Watch Out! Treadmill Training Myths

Winter is coming.  For most of us that means cold weather, snow, ice and maybe some serious wind.  More important than the miserable outdoor conditions is that our spring marathon is still on the calendar.  We have to train, no matter what’s going on out there and that means hitting treadmill trainingthe treadmill.  Love it or hate it, the treadmill sometimes becomes a necessary evil.  Get the most out of your treadmill sessions this winter by ignoring the treadmill training myths.

Myth #1:  It has to be set at an incline to mirror running outside.  Not so fast!
Outside you have to push through the air and maybe a headwind.  On a stationary indoor treadmill, that resistance isn’t there.  That is what makes treadmill training runs slightly easier.  To make up for this lack of air resistance you can increase your speed.  And that might not even matter.  This study shows that incline only matters at paces of 7:09/mile or faster, leaving most of us OK to run flat.

Myth #2: Your running motion is different on a moving belt.  According to this study, and others, it’s actually not.  You might feel different because of the treadmill’s cushioning but your muscles and joints move the same way during treadmill training as they would over pavement, trail or track.  The important things to remember when you’re stuck on the treadmill are to keep your cadence high and form tight.

In the same vein is Myth #3: You take more (or fewer) steps on the treadmill per mile.  As Myth #2 proved, your motion on the treadmill is virtually identical to how you move over a stationary surface (road, track, field).  This also means your step rate (cadence) should be the same.  Winter treadmill training runs can be a great time to figure out how many steps you take per minute at a given pace.  Working on taking shorter steps at a faster rate during treadmill training is great for when you get back out on the road.

Myth #4:  Holding on doesn’t affect your workout.  Yes, it does.  Holding on or pushing yourself up with your arms does not decrease the stress on your lower half.  It completely changes your gait for the worse.  Twisting your spine and over rotating your hips are asking for injuries.  Slowing down and letting go on your next treadmill training run might just save your spring race season.

Myth #5:  The treadmill tells the truth.  They try but often fail.  The readouts for calories burned, speed, heart rate and distance can all be wrong.  Unless the machine is calibrated to your body on a regular basis it’s going to be off.  In the ballpark?  Probably.  Your best bet is to use a heart rate monitor that straps to your chest or wrist to determine exertion levels and simply run (with no incline) for your desired amount of time.

Coach Meredith

3 thoughts on “Watch Out! Treadmill Training Myths

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