previously, and now I’m in charge of the pacing for it. So yeah, it's not as cut-and-dry as “these sessions are indoors, these are outdoors,” but I think that there’s a great combination of using the treadmill as a tool for any type of run, depending on what you’re working on during that season. Andrew: We’re already starting to talk about pace a little bit, and that’s what we’re about to get to. I think the biggest challenge to running indoors for anybody, it is certainly for me, is knowing what treadmill speed to run at in order to do our workouts correctly. This can vary greatly treadmill to treadmill. How can we best execute our workout and run as close as possible to the right pace when every treadmill is just so different in the accuracy of its pacing? Elizabeth: Yeah, there can be a great variance among the pacing that we see treadmill to treadmill. One thing that I have found to be really helpful is the Stryd power pod. I’ve got the Stryd connected to my Garmin watch, I feel like that provides consistent and accurate pacing that’s recorded on those indoor runs. It’s not going to necessarily exactly match the treadmill pacing and what that says, but if I’m always using the same Stryd power pod then I have at least consistency in that. Then when it’s transferred to TriDot, it’s a good way to capture my indoor running workouts. On my personal treadmill, I know where I need to set the treadmill to make that match the pace of the Stryd power pod. It’s just that 0.01 mph difference between my treadmill and the Stryd, so that’s good for me to know. Then during the winter months when I’m on the treadmill more often, I have a pacing chart that’s printed and hanging in front of me, giving me those ranges of paces for my endurance, marathon, threshold, interval paces so I can use that as an easy reference. The other thing that I’ve found to be really helpful is to look at how my heart rate is responding in those indoor workouts. When I’m doing marathon repeats, is my heart rate getting into the zone that I would expect for it to be. Having that secondary metric can be really helpful when training on the treadmill. Because remember, the body knows duration, it knows that it’s working at a specific effort, but it doesn’t recognize “this is a seven-minute pace.” It’s like, “Oh, this is the effort that gets the heart rate up to that marathon pace zone.” I get it, most of us are extremely Type A personalities, we want it to be exact. I do too. I wish it was. But one thing that I always ask my athletes to reflect on, especially on these indoor sessions when they may not have as accurate a metric is, “Did you accomplish the goal of the workout?” If we were aiming to hit 30 minutes at a marathon intensity, did we do that? If we’re five to seven seconds off in terms of pace, would we love for it to be exactly spot on? Of course. But did we still accomplish what we set out do that day? Let’s look at where the heart rate was falling on this workout, did we accomplish it? That’s one thing that I use to reflect on, and ask my athletes to do as well. Andrew: Yeah Elizabeth, I’ve gone back and forth between using my Stryd power meter on the treadmill and just using my Garmin watch, and comparing what paces or intensities they think I’m at. It’s interesting for me, because I feel like – my threshold, for example, should be nine miles per hour on the treadmill, is equivalent to my threshold pace outdoors – to me, my body is working harder at nine miles per hour on my treadmill than it is at that equivalent pace outside. So I’ve always thought, “Oh, my treadmill belt must be going a little bit faster to make my body feel like it’s working harder.” So I always back off about a half mile per hour, and my heart rate responds as if I’m running at the correct intensity at least. Then I added the Stryd power meter to the mix, and the Stryd thinks that I’m underperforming compared to what my heart rate is at, compared to what the treadmill belt is at. But I actually found online that there’s a sensor, it’s the NPE Runn treadmill smart sensor. DC Rainmaker – for our followers who are familiar with DC Rainmaker reviews – he has a positive review that he wrote on January of 2020 about this sensor. So it’s been on the market for a few years, but I’m just now discovering it. For $100, you put this sensor on the edge of your treadmill, and it measures the actual speed that your treadmill is going. So it can actually tell your Garmin, “This is the pace that this treadmill is actually going,” and you can base your workouts off of that. In doing the research for this episode this has become the number one item on my Christmas list this year. I didn’t really know what that item was going to be before, and now I do. I think most people have got their Garmin watch, or their multisport watch whatever brand it is, they wear that on their wrist. With the Garmin watch you just tell it, “I’m running on a treadmill,” and it is supposed to have some sort of smart sensor algorithm guesstimation of what your pace is. I know a lot of athletes rely on that. How are our watches estimating our paces, and are these accurate enough to base our workout on? Jeff: This is the question of the episode. This is the one that I’m going to dive deep in for a second, because everyone has this question. I’m the same as you, Andrew. Let’s just say I ran a seven-minute mile on a treadmill, the treadmill says I ran one mile in seven minutes. I know for a fact, at least on my treadmill – every one is different like you said – I know that if I gave that exact same effort and I went to a track, that mile would probably be a 6:30, honestly, kind of like you. But then if I put my watch in indoor mode and maybe I sync a foot pod with it, it closes the gap. It helps, it’s much more accurate doing that. So maybe that one would be a 6:45 mile let’s say, kind of meeting in the middle. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to set up your watch to close that gap. That’s the million-dollar question. Do these multisport GPS watches really work on a treadmill? The answer is yes and not really. Andrew: Great. Perfect. Jeff: I get this question all the time. Really this is how you do it, this is how you close that gap and make it much more accurate. First of all, you go to online forums and whatever, and most of them are going to say the treadmill is accurate. You think about it and go, “No, it’s not.” That’s what I was just saying. Their argument is that the treadmill belt is a given length. The treadmill knows the length of that, and how many revolutions it’s gone. So if the treadmill reports one mile, it is exactly one mile at that point because it’s a given length, it’s a given distance. But what changes a little bit is the ground is moving for you, so like we said before your stride length is a little different. Most people are too far forward up on that treadmill. They’re up at the front third of the treadmill, up near the computer, so now their arm carriage is really high, the elbow angle is too acute. A lot of these indoor watches use the arm swing and stride length to dictate or guess the pacing, so it throws everything off just because you’re running too far forward on the treadmill. Let’s dive into this just a quick second. Outdoors we have GPS. If you’re in some trees or if you lose GPS and you’re wearing a foot pod, then it will switch over to cadence and stride length, so your pace will still be pretty stinkin’ accurate. Indoors, unless you use a foot pod, your watch has to track distance using the accelerometer in the watch. In treadmill mode, these accelerometers track the distance traveled based on stride length, stride frequency or cadence, and there is also an arm swing component. So you can do a stride length test on your watch for a treadmill. Garmin Forerunners, for example, have a “calibrate treadmill” feature. After a workout in indoor mode, when you go to save the workout it’ll ask you to calibrate. You can use that to calibrate, and it will have you manually update the distance on your watch to match the distance shown on the treadmill. Andrew: Interesting. Jeff: It saves that data, and over time it’ll try to make the treadmill runs more accurate. So if you’re going to that gym every Sunday to do your run because it’s cold or whatever, try to pick the same treadmill each time – that same corner one, or that same TV, or as EJ said in front of that same mirror, so that you can look at your form and be good on there. The accelerometer calibrates itself based on your form metrics and your cadence from outdoor runs. It tries to smart learn a little bit, then it counts your steps on a treadmill and it estimates your distance. There’s a time aspect, it's a consistency. The issue here, though, is that many alter their stride a little bit and their arm carriage is a little off, so it could take a while to learn it, so give it some time. Those first three, four, five, eight runs might be a little frustrating, but over time it should close that gap if you’re doing it correctly. I’ll also say this, maybe try to calibrate your treadmill before buying that $100 calibration piece. Here’s something that you can do. First of all, make sure that you set up your watch correctly. You’ve tried to calibrate a little bit, that’s if you don’t have that foot pod. Then make sure you have good form. You need to run in the middle of the treadmill, not too far forward or too far back, and use that mirror to make sure you have good form. So you’ve done all of those things, you can also test the speed accuracy of your treadmill. You can use chalk to mark a spot on the belt of the treadmill, then count the revolutions at a given speed. For example, if your belt is three meters long and it takes 20 seconds for the belt to do fifteen revolutions, then the speed would be 3 x 15 divided by the 20 seconds, and that comes out to be 2.25 meters per second, which is five miles per hour. Then you look at the treadmill and make sure. Was that set at 4.5 when you did that? Then you know something’s a little off. If that treadmill is not showing that exact same calibration that you just did, that’s when you call that repair man to come in and calibrate, or you can go get that piece that Andrew was talking about. Then here is something that a lot of people forget or don’t even think about: make sure the treadmill is level from front to back at that zero incline. Just because the treadmill says 0° out of 20° incline, if it’s not perfectly level it won’t be. A lot of these treadmills, you can lay them on their side gently and adjust the height of the little feet on those treadmills, kind of like your smart trainer at home. If one side’s leaning to the other, you could be one leg dominant. Do you really have a hip drop, or is one side just two centimeters higher and you need to adjust the screw on the bottom of your smart trainer? So don’t forget about that aspect as well. Andrew: Yeah, Jeff, it sounds like you could save a hundred bucks if you’re willing to do a little math, that’s all, if you’re willing to do a little science experiment to check on your treadmill speed. So the treadmill is a staple, and at basically every gym in existence. It’s the go-to for indoor running. But there are other ways to work those run muscles indoors. Jeff, I know you, for example, often mix in time on an elliptical. How do you both feel about ellipticals, and maybe stair climbers, as another form of indoor running? Jeff: I’m a huge advocate of cross-training. I love it, I do it almost weekly, rowing, elliptical, treadmill. I don’t do a ton of the stair climber. I like it, it just tends to be a little bit more anaerobic for me, and I tend to use cross-training more for recovery, longer Zone 2 sessions, stuff like that. But knock on wood – I probably shouldn’t say this – I haven’t been injured much in my years of running and triathlon. A lot of it is because I incorporate the cross-training, but I’m also not afraid to listen to my body. What I’ll do is really listen to my body and just say, “Okay, I have an hour and a half run tomorrow. I’m a little beat up from my run yesterday, my calf feels a little tight. I’m not even going to risk it, I’m not going to test it.” So I might do thirty minutes on the elliptical, thirty minutes on a row machine, and then thirty minutes on a treadmill or something like that. Or I’ll say, “Hey, I have four by five minutes inside of that long run, so twenty minutes of it is fast.” So what I might do is 45 minutes cross-training the first half, and a 45-minute treadmill second half. It’s all low impact, but the first half is like a glorified warmup, my Zone 2 and stuff like that, then the next 45 minutes, the second half, I might incorporate that quality. It might take me 30 minutes to do that 20 minutes’ worth, with rest in between and stuff, then I still have 15 to 20 minutes on the back end to do the balance of Zone 2, cooldown type of an idea. So I get a little creative with that. I don’t do all of my long runs like that, I would probably argue that I do every third. I’d say that I did every other long run, I might do one on a treadmill and then the next one I’ll do outdoors. Maybe every other one of those treadmills, maybe every fourth, I might incorporate a little bit of that cross-training or elliptical in with that. Or a completely other spin is, on a week that I do my long run outside – let’s say I’m good to go, I’m healthy, I feel great, I’m locked and loaded – let’s get the ground-and-pound outside. Well then I might do an elliptical off the bike instead of run, or instead of that easy, straight-up Zone 2 run I might row for 20 minutes and then Stairmaster a little bit or elliptical for that other 20 to manually complete that. I’ll try to get my heart rate up – it’s a little bit harder when you’re cross training to get the heart rate exactly where you want it, especially if you’re using it for quality, but I definitely have the heart rate going when I do those. Elizabeth: That’s awesome. I’m just sitting here going, “Wow, you utilize those cross-training modalities even more than I thought.” I mean, I know we’ve been on some staff trips before where you’re like, “Yeah, I’ve got my Zone 2 run. Let’s go to the gym, I’m going to do it on the elliptical.” But I didn’t realize how often you were utilizing that. I think the part that I love the most about that is you’re just saying, “I’m listening to my body, I know when I need less impact.” I can’t say that I am as creative and use that as much. Pretty much if I’ve got a run on the schedule, I’m planning to run. I have used elliptical as some injury recovery. I have not ever really done a lot of extensive rowing, but I do use the stair climber. Not necessarily as a run portion of it, but I combine that with a lot of my leg-day strength workouts. That’s kind of my warmup: I’ll start at a nice easy pace on the stair climber, then go a little bit harder just to really engage a lot of those muscles that I plan to lift with the strength workout. So a little different take, but I love what you said, Jeff, about listening to the body and understanding when that might be a good option. Andrew: So last week we talked about some of the things that can help entertain you as you cycle indoors. Let’s carry that conversation into running. Now Jeff, you said earlier in this episode you’ve done some monstrously long treadmill sessions. In the time that I’ve known you, you did 20 miles on the treadmill in your rage and grief the morning of IRONMAN California being canceled. What tips do you have for occupying your mind while on the treadmill? Jeff: You know, I’m one of those who doesn’t like headphones on the bike. I don’t like headphones on the treadmill. I will play music on a Bluetooth speaker nearby, Pandora or something on my phone. On the bike I will put a movie on kind of over on the side for those really long sessions, but on the treadmill I don’t have movies, I don’t do anything extra. I think, I pray, I focus. I just like that, I like that mental grit of 2½ hours on the treadmill with no TV or anything. My treadmill is in my garage, at the edge of my garage – there’s a space of three or four feet on each side of the garage door opening, the big rectangle – so I kind of have it in the corner facing out. So I can see outside, I can see some nature and get a breeze here and there. That helps. I purposely put those equipment in my garage, but also strategically place it where I can see a little bit of nature. But those are my only tips. Really, I grind it out. I like that weird mental lost space mind whatever. Andrew: Elizabeth, last week you passionately defended not distracting yourself from your workout with too much entertainment at the wrong times. Do you feel that way about the indoor run as well? Elizabeth: You know, I do. Some of it comes back to what we said at the beginning of the episode. If you’re choosing to watch TV or movies, something on the screen, just be sure that you are very aware of your form, especially your neck and head. Don’t crane your neck to see a screen, don’t bend over or lean forward too much to get a good view. If the screen on the treadmill doesn’t work for your size, your posture, skip the videos. Stick with music or podcasts. Additionally, I’ve seen way too many people fall off the treadmill or roll their ankle because they’re texting while trying to jog, or they’re so intently watching TV they just forget about what they’re doing. Not that you have to run in silence, but definitely do be mindful. I personally love listening to music while on the treadmill. When you’re outdoors you need to be able to hear other athletes approaching, traffic and everything, you need to stay a little bit more alert. Indoors, I crank up the music. Andrew: Same, yep. Elizabeth: I mean, there’s just something great for me about punching through a challenging interval set with the music real loud. Andrew: I think our playlists are similar too. I think you and I have similar music preferences. Elizabeth: But really, overall, just know what works for you, just stay focused on the workout. For me, music elevates that for those indoor training sessions, but I’m not going to be watching TV, I still need to stay focused. It really comes down to staying safe. We don’t anybody rolling an ankle, we don’t want bad form that might cause an injury down the road. Cool down theme: Great set everyone! Let’s cool down. Vanessa Ronksley: Have we got something special in store for you today! I am so excited to have two guests on the show who have been very much a part of the triathlon scene for quite some time, and in many ways. This is Vanessa, your Average Triathlete with Elite-Level Enthusiasm, and it is my pleasure to welcome Chris and Diane Jackson to the cooldown. Diane Jackson: Hi everybody, how are you? Chris Jackson: Hello! We’re average too! Vanessa: I think the story goes a little something like this. You were sitting in a coffee shop at IRONMAN Coeur D’Alene, enjoying each other’s company, when three fine gentlemen asked you take a photo of them, and being the kind people you are, of course you did. And wouldn’t you know it, the photo was for Andrew, John, and the one-and-only Kurt Madden. Diane: That is correct. We go out for coffee almost every day. Part of when we’re traveling around, cheering Heather on and doing all of that, I research all the coffee shops. We happened to land in that one that day, and that was when we met the crew. Vanessa: That is so amazing. I am dying to know, what it is like to be the parents of a successful professional athlete? Diane: It can be hair-raising. It’s really fun. It’s fun to watch your kids grow and develop, and it gives us a chance to travel around. We love to travel. Generally we often tent camp when we’re out, sometimes we’ll do AirBnB, but we’ll just go wherever she’s headed. And if we haven’t been there, I check out what’s there, and we support her with anything she needs, then we cheer. Vanessa: That is so lovely. I love so much that you are still supporting your daughter, this professional athlete, and you’re still supporting her as if she were a little kid. Because a lot of times parents will support their kids up until a certain age, and then they kind of pull back from that support. I just love that you’re so invested in her growth and her career. That’s just so fabulous, I love that so much. Chris: It’s exciting. Even if we can’t be there, with the technology we’ll definitely track her during the race. Especially for a full-distance it becomes very tense, and then of course there’ll be lapses in coverage, and then you don’t know where she is and how it’s going, then she pops back up and the race continues on. Yeah, it’s fun, even if we’re not there, we follow her. We follow all of our kids. They’re all quite successful at this point. Diane: All over the place. Vanessa: So when you’re watching Heather, if you’re at the race or if you’re tracking her, has it gotten easier over the years in terms of how nervous you feel? Chris: No. Vanessa: Yeah, I can imagine. I know what it feels like to track my friends, and I get really excited and nervous. When it’s your own kid, it’s like a whole different level of nervousness and everything wrapped up into a ball of “This is crazy, what’s happening right now?” Diane: It’s really hard. You want her to do really well. You want her to have a good day, you want to see your kids be successful. You know how important it is to them, that these things all work out. If she has a good day – win, lose or draw – if she has a good day, it’s okay for us. You just want the best for your kids. Vanessa: So you both were triathletes, is that correct? Diane: Yes, it is. Chris: We still dabble at it. Shorter distance. Vanessa: You still do! Chris: Oh sure, once in a while, we’ll jump in. What was the last one we did? Diane: We did the Herbalife LA Tri. Vanessa: When did you start your triathlon careers? Chris: It started out with short races, 5Ks, 10Ks, then of course we met people and it became kind of a dare, “Hey, I’ll sign up.” Diane: “I’ll do it if you do it.” Chris: Yeah. Actually our first tri in New Hampshire, the water was cold, it was in the spring. We all signed up and we did it. Then she and I said, “We ought to really try a half.” So we signed up for the Timberman half, which was another popular one in New Hampshire. The other couple there that we had challenged, they did not. So then it’s like, “What if we double that? That wouldn’t be too bad.” We’ve done IRONMAN Lake Placid a few times. Vanessa: That’s a good one! Chris: Again, that was definitely an “I’ll sign up if you do.” Where were we, the expo in Boston, when we got signed up there. And Wattie, Heather’s husband, he jumped in too, that was in 2010. So yeah, we’ve done most all of the distances. Vanessa: Cool! And is it correct that Heather got into triathlon because of you? Diane: Yeah, we were doing the local ones, and she would come home and – actually I think her first one was the one Chris mentioned before. It’s actually kind of an interesting one, you ride a mountain bike up a road through the woods, you hit the lake, you have to swim across the lake, and then you run up Cannon Mountain which is one of the bigger ski areas in New Hampshire. She came and did that one with us. She was like, “Yeah, I’ll go, I’ll try it.” And she did, and geez, I think she came in third overall. Vanessa: Oh wow. Diane: It was one of those, “Oh geez. Yep.” She was waiting at the top, “I was wondering if you guys were gonna show up or not here,” as we’re struggling to get up this mountain Vanessa: Was that when she caught the triathlon bug? Diane: She was over in Thailand and was training over there. She was teaching, and she had joined a local boxing gym, It was Muay Thai, she’ll probably correct me when she hears this. But a bunch of them were going to do IRONMAN Phuket, and then they were going to do IRONMAN Malaysia. So she just jumped in with them, and that was sort of what really got her going. Vanessa: That’s awesome, I love that so much. Did you know right from when Heather was a young child that she was an exceptional athlete, and did you help to cultivate this for her physically or mentally? Diane: I would say that’s a big yes. I was a physical education specialist, health teacher, athletic director. By the time Becca came along, I had stayed home for eight years with the kids, before I went back to teaching. Basically, I would take them all over the place doing all kinds of activities, so they were exposed to a lot. And it was clear early on that she had more the drive and the intensity. I mean obviously she has the physical abilities, but oftentimes I think what’s lacking is that really self-focused drive, and she clearly had that. Vanessa: That’s something that you can’t really teach either, that has to be something that’s innate, like internal. Diane: Absolutely. She played on the boys teams until high school, so right up through. Because back then the girls teams were struggling to get started, and there just wasn’t enough competition for her. So we left her on the boys teams until she went to high school, then because she was at a private school they had the whole private school women’s league. Vanessa: Well, I think that you are both phenomenal, dedicated, inspiring parents, and I really want to thank you for being here and sharing with us today. I can only hope that I can inspire my kids in the way that you did, and show support for them throughout their lives in whatever they choose to do with themselves. You two are amazing, thank you so much for being here and sharing with us a little bit about yourselves. It’s been a true pleasure. Diane: Thank you so much for having us, it’s been great fun! Chris: Glad to share! Andrew: Well that’s it for today folks! Big thanks to pro triathlete Elizabeth James and coach Jeff Raines for helping us make strides in our indoor run sessions. Shout out to Precision Fuel & Hydration for partnering with us on today’s episode. Head to precisionfuelandhydration.com and use the code TRI10 for 10% off your first order. And don’t forget to go to tridot.com/psp to apply for the Preseason Project. Two free months of training to everyone who participates in this annual triathlon research study. Thanks for listening. We’ll do it all again soon, until then, happy training! Outro: Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew. For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head to TriDot.com and start your free trial today! TriDot – the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.
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