Treadmill training is good when done properly

13. November 2018

Training on a treadmill is not everyone's cup of tea, however, due to the cold season and potentially difficult conditions (snow, ice, darkness) it may be appropriate to switch to indoor training from time to time. 

On the treadmill, you can do all your training in much the same way as you do outdoors - from a relaxed endurance run to a long run to hard interval training. Thanks to the different speed settings, especially tempo runs or even intervals can be done easily and in a well-controlled manner. On the treadmill the following points need to be observed:

  • Treadmill speed: A treadmill should have a motor that allows a speed of at least 20 km/h. The speed displays on weaker treadmills are usually inaccurate and ill-suited to interval training.
  • Lower energy expenditure: When «running on the spot» you need less energy than when «running forward» at the same speed outside. The reason for this is that the leg on the treadmill is pulled backwards by the rolling belt. Outdoors, on the other hand, you use the power of your muscles to lift your body over the standing leg. The treadmill thus requires less effort than when running at the same tempo outside.
  • Lack of air resistance: There is a lack of air resistance on the treadmill. Thus, the following also applies: running on the treadmill requires less energy than running at the same tempo outside. When running on the treadmill at 8 km/h, you require around 5 percent less energy and at 14 km/h, around even 10 percent less. The higher the speed, the more energy you save compared with the same tempo outside.
  • Incline: You normally set the treadmill at a 1 percent incline, and at speeds of 15 km/h or more, at a 2 percent incline. You thereby use about the same amount of energy as when running outside. Or you can dispense with the incline and run somewhat faster in return. It is best to check your heart rate to see how much faster you need to run. Find out where your average heart rate lies when running at different tempos outside and then run within the same heart rate zones when training on the treadmill.
  • Heart rate training: Comparing your heart rate when training brings two further benefits: firstly, the lack of cooling on the treadmill (although the air resistance outside slows you down, it also cools you) is not included in the calculation. And secondly, it can be irrelevant what the display says. Many treadmills are poorly calibrated and can therefore mislead and provide false information
  • Fluid intake: Due to the lack of air resistance, you sweat more on the treadmill than when outside and accordingly need plenty of fluids. Keep a water bottle and towel with you when doing treadmill training. 
  • Concentration: Running on the treadmill requires more concentration and willpower because you run through a tempo from A to Z and need to focus on your step. Those who are unfocused or don’t constantly keep up with the tempo will fly off the back in the worst-case scenario.
  • Group motivation: Those who find it difficult to get enthusiastic about doing treadmill training alone should try group training. Group training meanwhile offers personalised support as with indoor cycling lessons and the tempo can be individually adjusted to your level of performance. A further benefit: training in a group is motivating and the time just flies by.