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Police Fitness: Winter Running on the "Dreadmill"

Police Fitness: Winter Running on the "Dreadmill"

Stew Smith, CSCS

An email from a law enforcement recruit in Wisconsin requested information on how to spice up running on the “dreadmill.” He states, “During the winter time it is nearly impossible to run any timed event due to the 2-3 ft of snow on the ground or ice on the roads. Is treadmill running going to hurt the running ability I am trying to build up for academy training?”

Yes, I know all about the dreadmill and do not like it compared to running on the ground as I have always felt that the machine did a bit of the work for me. However, after experimenting with the treadmill during recent bad weather and some research, I have found some good workouts to do that will spice things up on the treadmill.

If doing a long – slow – distance (LSD) run, the treadmill can get a bit boring, but so can running around a track or even in some environments for that matter. To get more out of the run on a treadmill, slightly increase the incline 1-2% to make it similar to running on the ground. Now if you really want to push the caloric burn and work the legs and lungs, take it up to 5% and you will actually burn two times the amount of calories that on a flat treadmill.

But the LSD run does not spice up things on the treadmill, so add speed to the workout using interval and tempo training. Here are three workouts to add to your running plan during the week if stuck inside and cannot run on a track or trail. Try these workouts to increase speed in your mile pace.

Sprint Interval – Most treadmills can only go up to 10-2 miles per hour (5-6 minute per mile pace) so it is not a FULL sprint but about 80-90% full pace, but fast enough that many use the handrails for safety at this level on the fast runs. Run as fast as you can for 20-30 seconds, followed by a walk for 60-90 seconds. Repeat 8-10 times for a challenging routine.

Sprint – Jog Tempo Run – Pump that one up a bit and jog at standard run pace for you for five minutes. Then add the pace of your goal mile pace. Say you are trying to run a 6 minute mile. Shoot for that pace on the treadmill (which is 10 miles per hour) for as long as you can, then drop down to regular running pace for twice as long as you ran at goal pace. Repeat this cycle for as long as you can perhaps 5-6 times.

Tempo Training – Run 10-15 minute warm-up, run faster but comfortable run for 20 minutes, then a 10-15 minute cool-down to build leg endurance and running tolerance. Add some leg PT at every transition for adding workout. For instance do 20 squats, 20 lunges at each change in pace, then hop back on and run.

These workouts should help you keep your running pace as good as or perhaps even better than it was when you had to stop running outside. I think it is fun and smart to mix in a little bit of everything into your training plan as doing ONLY one thing for too long tends to neglect certain elements of fitness.

Hang in there and keep working and trying new things to spice up your routine.

  • Pictures_017_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Excellent ideas, especially for the hot/humid times coming up here in the midwest when the heat can be as bad as the cold.

  • 4076_1_sbl_max600_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I am an officer in Wisconsin and I know what he is talking about. If you still want to get out on the "dreadmill" I suggest a product called "Yaktrax". I recently added them to the "Gear" section under apparel and footwear. They make a "pro" version which is designed for running. I use the regular version for my everyday patrol.

  • Eagle_max50


    over 7 years ago


    You can try to do intervals such as a 5 minute walk and a 10 minute run. I do this for an hour and toward the end pick up the speed every two minutes and the last minute sprint it out at the top speed you can run. I do this once a week. The rest of the time I will do a continues run at one speed until I get to the last 10 min.

  • Headshot_max50


    over 7 years ago


    These are great treadmill workouts. Try to skip the 3-5 mile steady pace runs for a while. They get very boring and you will get tired faster because you feel as though you are working against the machine. Interval workouts are great for building speed and leg strenght. Every once in a while throw in a long distance run and gradually increase the speed every mile.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    Thanks for the input

  • Cimg1294_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Thanks for this article... I will give these techniques a try!

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