'Dreadmill' tips for getting back on track post-pregnancy
RUN CLINIC:I am just starting back into running after a long break due to pregnancy. Unfortunately I’m confined to the treadmill for the winter months as I live in the country and the roads are too dangerous for running in the dark. Any advice for getting started? What sort of programme should I be doing on the treadmill? CG
Well done on getting committed to running again. That you have found the energy and time to get back into shape is commendable when the temptation to curl up on the sofa and devour box sets and takeaways in equal measure whenever you get a break from the baby must be overwhelming at times (errr, not that I am writing from experience here . . .)
I take it from your question that the following options are not available to you:
1.If you are back at work, a lunchtime run or a run to or from work?
2.If you are at home with the baby – no chance of escape during daylight hours to squeeze in a run outdoors?
Because, the Grit Doctor decrees: If there is any way of avoiding the “dreadmill”, then avoid it. Assuming for whatever reason that the above scenarios are not doable, then please take what you have learned from the treadmill during the week outside at least once but preferably twice over the weekend during daylight hours.
The fresh air will feel invigorating both physically and mentally: plus, having to run with the elements is altogether more challenging, thus improving your fitness and stamina. In the meantime, to prime your body for spring cross-country running, I recommend the following:
1. Always set the treadmill at least at an incline of 1 (no incline at all will be too easy, much like running downhill);
2. Start with a good brisk walk to take your running temperature (metaphorically speaking). So set the treadmill at a speed where you are walking really briskly and are able to sustain the pace for up to 45 minutes.
3. During a subsequent session, when you feel ready, break into a short jog (for as long as you can sustain it, either at the brisk walk speed or slightly faster).
4. The aim is to sustain the jog for as long as possible – NOT to jog as fast as possible for a very short period of time.
5. Once you are able to jog for 40-45 minutes at a minimum incline of 1 without stopping, you can start taking advantage of a host of programmes that will vary your speed and/or the incline. Stretch yourself by all means but only to the extent that you can sustain the jog for 40-45 minutes.
How you reach this position (of 40-45 minutes continuous jogging) is a matter for you.
There are programmes that will mix it up: some jogging and some walking intervals, but I find the easiest way is to jog for as long as I am able and then brisk walk the remainder of the session. And to keep extending the length of the jogging part that way.
I have always found “stop starting” much less motivating, but it is up to you.
Do not get side-tracked by creating a complicated treadmill workout that is beyond your fitness level, as this can be terribly demotivating. Far better to nail 40-45 minutes first (no matter how slowly you jog) and then vary it. I am always amazed at how many people come onto the treadmill for five minutes or less because they simply cannot sustain whatever ridiculous incline or speed they have set themselves.
The Grit Doctor says:Get on the treadmill by all means as a temporary measure but be sure to take your runs outdoors as soon as daylight hours allow.
Tweet your running queries to Ruth at: @gritdoctor
RUTH FIELDis author of Run, Fat Bitch, Run