Today's training called for 3 miles. That's a snap. It's a sprint. Just over 22 minutes then I'm done. Although it's mind numbing, I'll do short distances like this on a treadmill.
The problem with a treadmill is that it's like running downhill. Unlike the pavement or other land surface, the belt of a treadmill is in constant motion and moving with you... beneath you. Believe it or not that assists you tremendously in your running. A treadmill doesn't provide the same resistance and friction as the good old fashioned ground does. Therefore, it makes running on a treadmill much easier. Treadmills also don't expose you to the normal elements of running. There isn't heat, wind resistance, rain or snow. Therefore in this somewhat tranquil controlled environment you're getting much less of a workout than a traditional outdoor run. This point was made clear to me several years ago. As one colleague said, "Unless you have a treadmill on at least a one percent incline, you are basically running downhill the entire time." So, many years ago, I decided to make running on a treadmill more interesting. I'd play with the incline and speed controls to make the run more interesting and a better workout.
Until recently, I'd typically start out a three mile run at 7.1 mph. Each 1/10th of a mile, I would increase the speed by .1 mph. At the end of three miles, I would be cooking along at a 6 minute mile pace (10+ mph). That would get the old ticker pounding. Those on the treadmills next to me didn't appreciate the way my sweat would fly in their direction, but that's the price of running next to me. At the last gym I belonged to, several co-workers were also members of the same gym. They made it clear to me that they made a point of occupying treadmills at a distance from my sweat spray. I still take jokes from them about this. They also didn't like the way I'd try to keep a conversation going while we were both huffing and buffing like steam engines. NOTE: When I'm done running, a treadmill looks like it's been raining. Be considerate of your fellow gym rats and wipe down the machine after your workout if you sweat like I do.
Recently, the friend of a friend introduced me to a new treadmill excursion they titled: "777". Get this: You run 7 mph at a 7% incline for 7 minutes. Then you reduce your speed until you achieve the next nearest mile. Then crank it up all over again to 777. Try this. It's killer. Quite honestly, I can't do it. I've adapted my own version of 777 for my own running program. I start out a 4% incline at 8 mph. At each 5/100ths of a mile, I increase the incline ½ percent and decrease the speed .1 mph until I reach 777 nirvana.
I've been doing this since December and have seen some interesting results. By doing this, I burn 25% more calories according to the treadmill calculations (who knows if those things are accurate). I've gone from roughly 300 calories over 3 miles to 400 calories in the same distance. I've also seen an increase in my endurance and upper leg strength. Like any good training program, I'm ready to take this to the next level. I plan on starting at a 5% incline at 7.5 mph while continuing the same pattern for increasing the incline while decreasing the speed. My goal is to one day fly like a 777.