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Think Outside The Mill: How To Make The Most Of Treadmill Running

  • By Caitlin Chock
  • Published Jan. 27, 2014
  • Updated Jan. 27, 2014 at 7:15 AM UTC

Equating Your Indoor Workouts To Those Outside

So how can you tailor the workouts done on the treadmill to best simulate the conditions you’ll inevitably face back outdoors? Obviously you’d be hard pressed to find any races done on a treadmill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t master the transition; the key is being aware of the differences and adjusting as such. “[Treadmills] allow you to get everything you want whenever you want it…you just have to remember to change the variables,” states Wardian. “I am trying to do hills a few times a week. That is a weakness, or has been, so I want to fix that…for me that means hours of running up vertical inclines, sometimes fast sometimes just a long grind, but always pushing to get better.”

If you have a weakness, work on it–a sound philosophy regardless of the training environment. Still, Wardian cautions, “Something I try and keep in mind is that the treadmill is really consistent and even but outside things are constantly changing and each change takes energy and thought, so I remind myself not to zone out while outside.”

Another factor to keep in mind is that because the belt is constantly running, it will be dragging your legs under and behind you during your stride cycle. By doing this, your hamstring muscles (which would typically be doing this work when outside) will be working less and you will be relying more heavily on your quads. Be mindful of weakened hamstrings if you’ve spent a lot of time on the treadmill when you move back outdoors; though, strength work in the gym can counteract this.

Workout Of The Week: 2-Speed Treadmill Threshold Run

Grade tends to be one of the more obvious questions that comes up with treadmill running. Being that there isn’t any wind resistance indoors, a widely accepted rule is to set the incline to 1.5% and that will translate to an equal level pace effort of running outside. “Some athletes put it at one to two percent…we also set up fans,” states Hudson, “ but some athletes use no grade and like to run a little faster.” Getting a faster turnover can help neuromuscular training in addition to a bit of a mental uplift. Much like downhill running, by getting your legs used to a more rapid stride cycle, you are laying the groundwork for their ability to run the pace themselves unaided.

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