Tips for Treadmill Running (and some reasons to run outdoors)
In podcast episode #10, we talk about some tips for having a good experience on a treadmill. Treadmill running definitely has its place, and doing it safely and effectively is important. We started the conversation by discussing some reasons why running outside whenever possible is a good idea. Below is a summary of the conversation.
4 Reasons to run outside whenever possible
Pacing yourself is a challenge to learn. The problem with running on a treadmill is that it does all the work. You set the pace and it takes you at that speed. Nothing to think about, you can’t mess it up. You may find that after prolonged periods of training on a treadmill only (like total treadmill running during the off season), pacing yourself becomes a big challenge once your back on the pavement.
Simulate your race environment
When you race, you’re usually outside in all kinds of conditions. If you always train in doors, you may be really surprised when race day comes. If you can stay outdoors, you allow for more realistic training. This is the principle of training called specificity.
Pay attention to what you’re doing
When on a treadmill, it is really tempting to turn on the TV, listen to music, etc. The problem with this is you stop paying attention to what you’re doing. Try and put yourself in situations that allow you to concentrate on your running.
Keep your form
Your form has to be a bit different when you run on a treadmill. A good running form involves a forward lean to utilize gravity and elasticity in propelling you forward. You really can’t do that the same way with a treadmill, and have to run rather upright. Too much treadmill running can compromise your running form.
However, we all know that it isn’t always possible or smart to run outside. If you find it necessary to run indoors, consider the following tips for making it a good experience.
7 tips for running on a treadmill
There is usually a pretty small swath of area to run on with a treadmill. You don’t have a lot of room for error. Try to avoid looking down, up, to the side, or any direction that can throw your balance off. Determine what works for you, and stick to it to avoid injury.
Use the incline function
When you use a treadmill, your pace will feel slightly easier than the same pace on the road. You can offset the difference by increasing the incline 1-2%, and make it feel closer to outside running.
You can also increase your challenge by increasing the incline. This is usually a better option than increasing speed. Just don’t overdo it. Too much incline can put undue stress on your lower leg muscles, ligaments, and tendons, causing potential for injury.
Maintain your stride and cadence
Because the treadmill tends to pull you along, it’s easy to fall into the trap of changing your stride and cadence. You may tend to lengthen your stride or decrease your cadence. It feels easy on a treadmill, but will cause a loss in efficiency when running back on the road. Try to keep it consistent between the two.
Don’t hold the sidebars
Try to avoid grabbing the sidebars, or bar in front of you. Many treadmills have heart rate pads on them and although you could check your pulse once in a while, don’t hang on. Doing that can mess up your form or even cause you to trip on the belt, causing injury.
Music and other entertainment?
A lot of people take the opportunity to listen to music or watch TV while on the treadmill. That’s certainly understandable. If you do this, choose something inspiring, or something that supports your cause (like music that has a beat around 88-90 to help keep your cadence).
Another option is to practice your mental game during these sessions. This is a good time to practice visualization (see article here) and other aspects of your mental game.
Don’t forget to Hydrate
Just like the title says. If you are in a cool basement with a fan, you may forget you are sweating. Don’t forget that you are still losing fluids, and you need to make sure you are replacing that fluid.
I’ve made some stupid moves running on a treadmill. Be sure to switch it off if you need to get off or back on. Make sure to pay attention to what you are doing, and don’t get too distracted. Make sure you don’t get an injury!
USAT Level 1 coach