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  • From Dreaded Boredom to True Advantage – Benefits of Treadmill Running

    Posted on September 14th, 2009 Michele Sun No comments

    Last weekend I went to a movie with Loi, whom I had trained with and completed the Honolulu Marathon together in 2006. There were about 150 runners that season through Team In Training program, and “my girls” were Loi, Jennifer, Linda, Robin, Suzanne and the six of us completed the Honolulu Marathon together. After that season, Loi and I had done some shorter distance races together, like the Kaiser Half Marathon and Bridge to Bridge 10K in San Francisco; we always had good laugh about our “working on it” to get freebies at event expos or hotel room upgrade. When Loi came down to L.A. for Christmas, we got to meet at Pasadena for lunch and she reminded me how close our running groups were and how much I enjoyed running with her.

    So we chit-chatted after the Ponyo movie, and was so glad that almost everyone from that season is still actively running and some has even started competing in Triathlon instead of just marathon. I asked her about Bertina’s Tokyo Marathon earlier this year, and she told me the most unbelievable and amazing story behind this event – Bertina had trained herself on a treadmill. Apparently after an injury, Bertina could not run outdoors,  and she did not want to quit this race so she started doing all her long runs on a treadmill. She even programmed the machine so she could stopped every hour to do the GU gel and sport drink routine — to mimic a true race. This amazing girl not only finished Tokyo Marathon but also did better than in Honolulu.

    Probably every long distance runner would tell you the same thing – they hate running on treadmill and running on a treadmill is not good for marathon training. Simply because running on a treadmill takes some of the intensity out of your workout. When I first started running, Stan has told me that treadmill running is not the same as running in the great outdoors. On a treadmill, you do not have to deal with wind resistance, bike coming from behind, bird or dog poops, changes in surface type, or changes in elevation…etc. “You use less brain power and energy when you run on a treadmill.” Stan has advised me.

    Besides it’s very boring to run on a machine, plus those disadvantages that I was told, is there any advantages at all? So I took some time to research about treadmill running, and found it does have its benefit and can be an important part of a running training program.

    To start with the very obvious, the weather is always perfect when running inside. When you run on a treadmill, you do not have to deal with challenges created by heavy winds, dangerous thunderstorms, or icy blasts of winter. Like yesterday morning, I started my morning run at 5:50am and it was a nice and cool morning, but then it started to drizzle around mile 2, and I saw lightening strike when I was at mile 3. I was forced to speed up my pace afterward to avoid getting caught in the thunderstorm.

    Running surfaces can change when outside condition changes, wet or icy, depending on weather conditions. But a treadmill is always the same rubbery surface, so foot placement is certain. This allows you to focus on your running form rather than worrying about balance. And you set the pace and run at that speed throughout the repeat. The treadmill does not allow you to slow down or speed up, so it’s good for pacing training.

    Another advantage is preventing injury — the treadmill belt is a softer surface than many outdoor surfaces, so it reduces the impact on joints. When running, every footfall drives the body’s weight to the point of impact, stressing joints in the feet, ankle, knees, and hips. The treadmill surface minimizes the impact, reducing the risk of injury.

    Treadmill is also very convenient. Parents with kids can run on a treadmill with their children nearby if there is a treadmill in the home. Also you don’t need to drive to a park or a trail to do your runs. For female runners, there’s a safety factor as well; you can run on a treadmill at any time without fearing for your safety, and no need for flashlight or head-light gear when running in the dark.

    Some of my girl friends simply hate to get all sweaty from doing any form of exercise, so for health, fitness and weight loss purposes I would suggest they try running on the treadmill. A calorie burned on a treadmill is the same as a calorie burned during any other activity, and running on the treadmill offers similar fitness benefits to running outside without worrying about getting sunburned or age spots 🙂


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