Thursday, April 7, 2011

Treadmill issues

Generally, I don't have any problem with treadmills.

Some people seem to hate them - calling them names like "dreadmill" or "the rubber band of doom." I find they have a good place in my training - both as a last resort, when the weather outside isn't cooperating, but also to control pace. I've been doing my intervals on the treadmill for the last few months, as well as some progression runs and a few long runs that I needed to keep at race pace. The ability to dial in my pace means I am forced to stay at that pace for longer than I probably would otherwise.

The gym I go to has a line of about 15 treadmills. Usually, at the time of day I'm there, there is a max of two other people using them - most often, I'm on them alone. This is a good thing, because I can have my pick of them , and if one shuts down mid-workout on me (as has happened a few times) I can switch to another.

I end up having "favorite" machines - ones that have seemed to work well for me in the past. These are ones that seemed to be well-calibrated as far as pace, had fairly smooth-running bands, and are in front of a TV I don't mind watching. Sometimes a few favorites are working, sometimes one or more have error messages or are turned off, but usually I can find a good one to use.

This morning, when I went in for my progression run, none of my favorites were working.  I stepped onto a treadmill that I hadn't used before, and ten seconds later shut it down. The action of the belt was so jerky that I felt like I was going to jam my knee if I continued. Fortunately, the machine next to it was working, and after a minute or so, it seemed to be running fine.

The progression run I was doing had a 15 minute warm up, 30 minutes progressing from 7 minute miles to 6:30 miles, and a 15 minute cool down. About halfway into my warmup (which I try to do at about 9 minute mile pace) It felt like I had sped up. Checking the treadmill, it still read 9:03 pace, which was where I had left it, but my Garmin (measuring via footpod) was showing my pace as around 8:10. I chalked it up to mis-calibration between the watch and the treadmill, and finished out the warmup.

At the 15 minute mark, I sped the treadmill up to 7:00 pace. Checking my watch, I saw that it read under 6:30 pace - around 6:25, I think it was. I didn't last long at that pace - I certainly didn't feel like I could bump the speed up, like I was supposed to for a progression run. I ran 10 minutes at that pace, and then called it - dialing the treadmill back to my warmup/cooldown pace of 9:00. Again, my watch registered 8:10 pace.

After a few minutes at that pace, the treadmill noticeably slowed. I checked the settings again, and nothing on the treadmill had changed - although my watch was now reading almost a 10 minute mile. At this point I ran it out to the 30 minute mark, then gave up in disgust. The workout is marked in my Garmin Connect as "Treadmill progression fail."

Anyone else ever have treadmill issues like this? Any thoughts? Do I need to change gyms or buy my own treadmill?

5 comments:

Rebecca said...

Where you doing a program inadvertently or was it on the manual setting?

Is there a time length programmed into the treadmill? For most gyms they are programmed for 60 minutes total before they end your workout, although at busier places the limit is 30 min, not sure if they ever program the machines to adhere to that time limit though.

Did you have stuff hanging off of the top/front that might have been pressing on the buttons?

Weird experience.

Turi said...

Nope it was definitely the manual setting, and all the treadmills at my gym have a 60 minute time limit. I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything hitting the buttons - just a towel and my water bottle. Everything was the same as usual, except for the pace changing. Must have just been a wonky machine.

Thanks for the ideas, though -

Nitmos said...

I wouldn't know if my gym's treadmills were miscalibrated. I just trust they are correct while I get lost in home remodels on HGTV.

slowrunner77 said...

Turi, that is why i left 24 hour "shitness" and joined a real gym. i spent too much time on treadmills, especially over the winter, to play russian roulette with my training plan on daily basis. i used to have 3 favorites out of the 12-15, then the favorites started breaking, then i left for greener pastures. they never replace them, just half-assed "fix" things, not to mention the mills at the NW gym aren't even commercial mills...

slowrunner77 said...

for the record, i've NEVER had a problem at any other 24 Hour...just the one you go to :)