Is there a dif­fer­ence be­tween do­ing your miles on a tread­mill and run­ning out­side?

Runner's World (UK) - - Coach/ask - WITH JO PAVEY

Tread­mill run­ning can be a use­ful ad­di­tion to your train­ing, es­pe­cially if the roads are icy dur­ing win­ter, but there are a few fac­tors to con­sider. When run­ning on a tread­mill, the belt is mov­ing to­wards you and there’s no wind re­sis­tance, so there’s less ef­fort re­quired to pro­pel your body for­ward. If you did all your train­ing on a tread­mill, you could feel some weak­ness when rac­ing out­doors. How­ever, re­search has in­di­cated that if you use a tread­mill on a one per cent gra­di­ent, it will help to ad­dress this dis­ad­van­tage.

Your run­ning biome­chan­ics may also be af­fected on a tread­mill – you may run with a flat­ter foot and a shorter stride length, and lean for­ward more. These is­sues are not a big con­cern if you’re mostly run­ning out­doors and us­ing a tread­mill for just some of your train­ing. It could even re­duce the stress on cer­tain nig­gles.

Tread­mills are also use­ful for set­ting a con­sis­tent pace and your stride will not be in­ter­rupted. They can, there­fore, be a use­ful train­ing tool, es­pe­cially when you’re do­ing a sus­tained ef­fort. Mon­i­tor­ing your progress is easy – the read­out al­lows you to gauge the pace you’re able to hold for a set pe­riod of time.

How­ever, you need to prac­tise pac­ing dur­ing out­door run­ning too, to de­velop or im­prove your in­stinc­tive pace aware­ness. In­ter­est­ingly, stud­ies have shown that run­ners run slower on a tread­mill if asked to match an out­door pace; this is be­cause a tread­mill can make you feel as though you are run­ning faster than you ac­tu­ally are. Be­cause of these dif­fer­ences be­tween tread­mill run­ning and out­door run­ning, I find it best not to re­late my tread­mill pace to my out­door pace. In­stead I use them as a sep­a­rate means of mea­sur­ing my fit­ness.

You may get hot when run­ning on a tread­mill, es­pe­cially if you’re not in an air-con­di­tioned room. This could help with heat ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion if you’re train­ing for a warm-weather event, but you may find it dif­fi­cult to do a long tread­mill run.

Fi­nally, tread­mill run­ning can be bor­ing, as you won’t have the stim­u­la­tion of scenery or land­marks, but work­ing out to your favourite tunes will help.

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