The advantages of running on a treadmill
In 1817, Sir William Cubitt, an eminent British civil engineer, designed a machine called treadwheel to reform idle prisoners and use their power to be productive. Their work was used to pump water and grind grains, the reason why the machine was later called a treadmill. Some say a certain prison guard claimed that it was the monotonous steadiness and not the work intensity which made the machine a punishment instrument.
The use of treadmills in prisons was completely abolished by the end of the 19th century, nevertheless, they have gained more modern and sophisticated designs over the years, serving different purposes. They are not seen as means of torture anymore, at least not by most.
The first modern treadmill was used by Dr Robert Bruce, a cardiologist at the University of Washington, also known as “the father of exercise cardiology”, to monitor and diagnose several heart conditions and diseases. He eventually developed the “Bruce Protocol”, a standardized treadmill test for evaluating cardiovascular functions that is still used today.
The pioneer for creating a fitness treadmill was Mr William Staub. In 1968, after reading a book by Dr Kenneth Cooper, the American engineer noticed that there were no affordable treadmills for home use at that time and decided to develop a treadmill for his own use. The first treadmill for the masses was born.
Since then, many models have been refined using the latest technology innovations. Even so, there are still many people who feel like those prisoners doing forced labour when they train on a treadmill. But does training on a treadmill have to look like a torture and punishment session? Definitely not. There is no need to feel like running on a hamster wheel.
Some runners cannot cope with the monotony of the treadmill, while others simply love the accuracy of doing structured indoor workouts. Although running outdoors seems much more appealing to most runners, running on a treadmill can be a great opportunity to do specific workouts in a controlled environment.
We bring the pros of running on a treadmill so you can turn your indoor training into your favour and get the best out of it.
You do not have to worry about the weather
Running in the rain, when it is extremely cold or snowing or even under the scorching sun can be very unpleasant for some. Running on a treadmill allows you to keep up with your training schedule, no matter how bad the weather is outside. If you run on cold days, it takes longer for the body to warm up and if there is snow or ice, it can compromise your running form, creating muscular tightness and extra energy expenditures. You are also more prone to get cold-related illnesses and hypothermia during extremely cold days. On the other hand, when you have high temperatures outside, it can lead to dehydration, a decrease of performance and your body will take more time to properly recover. Using a treadmill lowers your chances to compromise or miss a training session due to poor weather, bringing more consistency to your training plan.
Running on a treadmill reduces the impact on your musculoskeletal system when compared to running on man made urban surfaces. The impact caused by running on hard surfaces eventually can cause ankle, knee and back injuries. Treadmills have relatively soft surfaces and some modern models even have shock absorption systems to minimize the impact over soft tissues. It is also safer as you do not have to worry about branches, stones or any other obstacle along the way where you could trip over, providing a reliable surface to run.
You can work on a better running form
Although some researchers agree that running outside is more likely to offer a natural gait cycle, running on a treadmill can teach you how to pace your workout as it provides speed control. When you run outside, many variables can affect your running pace such as distance, terrain conditions, elevation gain and the weather. Training on a treadmill is an opportunity to practice a variety of paces, depending on the workout purpose, in a more controlled manner. Because you have those variables controlled, it is also a good way to improve your running form and focus on technique, being fully aware of body movements such as arm swing, core muscles activation and foot land. Better form leads to a higher running economy which makes you a faster and more efficient runner.
It is a great tool to work on structured workouts
Certain workouts, such as speed sessions, interval and tempo, require a determined running pace to help you improve your efficiency, economy and thereafter your race performance. Training on a treadmill offers you a very accurate effort level and your high-intensity sessions can be done much more effectively. You are more in control of your training sessions as the speed and incline can be varied and settings can be adjusted to meet your needs, whether it is a hilly workout or intervals. Those specific workouts are usually shorter and are a great choice if you don’t have much time to train. They also give you something to aim for and keep going through hard efforts, breaking the monotony of running indoors. Instead of watching television or staring at a wall, you can commit more seriously to your training, having fun and improving your fitness at the same time without feeling bored.
Training indoors is not only important for your high-intensity sessions, but also for your recovery runs as you can avoid the temptation to run further and harder than your training plan requires.
Another option to make your training more enjoyable is using running apps as they offer you the opportunity to connect to people around the world and let you run with friends in a virtual environment, exploring virtual routes in other countries. Those apps also provide structured workouts designed by professional coaches for runners who are searching for specific training sessions.
Although running outdoors can give that extra boost of endorphins and be much more exciting and pleasurable for most runners, there are times and occasions where the treadmill can be a better choice. It can be a convenient way to work on various physiological stimuli and also to bring more consistency to your training routine.