Benefits of Running on a Treadmill

As winter is quickly closing in and Jack Frost is nipping on the heels of your Asics, it hard to keep making progress. For some people, the treadmill is a welcome place to put down some miles, and for others it’s more of a mind numbing torture device. Regardless of which camp you’re in, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually find yourself running on one.

Here are some great benefits and tips for when you do.

Can’t Hide The Stride

Winter running can be dicey, especially if you live in a place like I do where snow and ice can be a factor. Often safely navigating the roads can be a major concern as you try your best not to bite it. If you’ve ever ran on a skating rink, you’ve felt a similar sensation to what is going on in your running stride in the winter. You can’t help but shuffle to protect yourself from falling, which ultimately alters your biomechanics. Do this for extended periods of time and the risk of muscle strains and injury becomes an issue as you force your muscles to work harder/differently when running.

The benefit of the treadmill in this regard is that injury from a slip and fall or simply taxing your legs differently is removed. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t fall off a me I’ve come close, but its definitely a much safer option.

Calling All Control Freaks

One big bonus of treadmill running is the fact that you can lock in a very specific pace by using the speed setting. Depending on the specific workout objectives, it's easy to get a very precise training benefit. Unless you step off on to the sides, the treadmill will not allow you to slow down or run faster than intended, which is key for maximizing the effectiveness of your run.

For hill work, the treadmill is a great tool to use as it helps you to get the exact incline you're looking for. If you live somewhere like I do with relatively flat terrain, it's a challenge to find hills steep or long enough during a run. If you're training for a specific race where you know that it has a hilly profile, you can simulate the same conditions very closely on a treadmill. If nothing else, getting some quality hill work done by cranking up the incline setting is always a good way to build your aerobic fitness.

Making the Cadence Connection

One other way I like to use the treadmill is to make the connection to my stride and how it relates to cadence. (We talked about Cadence last time and you can find that Blog post

HERE). Next time you run on a treadmill try moving your feet faster and slower while at the same speed setting. What you will notice is that you can keep up with your feet turning over quickly or slowly. What you'll notice however is that when you're feet are moving slower you will likely be over striding, which as mentioned before is something you're wanting to avoid. Shorter faster turnover with a cadence of 175 - 180 steps per minute is a good goal to achieve over time. By using the treadmill in conjunction with a focus on improving your cadence, you will learn very quickly how your stride impacts it.

Tips To Get The Most Benefits

Getting the most out of a Treadmill is not that difficult, but there are a few tips to share that will ensure you do:

- To simulate running on the road set your incline between 1 to 3 degrees, which will closely mimic the resistance you'd experience outside.

- Use a Pace conversion chart to set the speed on your treadmill. This will ensure you're running at the proper pace for the run type you're completing.

- Stay hydrated. When you run indoors, there is less air movement to keep you cool, so heating up quickly is often the case. Even with the fans some treadmills have, you will likely sweat much more than normal, so bring some water/electrolytes with you.

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