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Running on a treadmill is not for everyone. If you’re just getting started, below are a few tips to make it easier.
If you’ve never run on a treadmill before, then you might find it not nearly as fun as running or being outside. Many people find it difficult to run on a treadmill if they’ve gotten used to running outdoors. Additionally, if you’ve simply never run before, and decide to start with a treadmill, transitioning to outdoor running is equally difficult.
If you’re looking for buying a treadmill for your home, check out our article on buying a treadmill - what you should look for, and how to buy one. Treadmills at the gym are a lot nicer than what you’ll have at home, but you also have to get to the gym to use them.
Why run on a treadmill?
Regardless of where you fall, there are plenty of good reasons to run on a treadmill. Most obvious for a parent is that you can’t get out of the house. You may be running while your child is sleeping, and so leaving the house isn’t an option or else they’ll be left home alone or to wake up another parent who is trying to sleep. This is actually the reason I have a treadmill in our home - leaving the house isn’t an option.
Furthermore, if you live in an area that is cold in the winter, or that gets a lot of snow, you may not be able to run outside. While it’s definitely possible to run outside in the cold, it takes some getting used to. Depending on where you live though, running outside in near 0 degree weather (yes, fahrenheit) is not really fun, and can be dangerous. Running on a treadmill may be your only option in these cases.
How do you run on a treadmill?
Running on a treadmill is just like running outside - put one foot in front of the other (sorry, dad jokes will kill us all). In reality, running on a treadmill is quite a bit different than running outside. You’ve got a machine that is moving underneath you to help you keep your pace. Here are a few tips for running on a treadmill:
- Put the incline to at least 1%, always. Because a treadmill is moving underneath you, it’s quite a bit different in terms of resistance than running outside. It’s helping you to keep your pace. In order to offset that help, increasing your incline will help to give a more realistic idea of how you are really pacing.
- Change the incline often. When you run outside, it’s rarely completely flat. It certainly depends on where you live, but there are likely small hills along with some ups and downs. Many treadmills will have settings to do this automatically for you. If you want to somewhat simulate what it’s like to run outside, you’ll want to change your incline.
- Focus on your pacing. When you’re on a treadmill, focus on how it feels to pace at a certain number. When you get outside, you’ll have to pace yourself which is very different. If you don’t focus on how it feels to pace at the speed you want, and just let the treadmill do all of the work, it won’t go well when you move outdoors (it probably won’t go great either way, but it will be easier if you’ve at least focused on it while running on the treadmill).
- Wear the emergency stop strap. While it can be a bit awkward, the last thing you need is a major injury because you’re trying to be cool without it. It’s really easy to misstep on a treadmill as you’ve got a narrow belt that you’re on. If you’re not wearing the strap, and something goes awry, you’ll have far worse injuries than a twisted ankle. Furthermore, if you have kids at home, and one of them interrupts you while running, you’ll definitely want the treadmill turned off if you move your focus to the child.
Running on a treadmill is quite different from running outside. Don’t expect a simple or smooth transition. Focus on your running form, pacing at the level that you want, and making it as close to an outdoor run as you can. Treadmill running isn’t the worst thing ever, and it can be very beneficial to your health.