The most beautiful thing about running is the movement under the open sky. You can perceive the surroundings with all your senses: on a sunny day, you can hear the birds’ chirping, the fresh air caresses your skin, and in the forest, it smells of nature
Unfortunately, this is not always possible. A sunny day becomes torture for many allergy sufferers. In winter, early darkness often thwarts training planning, and running with a headlamp is not for everyone. Also, there are frigid winter days or hot, humid summer days when sensitive people prefer not to run. And although there is time for sports on vacation, suitable routes are often unavailable, or the southern sun opposes the activity.
A sensible alternative is a treadmill. Allergy sufferers flee in fitness studios to train symptom-free in conditioned air; holidaymakers use the tape in the hotel. Running on the device does not differ from a unit in nature. The movement sequence is identical for experienced athletes inside and outside.
However, newcomers tend to take smaller steps on the treadmill at the beginning. The reason lies in the perception of the movement. When running outdoors, the brain receives the “movement” information from both the legs and the eyes. It is different on the treadmill: the legs pass the information “movement” on to the brain, the eyes, on the other hand, the information “standstill.”
This contradictory information initially leads to uncertainties in balance. The runner now unconsciously changes to smaller steps that are easier to balance than significant steps. The experienced athlete quickly gets used to it and will soon run again with his usual stride. Newcomers to treadmills are advised to consciously extend their pace after a few minutes of getting used to it.
Incidentally, the effect of the uncertainty in equilibrium reappears when the belt’s speed is reduced towards the end of the unit. When running at a constant training speed, the brain adapts to the different information from the legs and eyes.
If the running gear is quickly reduced, the brain has to get used to the fact that the data from the legs and the eyes are identical when standing. This sometimes leads to slight dizziness. Tip: Slowly reduce the speed and hold on when you get off the belt.
The same training effect …
Compared to running on the track, the road, or in the forest. Many athletes think that the benefit is less because, after all, the runner does not move forward, but only the plastic belt under him backward.
For this reason, for example, the athlete also had to exert less force when printing. But without going into the physical effects in detail now, to put it simply, the agreement of the training effectiveness in both running variants can be recognized by the fact that the heart rate is identical.
The heart rate is a consequence of the oxygen requirement, which depends directly on the energy requirement, and this, in turn, depends on the muscle work. In practice, to achieve an identical training effect, care must be taken that a slight incline of one to two percent is set on the device. The reason is straightforward: there is no air resistance. The reduced effort compensates for the gradient. Alternatively, the treadmill can be set up a little faster.
… but also differences
Of course, there are also differences when training on the treadmill. The lack of cooling due to the non-existent “headwind” should not be underestimated in its effect. This results in significantly more sweating and thus a higher fluid requirement. However, it is, of course, easy to deposit drinks within easy reach on the treadmill.
To estimate the amount of drinking required, it is helpful for newcomers to weigh themselves before and after training. This may be done without clothes so that the sweat in the clothes is not considered. The weight and thus, the fluid loss should not exceed one kilogram.
To minimize sweating and thus the need for fluids, clothing must also be chosen accordingly. On the treadmill, the principle is “short-short,” i.e., pants and shirts in the short version. Even if the first minutes seem a bit cool in air-conditioned studios, this is the most sensible dress code.
Does training on the treadmill damage the joints? The entire support system’s load does not depend on the surface, but primarily on the running technique. With proper technique, sensible training structure and prophylactic athletic training such as strengthening the trunk and stretching, running does not harm the joints, but benefits them!
Bones become better, not worse, through use, because they are optimally supplied with nutrients through movement. This is also the reason why joints are only immobilized in the event of serious injuries – “use it or lose it.” As a result, shoes with more cushioning are not necessary on the treadmill. On the contrary – since the training surface is flat and the foot is placed on it in a controlled manner, less cushioned shoes tend to be used here.
And the advantages?
The training can be carried out on the treadmill, except for pure speed training without compromises. Sometimes, as with interval training, there are even advantages over the outdoor units. Long endurance runs are possible without restrictions.
The mental aspect has a limiting effect because the practice is very monotonous without additional stimuli. Television or music is beneficial. Tempo variations also counteract the monotony. The pace or the incline can be changed here at intervals. We recommend switching between the upper and lower endurance area if you do not want to leave the training area.
Interval and speed run.
Interval training offers an additional challenge on the treadmill. Intervals in the fresh air are often approached too quickly. Towards the end, the speed is usually reduced by the exhaustion that occurs. On the treadmill, on the other hand, the pace is constant after the acceleration phase.
This prevents you from being overplayed at the beginning of the interval, but towards the end of the range, it is a challenge not to give in to fatigue and to keep up the pace. In this way, the feeling of speed can be trained. Training for constant tempo is also an excellent option for long-term runs. This steady tempo is all the more critical, the longer the competition route becomes. In competition, this constancy is naturally disturbed by external influences,
- Familiarize yourself with the device. Where’s the emergency switch? Never jump on the edges next to the belt while running – the risk of falling!
- Put on airy clothing and clean shoes and have enough to drink to avoid overheating.
- For longer runs, be distracted by music or television. Variations in the pace or the incline also provide variety.
- Many devices offer pre-programmed training units. Just try it out!
- An exciting change is control via the pulse for some bands. If your pulse rises, the pace is reduced and vice versa.
- Sometimes the displayed speed is not correct. In studios, the actual speed varies from band to band. Ambitious runners compare this with the pulse-pace ratio calibrated on the road via GPS.