08 May Why should I run on a treadmill?
By Aaron Dorksen – 3G Cardio Fitness Editor
Many hard-core distance runners say they try to avoid running on a treadmill at any cost. They prefer being out in the elements, experiencing the ups and downs of roads and trails.
However, there are some really good reasons to run regularly on a treadmill, or mix in treadmill runs with going outdoors – even if the weather is nice outside. Even a large number of very talented runners like to put in regular work on a treadmill.
Here are seven reasons why it’s beneficial to run on a treadmill:
The right track
Running on a good treadmill provides a smooth, cushioned surface to churn out your miles on.
An uneven surface outside can lead to injuries, or aggravate minor issues a runner is already having. Of course, someone is also much more likely to hit an uneven spot when running outside, like tripping on a curb, slipping when it’s cold or rainy, or twisting their ankle in a pothole.
Treadmills are really nice for athletes who are coming back from an injury to find their stride again because of the guaranteed smooth, safe surface.
Expanding on the idea of a more comfortable running surface, a treadmill is just flat out safer in general than running outside.
When you’re running outside there are a multitude of potential hazards to be aware of: Inattentive drivers who are texting or looking at their radio, dogs that aren’t on leashes and sudden weather changes, like rain storms, are all issues that will be avoided while running in the comfort of your own home.
Build your own workout
With the technology available on treadmills nowadays, there’s really nothing you can’t do when it comes to tracking the data of a treadmill run and controlling the workout.
You can set up custom workouts or use pre-programmed courses. Treadmills are programmable, so keep things interesting by adjusting the speed, incline and-or decline. Most treadmills come with pre-set workouts and can also be synched up with iPad or smart phone apps.
“Because you can adjust the incline on treadmills, you can simulate the exact ups and downs of the race you’re training for. Some treadmills even allow you to pre-load real course profiles and will automatically adjust the incline to follow the course. One of my clients is training for the Boston Marathon, and I had him elevate the back of his treadmill to simulate the demands of the downhill course.”
You might want to program a treadmill workout that’s similar to a road or trail in your area. When you get to the big incline, visualize being outside running the hill.
Follow your workout on the treadmill display screen. Lots of people like to monitor the distance they’ve traveled, calories burned, speed and heart rate, which are all readouts available on most treadmills.
Increase the incline up to 2 or higher to simulate outside running.
I’m so busy that I don’t get to watch a lot of TV, so I enjoy catching up with the news or ESPN on the TV above my treadmill while getting a good run in.
Others might want to watch a movie, or crank some tunes out to enhance their run.
Check your form
Most of us have no idea what we look like while running, but if there’s a mirror near your treadmill it’s a good way to check your form. In fact, just running on a treadmill can improve your form even if you’re not looking at yourself in a mirror.
About 20 years ago, researchers found runners have reduced stride lengths and higher stride frequencies on a treadmill as compared with ground running due to the feeling of instability while running on a treadmill. All of these can help improve your form and reduce impact forces on the body, Runners World reported.
When running on a treadmill, make sure to stay in the middle of the machine. That’s where the most cushioning is. Some people like to run right near the front of the treadmill, for reasons like being closer to the electronics panel or grabbing onto the handles, but the treadmill is engineered for people to stay in the middle.
Good treadmills cost a decent amount of money up front, but they are a true investment that will pay off many times over in benefits over the long run.
3G Cardio fitness editor Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. Consult a doctor before making any significant changes in your exercise routine or diet. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@3Gcardio.com