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Running on a treadmill

13 October, 2013 0 comments

Running on a treadmill


Can you become a good runner on a treadmill?

Not everybody is a big fan of the outdoors once the weather gets dark and wet outside. No wind, no mud, no need to carry everything you need around your waist, consistent conditions – no wonder running on a treadmill can be an appealing option!

However – and this probably comes as no surprise – running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside. No matter if your aim is to escape the winter weather or to complement your training plan with specific treadmill workouts, we want you to be able to improve your running performance. So, here are some things you should know about treadmills.

Reasons why the treadmill can make you a better runner

  1. Plenty of information – Running on a treadmill can give you a lot of information about your fitness level. You are able to see exactly how your body reacts to changes of speed, distance and incline. This information can be used in creating and improving your training plan.
  2. Keeping pace – On a treadmill, you can set a certain pace and not worry that you will start to run slower than that without noticing – you’ll have to press a button for that! Therefore it is a good tool to make sure your pace is constant. Also great for monitoring how you do your interval training!
  3. Creating hills – There might not be hills around where you live, but on a treadmill you can create the terrain that you want to train for. This can become especially useful if you are preparing for a certain race – with some treadmills you can even recreate the whole race track.
  4. Easier for joints – If you have problems with your joints or are recovering from an injury, running on a treadmill can be a way to get back on track with your running, since its surface is kinder for your joints.

Reasons why you are better off outside

  1. Treadmills use your body differently – The way you run on a treadmill is not how running works in real life, and running outdoors will always be more challenging for your body. For example, you run on one spot on a treadmill, which means you don’t have to deal with wind resistance at all.
  2. Surface variety – While the surface of treadmills is smooth and flat, there are always variations to the surface when outdoors. Running outdoors will train your muscles to deal with these variations, and help with your coordination and balance.
  3. Learning to pace – Since on a treadmill you don’t have to focus your attention to keeping the pace, you won’t be able to learn how to do it effectively either. Therefore outdoor pace training becomes important if you want to learn pacing for a specific race.


  1. Race preparation – If preparing for a race, you will want to recreate some race conditions during the training period to become comfortable with them – for example carrying your water and snacks with you and learning how to consume them while on the go.

What can you do to improve your treadmill workouts?

  1. Increase the incline by 1 degree – Research shows that by slightly increasing the incline of your treadmill you can compensate for the lack of wind resistance and the moving of the surface. Therefore, if you want to make your effort as similar as possible to an outdoor situation, don’t forget to do this.
  2. Ignore the numbers for a while – It is easy to forget to really monitor yourself when there is a constant flow of information available. Therefore, try to get more in tune with how running feels every now and then by not focusing on the screen. You can cover it with a towel if you like!
  3. Mix it up – If you want to achieve better results, your workouts should be varied. This is just as true when running indoors, so make sure to create workouts that challenge you differently when on the treadmill.
  4. Don’t forget proper form – Putting too much focus on staying on the treadmill and reading its display can have a bad influence on your running form. Therefore, make sure you take time on the treadmill to think about proper form and movements.
  5. Never reach for the handrails – There are no handrails outdoors, and holding on to them can cause you to get used to improper form, which in itself can become a reason for pain and injuries. Therefore, imagine they aren’t even there!
  6. Do the occasional outdoor run – Even if you spend a lot of time on the treadmill, you should occasionally remind your body what it means to run outside, if you want to make improvements in the outdoors.

Treadmills can have a place in your workout schedule if you know how to use them well. Do you have experience with training on a treadmill? What do you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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