How Reading a Treadmill FAQ at Runner’s World Blew My Mind

After my week off sick, I’m starting to go a little stir-crazy. Not only have I been unable to work and leave my house, I’ve been unable to run on my shiny, new treadmill because whatever the heck I’ve contracted made me so weak I can’t walk to the kitchen reliably–but hey, the tests for flu and mono came back negative, at least!

My cabin fever has made me kind of antsy to run, so I started flipping around on Flipboard and came across a great article at Runner’s World that breaks down some misinformation most people have about treadmills, especially on how easy/hard they are to run on versus being outside.

Q: Is treadmill running easier than running at the same speed outdoors?

Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: Treadmill running may feel more taxing, but physiologically it’s actually a bit easier than running outdoors. In his book Treadmill Training for Runners, Rick Morris explains, “Running on the treadmill, you don’t have to overcome the effects of wind resistance and you also have that assistance of a moving belt doing part of the work for you.” To more closely simulate road running, set your treadmill’s incline at one or two percent.

The emphasis there at the end is mine, by the way. I highlighted it so you can experience the same revelation I did. Being fairly new to the running life, I haven’t toyed around much with treadmill inclines. When training for my 5K last year, I just focused on distance and pace, and relied on the trails in the park to get me used to running on uneven surfaces.

It worked, kind of.

But using the incline to match my outdoor gait never even crossed my mind. Now, I’m looking forward to getting better for two reasons: obviously feeling better, but also because I can’t wait try out this trick and see how it works.

Do you folks have any nifty tricks you picked up along the way that should be obvious, but aren’t?

B.J. Keeton

B.J. Keeton

B.J. is a geek, gamer, podcaster, and livestreamer. He has been the co-host of the Geek to Geek podcast since 2016, and he helped start the Geek to Geek Media Network. His biggest pet peeve is when someone spells Wookiee with only one E. One time, he told his friends he liked vegetables maybe more than he did Star Wars, and they made him put a dollar in the jar. That should tell you everything you need to know about him. Find him on Twitter as @professorbeej or on Discord as @professorbeej#1337.

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    • B.J. Keeton

      Somehow, I did miss that one. Either the email didn’t come through. Or I’m stupid. I’m going with the latter.

      I am going to try the incline today and see how it works for me. Last night was just a trial.

      What do you suggest as a starter?

      • rowan

        I’m just giving you a hard time. 😉

        Start with 1-2% just like the FAQ suggests, and see how you feel. Obviously the higher the incline, the more effort it is. Most treadmills go up 6-10%, but then you’re essentially hill climbing (which has its benefits). I personally avoided treadmills when I was running regularly, preferring bikes and elliptical riders. I don’t know what your access/schedule is like your college; but if I were you, I’d be all about the track there. At BYU, we had a big indoor track available to students, faculty, and staff, plus a few outdoor tracks during more clement weather.


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