Tag Archives: treadmill

The Bill Phillips Body For Life Inspired 10 Minute Warmup

A bit over 20 years ago, I bought the famous Bill Phillips book Body For Life. I won’t go too much into the premise of the book, its historical context at the time or its many flaws (including in-book product promotion). At the time, I found the template for fitness and diet interesting, so I bought it and followed the plan.

The book’s training method had you aggressively strength-train several days a week and follow some simple diet principles. For “cardio”, it had you do 20 minutes of effort-based high intensity intervals, which you can do in any aerobic-based way you desired, three days per week. I always used the treadmill. Back then I wasn’t the focused runner I am now, nor was I active beyond walking or cycling to commute, but I had enough fitness to run hard for some distance.

In short, the Cardio:

  • You start at a 5 out of 10 effort, whatever you feel that means
  • After two minutes you increase to 6 out of 10.
  • Each minute thereafter you again increase effort by 1, until you do a minute at 9 out of 10.
  • Then you scale back to 6 out of 10 for a minute, once again ramping each minute until at 9 out of 10, then falling back to 6 and repeating the process.
  • Once you get to 9 out of 10 for the 4th time, instead of dropping back to 6 you increase to 10 out of 10 and hold that for a full minute.
  • Then drop back to 5 and cool off for the final couple of minutes at 5 out of 10 to end the workout.

This workout always kicked me around, but I was always able to get it done. It was the only running I did, and you did it every 2-3 days so I had plenty of time to recover before the next one. I followed the Body For Life plan for a little while and then left it behind, probably in part because I lost gym access around that time.

In any case, this interval sequence resided in the back of my mind pretty much all this time. I still have the book but haven’t cracked it in a long while. The strength workouts I’ve forgotten as they’ve long since been replaced by far superior approaches.

But during recovery from my injury problems, as I started using the treadmill again, this approach came to mind as a warmup. It’s very similar to the 10 minute progressive treadmill warmup Lifetime Fitness taught me during my VO2max testing a while back. In that warmup, you jog for 2 minutes, and speed up by 0.4mph each 2 minutes before ending at a speed that is somewhat fast for you.

I realized that’s quite similar to how I did the Body For Life intervals. For 5/10 I would start at a 3.0mph walk. Then my 6 would be a fast 4.0mph walk. My 7 would be a 5.0mph slow jog. My 8 would be a 6.0mph steady run. My 9 would be a 7.0mph hard run. And the 10 out of 10 would be a nearly all-out (… well, at the time) 8.0mph run.

While the top intervals were harder than anything in the Lifetime warmup, the bottom intervals were of course much easier on me and allowed me to recover. The Lifetime warmup was harder to do because it required 10 straight minutes of progressively harder running (though, at least it was done after the fastest interval).

I realized doing an adjusted 10 minute version of the old Phillips workout as a warmup would be an easier and possibly more effective warmup, since I’d hit a faster top speed with a shorter duration, then have a walking period to cool off before re-trying.

I tried it recently and it not only felt better as expected, but I found it did a much better job getting my body ready to run at a higher intensity. So now that’s what I do as a warmup before any key indoor workouts (and you’ll notice I adjusted from the above paces a bit).

  1. I start at a 3.0mph walk for 1 minute.
  2. Increase to a 4.0mph power walk for 1 minute.
  3. Increase to a 5.0mph very easy jog for 1 minute. If too easy (e.g. I’m running into the front of the treadmill), I increase to 5.3mph, a more typical jog/recovery pace for me.
  4. Increase to 6.0mph steady run for 1 minute. If feeling comfortable after a few seconds I’ll often increase to 6.2mph.
  5. Increase to a brisk, somewhat demanding 7.0mph for 1 minute. If feeling comfortable after a few seconds I’ll often increase to 7.3mph.
  6. Drop back down to 3.0mph for 1 minute, and repeat the sequence.
  7. After the 10th minute, shut it down and go dynamic-stretch before the workout.

Since many of my treadmill sessions cruised around 5.5-6.5 mph, this whole sequence made that range feel very sustainable over a long period of time, suitably warming me up for a workout like that.

I not only do this warmup before treadmill runs but also do it before other cross training sessions, to ensure I’m at and can reach a suitable heart rate training range for a maximum training stimulus and benefit.

If I run near my gym, I could also do this warmup in the gym, then go outside and run. Sure, it can be awkward walking out of the gym 15 minutes after arriving, then back in the gym 45-75 minutes later.

I could also, with some discipline and adjustment, do the warmup outdoors by feel. That makes some sense after all, since the workout was originally intended to be done by effort rather than set parameters. I had an outdoor run yesterday that didn’t go great and had to be cut short. While not certain, perhaps it could have gone better had I thought to do an outdoor warmup like this.

You could follow the above sequence, with your own pace and parameters. Whatever a 5 out of 10 feels like or a 9 out of 10 feels like is up to you to determine (notice I don’t ever go to 10 out of 10, by the way; I stop at 9).

You could walk for 4 minutes and run just for 1. You could start at an easy run and just have it be all running. You could do it all on a spin bike or a rowing machine or elliptical. It’s up to you.

But I found this to be a great 10 minute aerobic warmup sequence, and it might work for you as well.

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Checking In 10/3/2021

Yesterday I spent about four hours at the gym, with 3:20 of that on the treadmill and elliptical.

I wanted to spend a full three hours running on the treadmill, but about 67 minutes in I felt a twinge in my right hamstring that didn’t quickly disappear. So I shut down running and moved to the elliptical, where I could work pain free, and spent another 2 hours 13 working at a high zone 1 low zone 2 effort.

I was tired when finished and understandably stiff but not in any pain beyond workout soreness, and this morning while sore I don’t feel at all beat up. After relaxing a bit, I’m going to strength train and ride the elliptical for 80 minutes today, and we’ll see how I’m feeling tomorrow morning. That my right hamstring is not bothering me much at all (beyond feeling a bit sore, like the rest of me) and I can move normally tells me I shut it down at the right time.

Was it running on the treadmill once again? Not really… I wasn’t struggling at all with my steady easy run, and the brief surges every 9-10 minutes weren’t terribly fast or difficult. If the twinge didn’t suddenly appear I wouldn’t have had much trouble (beyond fatigue, obviously) running that way for a full three hours.

The only possible thing I can imagine led to it was that I paused the treadmill for a bit to take fluid and fuel. While pausing the treadmill was planned and helped recover, doing that resets all the treadmill settings (a bug/feature of these mills).

While I obviously got the treadmill back up to speed, I forgot to restore the 1.0 incline I had originally set, and that may have caused some undue strain in the later minutes. An incline generally helps reduce the needed extension on your stride, which is easier on your body even if climbing takes a bit more effort. The pounding of running on the mill can be exacerbated by this lack of incline by causing a hamstring-constrictive overstride.

I also noticed the twinge happened during one of the 30 second surges. The surges were a bit faster than I had originally planned, but were still comfortable, and I think the incline might have been a bigger factor. It probably didn’t help, though.

Finally, it’s worth noting I ran the workout in my Topo ST-3’s, which are minimalist low-drop shoes. There was no support, which I usually prefer. But that probably contributed to any extra pounding from the above issues. I don’t know for sure that a more supportive shoe would have avoided the problem (a bigger sole could have caused an easier heel strike that would have produced more of the aforementioned overstride). But fatigue usually exacerbates any pounding from the lack of support, and while not causing the problem I imagine that didn’t help.

I will probably test out a work break run on Monday and that should give me a good idea of whether I need more rest, or it will be fine as long as I’m not on a treadmill.

Some good news is Vegas will finally cool below 80 degree (F) highs this week, so I can probably run outside after work again. Monday will still be a bit warm in the low/mid 80’s, but Tuesday after work will be around 75 degrees, which works great. If I run on pavement and stay off the treadmill, I can probably avoid further trouble. A couple of turns on The Big Loop this week will be good for my fitness and form.


Side note, and this is probably a good time to have started this, but I started taking RejuvenZyme, a blend of systemic enzymes that aid in recovery through combatting inflammation and actually consuming excess scar tissue. The Tissue Rejuvenator I currently take does have some of these enzymes, but like most supplements they exist more for digestion than any recovery aid.

The particular unique enzymes in RejuvenZyme are Chymotrypsin and Serrapeptase. These are hard to find in any vitamin or supplement blend, as most producers focus on digestive enzymes (which are not hard to find). You usually have to get each separately and take them with your stack, but I was fortunate to find a blend that has all of them plus some other essentials that work with them like Bromelain and Papain. It wasn’t cheap (the bottle of 120 I got was about $48), and no one really carries it: I had to go to a specialty store in West Las Vegas aptly called Stay Healthy(!) to find them.

But if this does work for me, I do think I’ll recover quicker and avoid exercise-related inflammation. Plus, of course, it would help with whatever issue popped up yesterday, and speed along its healing.

For now, I’m taking it mostly easy today aside from the planned cross training workout. Maybe I’ll take a nap. Busy week of training starts tomorrow, with rest days Thursday and Sunday, though it’s a down week so Saturday’s training isn’t currently planned to be terribly long. The real hammer week will be the following week, ending with my planned Vancouver getaway. After that, we head downhill into the taper for Indy.

More to come.

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Checking In 10/2/2021

There won’t be an outdoor run today. The weather was fine, but I clearly needed to sleep in quite a bit, which for me is until about 6:30am, and at that point it’s far too late in the morning to get to starting a long run and not end up in too hot conditions for the run to go fine.

So the plan today and tomorrow is to work on the treadmill at easy pace to marathon pace, by swinging two workouts. Plan A was to do a long run of about 16-18 miles today and an hour of running tomorrow, and in each I’d stop and walk after 2 miles for fluid and fuel, as I will when I run Indy.

Workout 1 is an easy interval style long run, running most of it at an easy, slow pace where every 10 minutes I’d briefly surge to marathon pace, then dial back to easy pace. I’d pause every 20 minutes for fluid and fuel, then resume. Obviously the gym treadmills stop at one hour, so that break would be a bit longer, but I’d restart and get right back at it until I’ve done three hours.

However, if not feeling like death, the 3rd hour would increase 15 minutes in from easy pace running to marathon pace running, with 30 second surges to Easy Interval pace every 10 minutes. Again, I’d stop every 20 minutes for fluid and fuel as before.

Workout 2 is a marathon pace workout that should take about 80-90 minutes, and basically practices the mechanics of race day. I start with marathon pace, then slow to a walk at 2 miles to take fluid and fuel. Once situated I get back to marathon pace until I get to 4 miles, then stop the treadmill outright for fluid and fuel in a more extended break. Once ready, I restart the treadmill and repeat the process, ultimately doing four long marathon intervals of about 2 miles each. The reason I don’t do a full hour ending with a runout is I want to simulate the true mechanics of running between the Indy aid stations, and ending each hour with a shorter run-out screws that up.

I could start on the treadmill today and find it won’t work for my body to go 3 hours today, so then I could pivot to Workout 2 and only do an hour, maybe only do three 2-mile intervals since I’ll have been running a bit by that point, then take it easy the rest of the day and go for the long Workout 1 tomorrow.

However, Workout 1 today and Workout 2 tomorrow is the plan for now, and I believe that can work just fine. If I get through this weekend with both completed as planned, I’m in very good shape for Indy given where I was a month ago.

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Checking In 10/1/2021

Yesterday’s treadmill workout ended up being a total success. Who knew.

I had briefly considered running outside at the park after work, as it was somewhat cool for Vegas outside, but when I got off work the sun turned out a bit too hot for that, so I went with Plan A and headed to the gym.

Plan A turned out just fine, even though the workout ended up taking after 7pm to finish, around 90 minutes of total time at the gym.

On the treadmill I ran a kilometer (I set the machine to show me kilometers instead of miles) at a pace defined according to my projected 10K effort by charts in Klaas Lok’s Easy interval Method (between 5.9 and 6.3 mph), then stopped for water and then jogged an easy kilometer at a much slower recovery pace. I repeated this process four times for 8K total, then finished with a “run-out” where I ran above the top pace (6.4mph) until I got to 60 total minutes of running. It turned out the run-out was a 5th kilometer interval, as I got to 9K right before the hour was up.

The workout while tiring felt good and none of the intervals were any sort of agony, never felt like I wanted them to be over. I got great practice at faster paces but not so fast that I couldn’t be sure if I could finish the workout. I guess this workout is a keeper!

On my recovery intervals I experimented with what I project to be my marathon pace, holding it for about 200-300 meters before fading back to recovery pace, as it wasn’t too much faster than the recovery pace (it’s certainly below the interval paces). This wasn’t at all difficult, so that’s a good sign.

The next treadmill workout will probably be extended marathon pace intervals, to simulate the rhythm of race day at Indy next month. I plan to run station to station, and then slow to a walk for fluid and fuel at each aid station. This will require about 10-20 minutes of running between the stations, then about 30 seconds of walking.

So for marathon intervals I run 20 minute intervals (simulating only the longest distances between stations will make the shorter ones feel easier) with 30 second walk breaks to take in water and fuel.

This can be an easier, more aerobic workout, while the easy intervals are more of a strength-endurance workout. These can be alternated during midweek. If I need to bring a long workout indoors, at this point it makes the most sense to do the marathon intervals in multiple hour-long chunks and try to at least get to 17 miles.

Today is a full rest day, and tomorrow I’d like to attempt an early morning outdoor long run. But if anything goes awry or it gets too late to start the workout, I could move it indoor and give the multi-hour intervals a shot then.

Overall, it feels great to be doing some serious run training once again, and Indy feels within reach as of now. Even though the long workouts will tell me how close I am to ready, I’m liking my chances.

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Checking In 9/30/2021

Other than a spur of the moment afternoon work break run, yesterday was a full day off from training. I had to do my laundry last night, and that gave me a convenient excuse to come straight home and not go to the gym. I had a good dinner and slept reasonably well, even if I did wake up early today.

Today I’m gunning for running a good 7-8 miles, which would be the most midweek running miles I’ve logged since the end of June. I’ll run on at least one work break, and the main plan is to do what I did Tuesday, with a full Phillips-style walk/run warmup, then 60 minutes of 1000 meter easy intervals on the treadmill with a run-out to finish a full hour (an interval run until the clock hits 1:00:00).

If this works as intended (which given how Tuesday went I’m thinking it will), I’ll finish the day with roughly 7.5 miles. Tomorrow is another scheduled day off before a long workout Saturday, so even if today is really tough to get through I’ll have all of tomorrow to recover.

If I get through the weekend feeling reasonably good (I expect to feel somewhat weary and work-sore), I’ll likely do at least three of these next week and cross train in-between as well as through any rough patches.

The plan is to stay in town for the next couple weekends (I could be swayed to travel next weekend but the plan is to stay for now). I’ll bring fuel for the long Saturday workout, so if I can log the intended mileage and recover in reasonable time I think I’ll be in a good place training-wise. I’ll be able to log at least two more long weekend workouts (obviously the Vancouver trip will be one), if not another long workout next weekend (which is a swing weekend: I’ll see how I’m feeling and if I need that to be more of a break, I’ll take it).

Vegas mornings have cooled off considerably, and while it’s still a bit warm to go long (high 60’s Fahrenheit in the mornings) the conditions are decent enough to go for it. If the wildfire smoke comes back, the current treadmill format might be suitable for a long workout, or at least part of it on the treadmill with long cross training behind it.

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Checking in 9/29/2021

Yesterday I got back on the treadmill for the first time in two months, and used the run/walk sequences I mentioned yesterday to run about 5.5 miles.

I mentioned yesterday I thought my hamstring issues were directly related to running on the treadmill. My 2019 injury actually happened while running on a treadmill. And my more recent hamstring problem began two days after my longest workout ever on a treadmill (12.2 miles). So I decided I’d avoid the treadmill going forward.

That is, until this week, with the Caldor smoke still causing Vegas problems, and I realized I wasn’t going to get any quality pollution-free running unless I went inside and figured out some way to safely get quality mileage on the treadmill. I could run slow on the treadmill but that’s simply not going to help me get ready at this stage. But I couldn’t just go non-stop or extended periods at marathon pace or faster. I figured if I built walk breaks in with faster running, that would give my legs enough breaks to minimize the risk of creating or restoring any problems.

I did feel some pressure in my hamstrings as the workout progressed, but I always had a walk break coming up and it always went away with some easy walking. I still feel like I’m playing with fire when I use the treadmill, but I’m going to use it this way and see how far I can go with it for now.

Today is a scheduled rest day, and while I considered riding the spin bike at the gym tonight, I also have to do laundry and some other tasks at home tonight so it’s going to be a full rest day. Vegas got some wind that reportedly blew away the smoke overnight, but it’s hard to tell this morning as it’s partly cloudy (actual weather clouds, not the smoke). I don’t smell any smoke, though, so that’s a good sign. I might go take one work break run, but will otherwise walk and rest. I feel generally tired this morning so I probably could use rest.

I had a trip planned for this weekend but will probably nix it and mix up a long workout at the gym Saturday. I might even remember my headphones this time!

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Checking In 9/28/2021

Yesterday the wildfire smoke blowing into Vegas got real hazy, and so I scuttled yesterday’s running plans (though I had already run a couple miles outside on work breaks). I also had left some gear at home so I couldn’t directly go to the gym after work. Once I got there I only did 20 minutes on the rowing machine and strength training to avoid running late. Which is fine, even though that now means three fairly easy days in a row (though I burned over 1000 calories in exercise yesterday).

The smoke is still here, and despite my misgivings about using the treadmill (I suspect both of my hamstring problems are related to its use), I want to try and incorporate some walk-to-run intervals on them tonight. If it works, I have an easy way to get 5-7 miles a day.

The plan is to warm up over 20 minutes with buildup intervals similar to Bill Phillips’ old Body For Life plan: Start at a walk and each minute step up the pace until by the 5th minute I’m running fast… then take it back down to a walk and repeat the sequence until done.

Then, after some dynamic stretching and some water, I’ll get on and run a kilometer at easy-interval pace, which is somewhere a tad faster than what people would consider “marathon pace”. It’s a moderate, steady effort. From trialing this out in past runs this is actually somewhat easy to maintain.

After a kilometer, I slow the machine to a walk to catch breath, then go to an easy jog until about 11.5 minutes in, where I’ll slow to a walk again, check in, then speed back up to mod pace at 12 minutes and repeat the process.

I’d do this 5 times for a total of one hour, then cool down as desired. This hour should net a total of about 5-5.5 miles, while the warmup will be about 1.5-1.7 miles.

Presuming I feel good tonight after work, I intend to give this a shot and see how it goes. If it works, it’ll be a safer use of the treadmill than I had done in the past, as I’ll have built in rest periods as well as faster running. (Obviously if not feeling right for any reason I won’t do it tonight and will just ride the elliptical as I’ve been doing)

I had booked travel for this weekend, but if the workout goes well, I may cancel it and try to do a long workout with a similar format on the treadmill this Saturday. We’ll see.

This is all worth a shot with the smoke continuing to be an issue in Vegas.

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