Why the treadmill should not be dreaded

Hi, my name is Amanda, and I have been training on a treadmill lately……..

Before I share with you my vapid “First world” problems with running outside, please check out this amazing runner’s blog post titled “Living against the Dying Season”. This amazing human being discusses running outside while healing after surgery to address cancer. http://runvegan.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/1616/. Whenever I need perspective, I like to visit Scott’s page Runvegan.

In 22 years of running, I have avoided the treadmill-mostly. I spent my middle and high school years living in Eugene, Oregon where everyone ran outside. In my early years as a pre-teen and high school student,  I found deep solace in running around my little neighborhood, and there was really no access to a treadmill. There was a bout of heavy treadmill use in college (others were drinking heavily, that’s fine. I was running heavily.) In college, I could access the athletic center after volleyball practices and during the off season. I would prop my biology note cards and my portable CD player up on the ledge and pray that the CD player didn’t fall and fly across the room. And I would go slightly batty waiting to finish my mundane 5 miles and flashcards of various organisms.

As a proper adult, I have avoided the treadmill officially for 9 years, until this winter. The dark mornings and evenings and changes in family schedule began to wedge themselves between running and I. So, my husband recommended that I get a gym membership, and get on treadmill. Maybe lift some weights and go to more yoga classes after my son goes to bed while I’m at it. And so I have. And, so I have become a faster runner.

A 2008 study by Riley and his colleagues whom have contributed so much to our understanding of gait mechanics, sought to analyze the differences in our running form on street runs versus treadmill runs (1). They found that overall, form changes on the treadmill are negligible in comparison to street running. On street runs, we tend to dodge traffic, negotiate terrain changes, and hop over curbs. Though we change form readily, we tend to have a fairly consistent “normal” pattern that we fall back onto during straight-aways.

Furthermore, no measurable differences have been noted in sub-maximal running on a treadmill versus sub-maximal running on a track in terms of energy expenditure, if pace is maintained consistently (2).

There are various speculations on using a slight incline on the treadmill to replicate outdoor running. 1% has been recommended from Runner’s World. If you search this theory you will find some heated debates, curse words, accusations, and perhaps recommendations for 2% instead. The general consensus seems to be that 1% incline most closes replicates the friction that we encounter when propelling ourselves on concrete vs. a moving tread.

For me, the most eye opening component of the treadmill since beginning treadmill training, is the use of speed. I have utilized a few different training plans utilizing speed work, and have found that I am gaining incredible speed by pushing myself using that tiny little up arrow.

Here are 4 Great Treadmill Workouts to mix things up a bit on when runnign indoors: http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/four-great-treadmill-workouts

Beyond the typical motor powered treadmill, I have come to love the self-powered treadmill. A friend recently introduced me to this awesome machinery and I’m grateful. The impact on my joints feels less on this device than a normal treadmill-though this is highly anecdotal. I have no empirical evidence that this is true. It feels better on my joints, and seems to be a tougher workout physiologically.

So there you have it. I never though I’d see the day that I regularly trained on a treadmill, but we shall  never say never. I certainly do not discount the psychological benefits of running outside-these are to vast. I still loving running up and around my mountains, trails, and neighborhoods. But the treadmill is a necessary device to my lifestyle right now, and I embrace it. Hopefully my spring race times will reflect some hard work.

Any readers training on a treadmill right now?

What training plans are you using?  Any Pandora stations I should try out?

Have you tried the self-powered treadmill?

Take care, and make your day great!


1. A kinematics and kinetic comparison of overground and treadmill running. Riley PO, Dicharry J, Franz J, Della Croce U, Wilder RP, Kerrigan DC. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Jun;40(6):1093-100. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181677530.

2. McArdle, W, Katch, F, Katch V. Essentials of Exercise Physiology 3rd Ed. 2006. Lippicott Williams &Wilkins.


About runningyourbody

I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Certified Pilates instructor, and runner with celiac disease. I am passionate about educating people on running, pilates, and women’s health topics. I am trained in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction, as well as pre and post partum impairments. In my free time I can be found anywhere outside. I enjoy training for races with friends, cooking gluten free meals, and traveling with my husband. My goal is to share information with you in a lighthearted and enjoyable forum. I am always contributing fun and interesting posts on my blog. Feel free to check it out @ https://runningyourbody.wordpress.com/
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One Response to Why the treadmill should not be dreaded

  1. Pingback: More Treadmills! | RunningYourBody

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