Experience From - Karl King , David Elsbernd , Scott Weber , Dick Vincent , Jay Hodde , Mike Schupp , Lois Berkowitz , Debbie Reno , Andrea F. , Shelli Johnson , Kevin Setnes , Jan Vandendriessche , Larry Gassan ,
The last month here has featured lousy weather and poor running surfaces, so I've been forced to a new venue for me: the treadmill.
I've used the treadmill to train for walking uphills, and have been delighted with the results ( thanks to Dana Roueche for suggesting this method ). However, I've very seldom *run* much on the treadmill. So, some questions for those of you are treadmill experts:
"How does one's pace on the treadmill relate to pace on asphalt? If I run a given pace on the treadmill, would that be equivalent to faster, slower, or the same on pavement?"
My impression is that the treadmill I use pretty closely mimics the effort of a real run, based on monitoring my heartrate, with the following caveats: a friend with some exposure to the exercise physiology lab in college mentioned that the treadmill is less effort than a road run because it is so smooth. The treadmill can't duplicate all the extra muscular effort required to balance on rough ground, lift the toes fractionally higher to avoid tripping, stepping up on curbs, etc. Secondly, perhaps effort is less because there is no difficulty in running an even-paced workout on the treadmill.
"Do treadmills provide more or less cushioning compared to asphalt? I realize that this can vary from brand to brand, but is there a trend? "
I don't know, but I feel I take less of a beating again because of the smoothness.
"For those who might be contemplating using a treadmill for training, this treadmill novice can report that a 20 mile run on the treadmill wasn't as boring as I thought it would be"
My 13 mile run was boring, but worse, the gym keeps the temperature 'shirtsleeve' for the desk personnel up front. I ended up soaking wet, including an embarassing wet spot down my shorts through the crotch area. But the alternative was a long, cold run in the dark and rain - and the hot tub beconed afterwards! Which brings up another point: I've heard except for upper end treadmills (out of my price range), running will eventually burn up the motor. Most consumer treadmills should be used for walking only. Therefore I'll continue to utilize the gym's heavy-duty treadmills, and let them take the wear and tear!
The treadmill is one of the most effective tools for the serious runner. I emphasize 'serious', because the treadmill exacts a price for its rewards. The dilettante will rapidly become bored and will be quickly blown off the back end of the treadmill with excuses of "too hard; too boring; it works the wrong muscles; my feet hurt; ad infinitum."
Like anything else that increases performance, the treadmill requires work...hard work. It requires tenacity and focus on a meaningful goal that inspires the athlete to perservere through training to achieve the desired reward. It's tough.
The treadmill, when properly calibrated, provides a workout where good technique, breathing patterns and leg cadence can be addressed. If a coach is available for the training sessions on the treadmill, then these most important issues can be addressed in a real-time manner "up close and personal" with the athlete.
Uphill training AND downhill training can all be accomplished with a proper treadmill. Many athletes do not realize that a block of wood under the rear supports of a sturdy treadmill can create a merciless, unrelenting downhill grade. Live in the flatlands? Worried about the quad-trashing downhills of the major 100-milers? Or, the brutal uphills that last forever? The treadmill is your friend.
Train Hard AND Smart.
When it comes to running on treadmills it has been my experience that is hard to relate ones pace in the "hamster wheel " to that on the roads. Every tread mill is different and you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out how you should score your performance. My advice is to use perceived effort as your guide. If you feel like you are putting in 9 minute miles then call a 27 minute run 3 miles. If you are planning to do intervals or whatever, go by time and not distance. Once you have put in some time on the same machine, you will know what the odometer means for that machine and then can use it as a guide. But for now, use tread mill odometers as you would a clock that you are not sure is calibrated to standard time. It will be consistent with regard to itself, but it may not calculate the same as others.
I have found that I am working a whole lot harder to get a 7 minute mile out of a treadmill than I would say on the asphalt or on a track. There is something about struggling to run times (that come easy on the roads) on those things for a so called distance that will dishearten you, so that is why I suggest perceived effort.
Probably the best way to regulate your work effort on an unfamiliar machine would be with a heart monitor. Regardless of the treadmill you are on, your heart rate will tell you what kind of effort you are exerting. Also I would like to comment on a posting that Scott Weber made.
"Many athletes do not realize that a block of wood under the rear supports of a sturdy treadmill can create a merciless, unrelenting downhill grade. Live in the flatlands? Worried about the quad-trashing downhills of
the major 100-milers? Or, the brutal uphills that last forever? The treadmill is your friend."
If you are buying a treadmill or using a friends look into the weight limitations of that machine. Some machines make a heavy duty model for runners over, say, 180 pounds. Well, it you are 165 pounds or so and are
simulating a downhill workout, you may be landing with the force of a runners whose weight exceeds the limits of that machine (mathematicians, help me out here), contributing to the premature demise of the contraption. Often the weight restrictions of a new treadmill are listed in the same place that the wording of a car leasing agreement tells you that you have to put a million dollars down...it is hidden in the fine print. Just something to think about....I would imagine that most gyms are equipped with machines that can hold up to the bigger runners.
Have fun and for heavens sake, take off the hat, mittens, and gortex suit.
"I have found that I am working a whole lot harder to get a 7 minute mile out of a treadmill than I would say on the asphalt or on a track. There is something about struggling to run times (that come easy on the roads) on those things for a so called distance that will dishearten you, so that is why I suggest perceived effort."
As someone who has been running an AWFUL lot of indoor miles on a treadmill, I must agree with "perceived effort". Your standard 10-miler is more difficult at a given pace on the mill than it is outside. More boring, too...
I don't use the incline at all -- who needs to make an already tough workout more difficult because Runner's World tells you to raise the elevation to compensate for lack of wind? They say the mill is softer than the pavement -- I don't believe them for a minute. I've never had shin pain before from running on the road.
The gym here has 8 machines (3 different manufacturers). A 7-minute mile on one machine is like a 5-minute mile on another -- and a 10-minute mile on the third.
Instead of looking at distance, I go by effort and read the newspaper as I run. Since the blizzard, I've been keepin' up with Monicagate and the Euro on a daily basis (no comment as to which is more entertaining).
"Uphill training AND downhill training can all be accomplished with a proper treadmill. Many athletes do not realize that a block of wood under the rear supports of a sturdy treadmill can create a merciless, unrelenting downhill grade. Live in the flatlands? Worried about the quad-trashing downhills of the major 100-milers? Or, the brutal uphills that last forever? The treadmill is your friend."
True! Here in the cornfields, I often use the treadmill to simulate uphills AND dowhill grades. An hour of constant pounding at -5 degree grade really helps me prepare for some of the mountain runs.
Really good treadmills allow you to run a negative grade. Check and see what's available. Or, if you prefer, the block of wood works, too!
Given a choice I would rather run outside as I'm sure most people would. But, winters being what they are in the midwest I have been forced inside a few times also. My longest treadmill run is 30 miles. I find it takes a few times to get your stride length comparable to outside. I think there is a tendency to take shorter steps on the treadmill. I agree one needs to allow 1% up grade for wind. The treadmill I use allows for -3 % downhill also, so it is nice for tayloring the workout to match specific needs in training. I do find there is more cushoning on almost any treadmill I run on, over the pavement. I also find that velocity is harder to "feel" on the treadmill then outside. I pretty much just pay attention to my breathing rate, rather then what the stride and running feel like. Living on the plains where it is impossible to get a good 10+ mile uphill run in, the treadmill is a great way to go.
At last, an area where I have expertise! I seem to be especially vulnerable to upper respiratory infections of various types (I'm sure that living with a smoker is not helpful) and while I have no fear during a race, I do a lot of training indoors on my treadmill - or I am lucky enough to belong to a health club and to have rights at my former employer, both of which have excellent (varying types) of treadmills.
I've done up to 3 1/2 hrs. on a treadmill (won't tell you how far that is). I vary the workouts in a number of ways. 1) Speed workout: Warm up at lower speed, gradually increase every 10 minutes by .3-.5 per hour, holding toward the end of the workout at a speed which is not very comfortable for me. Max 1X a week. 2) Hill workout: Walk up to 5 min. at 3.5; 10 minutes flat, 10 minutes at an incline up to 5%, 10 minutes flat, etc. Every other change, I increase speed. 3) Endurance: I keep the "mill" at a lower speed, "talking" speed, and just run for a LONG time. 4) New trick: At my former work, the treadmills allow programming and are state of the art. I just tried one of their hill workouts - lower than my normal speed, for an hour, and thought I was going to die! Letting the machine control the movement instead of me is a much harder workout. I have a feeling that this may simulate outdoor conditions more.
Entertainment: I used to have the loan of a small TV which I attached to an old VCR with my home treadmill. Due to the noise of the treadmill, I couldn't hear the movie perfectly, but action movies that I had watched before (i.e., knew what was going to happen) like The Terminator were terrific for motivation. Really kicked up the adrenalin. Now I have a boom box on a table to my left and lots of tapes available. Old rock and roll with a beat keeps me motivated, also I sing along, which helps my lung capacity!
While I'm not fast, I am very consistent in most races. Part of this I attribute to the treadmill forcing consistency. As for the difference in effort, a low treadmill speed has a higher perceived effort than the same pace on the roads for me. Regarding the cushioning, each treadmill is different. I'm lucky enough to have access to several types. I generally find that the hardest is easier than asphalt.
I have been back to weights consistently for approximately one month. While doing around 16 marathons a year and working full time may have something to do with it too, my speed was getting slower and slower. (I was also deliberately seeking interesting - tough - marathons). I'm hoping that this will change with Ocala, Florida, next month. Four years ago when I was consistently using weights 2-3 times a week, I had 6 months of marathons (around 7) within Boston qualifying time, and a PR of 3:43.
I cross train to avoid boredom and to spare my back. My new favorite is the elliptical trainer which supposedly simulates anything from walking to climbing and has programmed workouts. I concentrate on time, rather than distance.
Hi all. Sure, the treadmill can be a handy dandy tool for tailoring specific workouts and avoiding impossible icy conditions outside, if ONLY it wasn't invariably accompanied by that most irritating factor - daytime TV. Yikes! You mean I have to watch Oprah while I gut out intervals or hill work? Or, and this is even worse, All My Children? I just can't take it. Save me from this menace! It makes me absolutely bonkers....
Wouldn't it be cool if they had large video screens in front of the treadmills and showed, say, outdoor scenes. You could choose your video - beach run, mountain trails, woodland paths... Now that would almost make treadmill running bearable!
(I'd still rather face zero degrees and 30mph winds than have to watch TV while I run!)
I work at a gym, and most of them would not allow you to put a wood block underneath the back of a machine to simulate downhills, so that option is probably available only to those of you who have your own treadmill.
what's shakin' in cheeseland? :-) I've been using a 'mill now and then when the weather either sucks, I'm literally too lazy to plan out a route to run, or I want PRECISION. (On the lazy thing....the only trails near my apartment are across town and up the mountain, usually I end up on the local rural roads & dirt tire tracks in open spaces. I don't like the former for obvious reasons, and the latter are too wandery to get any sense of *going somewhere*)
Back to the 'mill. The "standard" I've heard about on DRS and other places is to set the incline to 1%, not .5% like you did. I actually generally set it to 2, just to punish myself. :) At 1% most people are convinced their speeds are close to what they feel like outside.
I would have to assume that the surface is comparable to asphalt: it is a little softer on the belt, but the underlying hardware and the smoothness of the surface cancels out the cush. (Concrete is harder than asphalt, in part, because the surface is smoother, which means less gaps to absorb shock)
The mill is great for anything resembling a tempo run, intervals, long hills (if there aren't any near), etc. When I am outside I assume I run ~10mpm, but that could be off. On the mill I *know* I run 10mpm, or 9, or whatever. And as you have found out, it is great for training your legs to walk faster.
Another thing I haven't tried yet, but have heard is great for runner's knee, is walking backwards *facing down* the mill with it set at a steep incline. I don't know who recommended it, but just the visual I get in my mind tells me it would be great for my knees.
The two things I hate about it: no circulation of air (maybe I could convince the apartment managers to locate one of the mills outside), and weird balance. To turn my head to the side quickly while running on the mill I have to grab a handrail or risk toppling over. Also I hate staring at myself running in the full-length wall mirrors.
Other than that.... they have their place.
All this talk about treadmills is interesting given the time of year. I'm particularly interested in how the use of a treadmill can relate to strengthening, so the discussions re. using treadmills for interval (and strength) training are interesting and useful.
There was a recent post suggesting people with runner's knee (or otherwise bad knees) try facing the opposite direction from the normal position on a treadmill. (facing downhill so to speak)
This works wonders on stairclimbers, as well. But not only people who have bad knees should do it; Rather, anyone who wants to increase their quad strengh should try riding a stairclimber backward. It's a terrific strengthening exercise for the quads and right above the knee, which would obviously serve to strengthen the knee and the "casing" surrounding each knee.
I've had ACL reconstructive surgery on both knees (both were basketball injuries, surgeries were in 1986 and 1991) and I have NO pain whatsoever in the knees when running, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, hiking, biking, etc. (I know, knock on wood)
Anyway, I attribute the good condition of my knees in large part to the strengthening of the quads that has occurred due to riding the stairclimber backwards and also to doing some hack squats, and other related weight lifting exercises. In other words, although I have not ran my first ultra yet, I would recommend the aformentioned backward stairclimbing if for no other reason than to strengthen the muscles around the knee, as well as to speed rehab following knee surgery.
Thanks for the interesting treadmill discussions,
I think most of us would agree that there is no substitute for the great outdoor running - especially trails. However the treadmill is a great tool to have around if you are looking for reliable and safe conditions - when the outside just simply does not allow it.
I have a LifeFitness 8500HR, which is a heavier duty model then the cheaper department store models. If you are serious about running, don't buy them unless you will primarily going to use them for power walking.
I like them for speed, interval and hill repeats - when the weather outside is simply too cold or icy. I also have been told by the "treadmill experts" that a 1% incline simulates a flat outdoor running surface (because of wind/air resistance).
I have a chart that I picked up at the local running store that relates "Effort-Based Treadmill Training Speeds" It has a matrix that lists all the speeds from 5 mph to 12 mph (going down the chart) in tenths (5.1, 5.2, 5.3.......11.9, 12.0). It then has columns across that reflect the % incline from 1% to 10%. The resulting cross check is the so-called "Equivalent Pace/Mile".
For example it says that a 7:30 mile at 1% equalls 7:30 outside. At 2% it equals 7:13, at 3% it equals 6:58. At 8% it equals 6:01.
I think it is best used when do heart rate training. My machine supplies a heart monitor with it, which allows for some interesting running tests.
An aside, my treadmill looks out over the Kettle Moraine, as I have it next to a window in my workout room. None of that TV stuff allowed in my gym - maybe music. Also - recently added a LifeFitness 9500HR Cross Trainer (Eliptical trainer, EFX like machine). It is mimics a running like motion, but with NO IMPACT. We primarily got it for my wife Kris who is recovering from double knee surgery in October. It is a great rehab machine, or simply cross training - as it goes frontwards or backwards and works the upper body. Mind you - they don't come cheap, but if you invest in one, they can be a great addition to your "training tool kit".
Now, I can be running those fast interval mile sessions, with her rehabing right next to me and my dogs napping a few feet away.
Karl King wrote:
"However, I've very seldom *run* much on the treadmill. So, some questions for those of you are treadmill experts:"
Karl,I use to train at least once a week on the treadmill, mostly two or three times. I do uphill training but mostly long downhill sessions (20km, 18-19km/h, -4>-5%).
"How does one's pace on the treadmill relate to pace on asphalt? If I run a given pace on the treadmill, would that be equivalent to faster, slower, or the same on pavement? ( note: I set the grade to 0.5% to account for lower air resistance )."
Normally I would say that you don't use to set the grade to 0.5%. I agree, there is no air resistance on the treadmill but that isn't always a benefit ! It means also that your body warms up a lot faster, it would not be the
first time that my head is tomato-red when I finished a hard treadmill session !
"Do treadmills provide more or less cushioning compared to asphalt? I realize that this can vary from brand to brand, but is there a trend?"
That really depends of the treadmill himself. You may compare the one company to the other but even the treadmills of the same company may differ a lot ! I use to run on Technogym treadmils (I can choose of 4) but I know which treadmill runs smoother than the other!
"For those who might be contemplating using a treadmill for training, this treadmill novice can report that a 20 mile run on the treadmill wasn't as boring as I thought it would be, but it wasn't as much fun as a trail. It was nice to have the "aid station" instantly available."
But it is also dangerous (?) to stop too easily when you don't feel 100%, you never have to run the way back!
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