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How To Train Indoors for Running

Marcus Sladden

Marcus Sladden

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Sometimes the elements aren’t on our side to train outdoors so you need to learn how to train indoors for running. Whether you work off shore or there is a global pandemic, you have to stay inside for a while. that doesn’t mean the training should stop! 

Just because you can’t lace up your running shoes and hit the pavements, that doesn’t mean you can’t get any quality training in. It’s all about adapting and learning how to train indoors.

How to Train Indoors for Running – 3 Ways to Improve Running Fitness

  1. Focus on your Strength Training

    You should be doing this anyway but this is a great time for you to focus on your run-specific strength training. It’s only going to be a benefit to you from a run performance angle as well as injury prevention.

    Top Five Reasons to Strength Train:
    1. Posture and efficiency.

      Your posture plays a big part in not only our day to day life but also in your running. Do you hunch over slightly as you work at your desk? More likely than not, you’ll probably hunch over slightly as you run too. 

      To put this into more context If you round your shoulders when you run and close in your chest, chances are you’re not getting as much oxygen as you should and this will work against you when you are trying to work harder as you run.

      Working on your strength training specifically for your posture can be a massive benefit to overall health and your running. 

    2. Improve Muscle Activation

      Like I said above our muscles can become dormant and just because we have the muscle there, it doesn’t always mean they are getting used! 

      Strength training is a great way to improve muscle activation and recruitment. Strengthening muscles in isolation, progressing to multi-joint and running-specific exercises can retrain muscle recruitment patterns and make sure all the right muscles are working how they should be to your run.

    3. Stronger Resilience

      The stronger you are, the more resilient you are going to be to the demands of running. Running is a repetitive action and can put huge pressure on your body, so having a stronger body to counteract the pavement pounding is only going to be a good thing. 

      When you have a stronger body, any existing weaknesses you may have could lessen. This is because strength training helps to improve structural weaknesses in your body, whether in the muscles, joints, or connective tissues.

      More times than not you’ll have one side or part of your body that is more dominant than the other. As this muscle gets overworked and injured then the weaker side has to compensate but due to lack of strength and injury could worsen. 

    4. Run Faster and with Better Technique

      study has shown that strength training improves running economy in distance runners. When you have more strength, you have more power and when you have more power you have more speed! 

      Strengthening your body will help improve and maintain your running form. Which translates into greater efficiency. Small improvements in efficiency make a huge difference, especially for longer races.

      Here is some further reading for Strength and Conditioning Habits of Competitive Distance Runners

    5. Burn More Calories

      There is no getting away from the fact that strength training burns more calories. This isn’t something you should be too obsessive over. 

      Strength training can help shift the pounds if you have started running for your weight loss journey so it is a win-win to start incorporating it within your training regime.

2. Utilise a Treadmill

For those of you that have access to one, jumping on the treadmill can have a number of benefits other than allowing you train indoors. How do you train indoors on a treadmill? There are a few different ways!

A lot of people see a treadmill as a boring piece of equipment that you just jump on for 30 minutes and that’s a run done. How many of you have used a treadmill for a structured session? The beauty of a treadmill is that you can set the pace and be consistent with your times and mileage.

Not only can you do sessions on a treadmill but some runners marathon train on treadmills alone. At least it gives you a chance to catch up with your favourite Netflix shows as you run if you are running for 2 hours+!

Post injury I have been using the treadmill to dial in some pace for my tempo runs whilst getting a feel for what pace works for me. Nothing ever changes on a treadmill other than how you feel on the day so everything is controlled. There is no weather to fight, no uneven ground or people to dodge.

Try out a 4 x 5 minute tempo with 2 minutes recovery for your next session on a treadmill and don’t forget to set the elevation to 1.0!

You can’t totally replicate outside running by running on a treadmill, but a study suggests that setting the treadmill to a 1 percent grade more accurately simulates outdoor running at certain speeds. Another study found that your VO2 max (how much oxygen your body can use during physical activity) is the same when running on a treadmill compared to outside. So while running outside may feel harder, what’s going on inside your body is similar.

3.Take Up a Different Sport or Type of Exercise

Just because you physically can’t run outdoors and if you don’t have access to a treadmill (indoors) doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising all together. 

Cross training is a great way to improve performance in your running. Sports such as Cycling helps improve running performance by developing fitness, stamina and endurance without damaging your leg muscles as much. It’s a great low impact cardiovascular workout too and by adding it to your training you’ll see some performance gains. Wondering how to do this indoors?

Cycling has become a very easy sport to do from the comforts of your own home with turbo trainers (if you own a bike) or stationary trainers that you can pick up at good prices! 

Yoga and Pilates are also other great exercises you can do because it promotes flexibility, strength and mindfulness for us runners. Pilates can especially highlight the areas we may be particularly weak within our bodies and encourages us to work on those and pilates/yoga can help with just that!

How to Train Indoors for Running – Self Isolation

Relating back to the pandemic situation it is important that even if you do have to self isolate staying active is not only important for your immune system but also for your mental health, try to fit in at least 30-40 minutes worth of exercise daily, whether that is house chores, stair repeats, circuit training or what I have mentioned above. Stay safe and if you need any advice or support then reach out.

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