Posts Tagged ‘Treamill’

Running With Headphones:

I’m a bit of a music snob. When the mp3 player came out I never thought it would catch on. “Lossless audio compression my ass”, I used to say. But as headphones got worse and worse and standards became lower and lower (to the point where listening to music through a mobile phone speaker on a bus has become acceptable) I became more and more wrong. I have never bought an iPod. I refuse to pay money to a company that has made billions out of selling mp3 players but never put any of that money into improving the sound quality and upgrading the standard headphones that come with them. I told you I was a snob.

I own a Zune and listen to music regularly while on my training runs. Like many others, I have an armband (a stretchy one made by Nike) that carries my mp3 player. Now there are a couple of questions that I’ll try to answer in this post. Firstly, is listening to music good running decorum? Secondly, if you do listen to music while running, what type of music do you listen to?

This is actually a widely debated subject in the running world. There are hundreds of different pros and cons of listening to music on the go. I’ve listed just a few here and you can make up your own mind.

Pros: –

  • Motivation
    Runs can be long and, depending on where you run, a little boring.
  • Keeping rhythm
    Some people base their foot strokes on the tempo of the beat they’re listening to. This is a very good method of keeping to a strict pace.
  • 2 birds with 1 stone
    It doesn’t have to be music you’re listening to. You could be catching up with the week’s news, listening to a football match or learning another language while reaping the rewards of a running session.
  • More energy
    There’s nothing more uplifting than hearing your favourtie tune and that can reflect dramatically in your running.

Cons: –

  • It’s unsafe
    Being unable to hear traffic, other runners or strangers in the dark is a serious disadvantage.
  • Missing out on your running community
    If you live in London then this won’t apply to you (because nobody talks to anyone else down here) but keeping your headphones in alienates you from fellow runners.
  • Timing
    For those that have a good sense of rhythm listening to music can throw you off your stride or affect your breathing patterns.

Here’s where I stand. I completely agree with the timing disadvantage. One thing I’ve noticed when I’ve run without headphones is that I can regulate my breathing by counting how many steps I’m taking. At the beginning of a run I’ll breathe in for 3 steps and out for 3 steps. As the run progresses and the intensity increases I’ll shorten that to 2 steps. This has meant that I’ve not over-done it in the early stages and achieved a good overall time. If I’m listening to music that goes out the window. I can play the drums (like a god) and the music I’m listening to really affects my rhythm and ultimately my breathing. Working hard at uni

Running with headphones in can be unsafe but only if you have the spacial awareness of Stevie Wonder. Just turn the volume down a little bit and if there is someone lurking in the dark waiting to grab you then chances are you can run faster than them anyway! The most danger I’ve ever been in from running with headphones in was when I was on a treadmill and caught the headphone cable with my arm. It pulled my mp3 player from the little holder in front of me and I nearly broke my neck trying to jump over it as it shot out the back of the treadmill, smashing into it’s component parts. Thank god for shock testing.

I love getting away from it all and blasting out some tunes on my training runs but I completely disagree with listening to music during an actual race. This was actually banned in some races in the US, albeit for the wrong reasons. I will definitely not be sporting an mp3 player during the London Marathon. If half-a-million people can take the time to come out and give their support then I’ll damn well listen to them. Heck, there may even be a bit of music as you go round. During the BUPA London 10k there were some awesome Banghra drummers at 3k and 7k, at the Finsbury Cancer Research 10k there were 2 guys with a digery do and a djembe and at the Nike Human Race there was a band playing at 2k (they sucked but that’s not the point). But to not give the supporters the courtesy of your attention is bad form.

I won’t spend too long on this because I’ve rambled on for too long but which songs you choose while training is crucial. If you haven’t heard of Nike+ then it’s basically a chip that you place in your shoe that syncs with your mp3 player. You can set it to play your ‘power song’ when you reach a certain time/distance to give you that extra boost to complete your training (along with a load of other nifty features). Unfortunately it only works with iPods (damn me and my laurels!). The reason I’ve plugged Nike+ so hard is because of their current top-10 list of power songs (some inspiration for your playlists here) that consist of songs like ‘Eye of the Tiger’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ (awesome) and ‘Firestarter’.

I’m not going to embarrass myself too much by revealing my playlist choices as my music taste is somewhat eclectic (stretching to anything from Simply Red to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) but I do have one suggestion. James Bond theme tunes. When Tina Turner broke into the bridge in ‘Goldeneye‘ during my run back from Canary Wharf I’ve never run with more determination or vigour…

Enjoyed this? Check out the Headphones for Runners reviews.

Treadmill Running:

'Checking it's real' at the Finsbury Cancer Research 10K 2008We’ve just had one of the coldest weather spikes in British history. For the first weeks of January 2009 the weather was so cold that worried pensioners up and down the country were given an extra £25 per week to help with their fuel bills.

Now, technically I’m a northerner. When I was a wee bairn I’d be fetching logs in for the fire in a pair of flip-flops and a tank top. But, one of the things they don’t tell you about moving to London is how hot the city can get and you quickly become acclimatised to it. So this cold spike hit ‘us’ southerners quite hard. I have a pair of jogging bottoms but they’re heavy and I haven’t quite plucked up enough courage to sport these ninja tights I keep seeing people wearing (I still look like a pigeon). So, to keep warm (and for convenience sake), I took up treadmill running at my local gym.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of running on a treadmill. But before we get on to these we first have to follow some rules:

  1. 20 minutes only at peak-time.
    From the hours of 5 – 7pm (in most gyms) you may run for a maximum of 20 minutes to allow others to have a turn. This rule is not displayed anywhere in the gym but is widely known (by everyone except yourself and will unwillingly be instructed to you by some know-it-all). I got thrown off the treadmill half way through a 40 minute stint the other day by a guy who then ran for 15 minutes at just above walking pace and did nothing but check out the local talent. Seething. My view is, if you can’t get to the gym fast enough to get a free treadmill then run faster.
  2. No comparing.
    You must never look at the runner next to you to compare their speed setting to yours. If you do you will instigate a level war. This is where you nonchalantly increase the speed of your treadmill to one setting above that of your neighbour. Your neighbour will respond but only when you’re looking the other way. This will continue until one party can take no more and hits the dreaded ‘Cool Down’ button.
  3. Look straight ahead.
    Look behind you or turn your head to the side at your peril. Your body will follow the direction of your head and before you know it you’ll be on the edge of the belt or falling off of the back.
  4. Let go of the hand-rails
    This is fine while walking, but if you hold on while running (some treadmills have heart-rate monitors that require you to hold on to two metal sections of the hand-rail) you’ll end up looking like either Frankenstein or the Lone Ranger.

If you follow these steps you’ll be able to reap the advantages of running indoors. You’ll be avoiding frostbite (in all seriousness), wind chill and, in wet weather, chafing. For advice on Winter running see this article from In the case of marathon runners, your training will take place in the Winter months. Then, come April and race day, the sun decides to shine like it did in the London Marathon 2007. All of a sudden you’re out of your comfort zone. You’re not used to the dry and hot conditions and you become dehydrated. Running indoors will acclimatise you to that heat.

The treadmill will also be softer on the joints than running on tarmac and can help you keep up the training while trying to relax those jarred bones. However, some experts tell us that it can be too soft on you. It’s all in the physics. When running on the ground, your legs are working hard to drive your centre of mass forward. You accelerate as you push off (when your leg is behind you) and decelerate as your front leg meets the ground. On a treadmill your centre of mass is static and your legs are positioned to keep your centre of mass stable. In essence, the ground is moving your legs, dramatically decreasing the work load. Where a treadmill is good for overall fitness, it may not be as beneficial to the competitive runner.

I’ll be sticking with it until the sun decides to shine after work. If it’s not your thing then I suggest you go out and buy eight treadmills and make yourself a kick-ass music video

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