Before you jump on the treadmill, keep the following in mind:
Walking is fine and anything slower than 5 mph is race walking as defined by the American College of Sports Medicine. If you have to jog when the treadmill is at 4.5, slow down and power walk.
Incline should be at 1 percent unless you are training for downhill. Studies show that this best replicates outdoor conditions on a flat road. You don’t have a belt running under you outside. You also have wind resistance and micro-changes in terrain – even on a flat track.
Stride length changes: Your stride length is likely different – either longer or shorter. Your reaction is very individual, but studies show that experienced runners tend to have longer strides on the treadmill compared to outdoors while newbies had shorter strides on the treadmill when compared to outdoors. Maybe it is because new runners are tentative on the treadmill and more afraid of falling off, but it doesn’t explain the longer strides in more experienced folk. Shorter, compact strides are more desirable.
Treadmills impair your efficiency. The leg you push off of spends more time on the ground when you are the treadmill. This probably happens unconsciously because you are seeking to keep your balance, but make an effort to pick your feet up quickly.
You may call it the dreadmill – but that’s part of what makes it valuable to run training. If you can play the mental game on the treadmill, just think of your potential to persevere outside!
The treadmill can be a great training tool and an awesome instrument to help you get in shape, but it is no substitute for outdoor runs. Use the treadmill for speed or hill training – if you live in flat place – but mix it up with outdoor workouts as well. You may find that if you run on the treadmill too often, when you do head outdoors you experience greater soreness and potential for injury.