Triathlon Treadmill Training


Triathlon treadmill training might just be the perfect answer for getting in some running miles for your next race.

I learned all about the benefits of treadmill training when I went to Kona, Hawaii in 1984 to tackle my first Ironman.

I met this American guy who had a really interesting story about how he trained for the Ironman in Kona that year. He owned a boat and was sailing around the world and basically spent most of his adult life on the water sailing to exotic ports.

Just like myself that year he was captivated by the challenge of the Ironman—well he was “Ironstruck” I guess—and decided he wanted to try and reach the finish line in Kona, Hawaii.

He had a pretty big boat, but not so big that he could run and bike around the deck.

Swimming was not a problem because he was on the water all the time.

If they happened to anchor at some beautiful Caribbean island(his girl-friend sailed with him) he could swim all he wanted to in a protected harbor in the stunning blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea.

To solve the running and biking problem he set up a wind-trainer and treadmill on the deck of his boat. He said he did about 85% of his bike and run training for Ironman Hawaii 1984 while he was out in the middle of nowhere with no land in sight.

On occasion he would have an opportunity to run or bike on solid land. Not that often, but just enough to work on his balance on the bike and do some run hill training.

He did his first Ironman that year in around 13 hours.

My point is, not everyone lives in a part of the world where they can bike or run any time they want, or perhaps career, family, or other obligations limit their training time.

There’s not a thing wrong with triathlon treadmill training if that’s what it takes to realize your triathlon or Ironman dream.

The treadmills you can purchase today are much more sophisticated then what the subject of my story had to train on. Today they come with all sorts of bells and whistles depending on how much one wants to spend.

However a good quality basic wind-trainer from a reputable company that gives you the option to incline the treadmill for some hill training effect and perhaps a built-in heart-rate monitor would do the job just fine.

run training on a treadmill

Treadmill training has it's benefits if you are unable to get outside.

It seems to me that’s it’s a great alternative if you just cannot get outside to run very often for any reason at all.

Certainly it would be wise to work some outside running in with your triathlon treadmill training program, but there’s no reason that a big percentage of your Ironman run training can’t be done on a treadmill.

Often people will say that running seems much harder outside than on a treadmill and it’s most likely true. A treadmill does a certain amount of the work for you when you run on it and it’s a good idea to put in some miles on a surface that’s not moving under your feet and helping propel you forward.

But by mixing in some outside running with your inside running, you will have the best of both worlds.

Besides, there are not many first time Ironman triathletes who run the entire marathon course from start to finish. For the most part it’s a mix of slow running, shuffling, and walking(and praying).

That’s the reality of the Ironman, so don’t think you have to be outside running five days a week in order to conquer the Ironman run course. It’s simply not true.

Most people put in way more run miles than are necessary anyway and go into their Ironman over-trained and tired.

I read something Dave Scott said once.

If you can do half the Ironman run distance and half the Ironman bike distance and still feel like you could do more of either discipline, you will most likely do just find on race day. It’s not necessary to run 20-25 miles or put in a 100-mile bike ride every weekend.

This makes good sense to me and it’s especially valid if your ultimate goal it to just cross the finish line and become an Ironman anyway you can, regardless of how long it takes.

It may be boring to run on a treadmill but on the plus side you will never have to fight inclement weather, biting dogs, or speeding automobiles.

You have instant access to food, water, a shower, and a bathroom.

A treadmill is convenient in so many other ways as well.

Maybe you have the kids at home to look after and can’t just leave for a run whenever you feel like it. With a treadmill, if you have a run scheduled you won’t have to worry about having someone look after your kids.

You are right there with them while you run.

If you only have an hour to devote to running in the morning for example, you can pretty well roll out of bed and be running just minutes later without having to worry about dressing for the weather.

So if you want to be an Ironman a treadmill is an option worth considering if you happen to live somewhere that is not all the best for running or have limited time to train.

You don’t necessarily have to give up on your dream of crossing the finish line one day.

Think outside of the box and don’t buy into the hype that you have to train 20 hours a week in order to become an Ironman.

That wasn’t true 30 years ago and it’s not true today.

One thing I have learned about the Ironman over the years……if a person has the will, a dream, and the desire to reach the Ironman finish line, there is always a way to get it done.


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