Runners often hear that the treadmill isn’t the same as running outside, as you don’t have to brave the elements. This may be true, but don’t be too quick to dismiss the many benefits of using one. Here are seven good reasons to hop on the treadmill…
1. Less stress on the joints
Treadmills are more forgiving than the road because they offer some shock absorption and are less likely to cause impact-related injuries. This will help you to run as efficiently as possible and can be a great help if you are coming back from an injury.
2. Good for mental endurance
Since running on the treadmill is usually a solitary activity, it helps to build self-motivation and commitment. Running and maintaining your pace on the treadmill builds a mental toughness that can help you in your races and outside training runs.
3. Beating the weather
Sometimes, when the wind is howling or the snow or rain is plummeting down, you’d rather be anywhere than outside. This is when a treadmill comes in handy: it takes the weather out of the equation. In harsh winter weather, you can climb onto your treadmill, ramp up the speed and elevation, and happily complete a session without getting a cold.
4. Good for interval training
‘I have always loved treadmill running for interval training and have found it really helpful to bring me into really good racing form,’; says ultra-runner Julia Chi Taylor. ‘I can translate a session of 10 x 3 mins with 1 to 2 minutes jog recovery into what pace I can expect to run a 5K or 10K. I have used treadmill training for intervals as far back as the 1980s!’
5. Handy for keeping a set pace
To get the most out of your interval training, you need to be doing the reps at a precise speed and distance (this is why many people use a running track). However, it can be hard for most runners to accurately judge pace while training on a track and this becomes even more difficult when training on the open road (unless you’ve got a handy GPS watch). Using a treadmill, you’ll know exactly how far and fast you’re going at any given time.
6. Ideal for easy runs
Recovery is an important part of training and, yet, many runners just don’t like running slowly. Easy runs are necessary to allow your muscles to recover from hard, intense or long running sessions, but it can be very difficult to run at a pace easy enough to allow for muscle recovery when you run outside. It can feel very slow and, therefore, many runners have a tendency to perform their easy runs at too fast a pace. The treadmill solves this problem. Once you determine your easy pace, it is a simple matter of setting the treadmill at that pace and cracking on.
7. Perfect for hill training
Some people are blessed with a multitude of hills in their local environment; for others, finding a hill close to home can be a challenge. Most treadmills will elevate the running belt from one to 12 per cent. You may prefer to use the treadmill for most of your hill sessions.
Good treadmill sessions to try today…
Fartlek – an unstructured session where you run at random different speeds. Ideal for indoor workouts to break up the monotony and challenge your fitness.
Tempo/threshold runs – where you warm up for five minutes and then run at a speed that is bordering on the edge of discomfort for set blocks of time, then have recovery intervals in between where you jog or run at an easier pace. During the tougher blocks, you’d only be able to speak a few words.
Hill sessions – many treadmills offer an incline function, enabling you to create the effects of running uphill. Some short, sharp sessions will get you fit.
Interval sessions – ideal for getting fitter and easily controlled on a treadmill. Choose your speed and then run to a set time or distance at a faster speed, then take it down to your normal speed and recover, then repeat. You might do two minutes hard, two minutes easier and so forth.
Long slow distance – this is a steady pace that builds stamina and endurance. Put on some music or listen to a podcast while you run.