by Cody Beals

Ed. Note—We introduced our new signing, Cody Beals, last Thursday on the blog, and he's already contributing! Cody joins us today with a workout to help you through what is turning out to be a tough North American winter. Lace up them sneaks, and hit your local treadmill for a session that just may have you re-evaluating your relationship with that particular tool.

Slogging through a winter of indoor training in a northern climate isn’t for everyone. Smarter athletes jet off to sunny locales, tougher athletes bundle up and brave the elements… and then there’s me. Many years ago, I grudgingly accepted the trainer and treadmill as a necessary evil after my second case of frostbitten earlobes. At the time, it seemed like an admission of defeat. Old Man Winter had won the day! What began as drudgery soon led to an epiphany as I realized that indoor training carried numerous benefits: precision, time efficiency, safety and more. Since then, the trainer and treadmill have become indispensable tools in my year-round training plan.

After my post-season downtime, I typically reintroduce intensity with a month-long block of short 10-20 second hill sprints. Following this high end work, I move most of my run workouts indoors as the weather turns. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a treadmill session that has become a staple in my off-season routine: Progressive Incline Intervals. This session is a loose adaptation of the classic “Mona Fartlek” attributed to Australian runner Steve Moneghetti. As written below, the workout totals one hour with 16 minutes of fast running at progressively steeper incline. The generous recovery intervals encourage quick turnover and good form.

My training paces for the treadmill version of this session are listed below, but this could easily be adapted to the track or road as well as any fitness level. If you don’t have access to a treadmill with variable incline, the workout can be modified with progressively increasing speed instead. Ed. Note—Cody gives us speeds here that are particular to HIS training. Trying to mimic them exactly may result in injury or worse (crashing on your local treadmill is never fun, and a good way to end up as a viral video) if you're going to perform this workout, the 8.4 mph sections should be done at a warmup/easy effort of 4/10, and the 12.5 mph sections should be done at a very hard effort of 8/10, similar to what you might do on the track for a set of 400s.

Warm up: 10 mins @ 8.4 mph, 0.5% incline

Intervals with 90 s recovery as 15 s off belt + 75 s @ 8.4 mph, 1% incline:

4 × 90 s @ 12.5 mph, 1% incline

4 × 60 s @ 12.5 mph, 3% incline

4 × 45 s @ 12.5 mph, 5% incline

4 × 30 s @ 12.5 mph, 7% incline

4 × 15 s @ 12.5 mph, 9-11% incline 

Cool down: 5 mins @ 8.4 mph, 0.5% incline 

I’ll aim to complete this workout one per week for several weeks before moving to longer VO2 intervals. This is definitely one of my more elaborate workouts, but the structure keeps you focused and provides some entertainment on the treadmill. I find that the 90 second recovery interval is just enough time to find that perfect song to power you through the next work interval. Hopping on and off the treadmill belt also requires a little practice and agility—not my forte! Be advised that you may draw some strange looks at the gym, especially when you nearly wipeout… not that that’s ever happened to me…

Stay safe, keep warm and have fun!