Running on the treadmill is a great alternative to outdoor running. From a distance, running on a treadmill looks super easy; you just hop on and start running, right? Not so fast! Excuse the pun. If you do so without understanding the parameters of the treadmill and how they affect your running, you might not get the most from the exercise.
- Start Slow
Just as with any other exercise routine, you need to start with a warm-up. With a treadmill it is tempting to just set the speed and hit the speed right away. A warm-up increases the body temperature, making it easier for muscles to contract and relax. Such flexible muscles prepare the body for faster movement and reduce the chances of an injury. Start with minimum speed and walk/jog for 5-10 minutes.
- Check the Incline
If you’re just starting out, or getting back to running after a long break, you can leave the treadmill at zero incline as you build your form. Then set the incline to 1-2%. This is the best incline for sustained indoor running since there’s no wind resistance. Vary the incline without exceeding 7%. Combine steep with flat running. Changing the incline gives you variation just as you’d experience when running outside.
Maintain an upright posture without leaning forward. It’s tempting to keep looking down to see how much time or distance you’ve covered. To avoid this you can visualize a running route that you’re familiar with. Keep your head up and arms swinging. Avoid holding onto the handrail; it is only supposed to assist you when getting on and off the treadmill, and in the rare case of an injury while running.
Aim for short, quick steps as opposed to long strides. Aim to strike the surface mid-foot. A long stride makes you strike heel-first, which can leave you with pain around the ankles. Work on increasing your steps per minute. Elite runners can go as high as 180. You might be far from that, but you can steadily work your way up, especially if you’re practicing for racing purposes.
You may be surprised that you actually sweat more on the treadmill compared to the outdoors where the wind keeps you cool. Keep your water bottle close. It is actually easier to hydrate on the treadmill as you don’t have to bear the weight of carrying the water bottle as you run.
- Cool Down
At the end of your run, cool down before you come off the treadmill. Don’t come from a high speed to, well, nothing. Reduce the speed gradually and spend the last 5 minutes jogging or walking. This will not only prevent dizziness, but also keep you from injury associated with coming off a moving treadmill.
There you have it. Follow these tips and you can get the best from your treadmill running. Whether you choose to run in the gym or in your house, your time on the treadmill can easily match running outdoors and give you just as much benefits.