December 13, 2017

Treadmill Running

A couple of weeks ago I was away in Orlando, Florida. For those of you who know this part of the world, you will know that it is absolutely boiling. The early hours of the morning are by far the coolest between 12:00 am – 6:00 am, and even still this was averaging around 32.C, not to mention that it was close to 40.C throughout the day. Added on top of this came the humidity and inability to easily breath with the air being so dense with water. All this being the case, running was impossible meaning I had to resort to running indoors on a treadmill, something I haven’t done much of before.

The treadmills I had available to run on
The treadmills I had available to run on

I feel like I have had a love hate relationship with treadmills so far. They come as an appealing option whenever it is ver cold and icy outside and they have some give in them, reducing the continuous impact of concrete roads. However, they certainly come with equalling levels of downfalls, most notably of which being their availability.

Disadvantages:
For most (those who don’t own their own) you have to actually travel to get to where you’re going to be running. This is quite the opposite of normal road running where all you have to do is put on a pair of trainers and run from your door. Instead, you have to go to your local gym – which for me would be 20 minute drive – and then pay a membership of some sort for the luxury of running indoors. Obviously you’d get other benefits too of the gym and other machines there, however, it does seem a fairly arduous process just to be running indoors.

My Experience and Advantages:
Saying all of this, I was lucky enough to have a free gym at the hotel which I was staying at in Orlando. Here, I was able to turn up whenever and have access to the treadmills which I would run on a daily basis. One of the best things which I found – as previously mentioned – was that it was quite soft to run on, similar to that of grass, significantly reducing the impact which was great for me seeing as shins splints is an ongoing issue.

When it came to the running, I did a variety of activities but mainly switching between interval sessions and steady, longer runs. The only other issue besides availability comes with the actual accuracy. Now, I haven’t run on treadmills much at all but I have done a lot of running in the past and it was quite easily to tell that the pace being displayed on the treadmill was far from what was being run in reality. I was also wearing a heart rate monitor and this clearly showed up the pacing to be wrong and I wasn’t just having a good day.

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Being the number lover that I am, I sadly had to give up on accurately tracking the running and running off feeling rather than what pace I know I should be at. This was good though as it allowed me to be conservative and run to my level, not over doing it. Using the treadmill in this way was also really easy to alter the pace (up to the maximum 12 mph). Whilst being conservative on the longer runs, it was also really good to push the pace on the interval runs when normally you could ease off, here it kept you going for the whole interval which I found really good.

Running Data:
I had certain issues with my heart rate monitor at the time so the information which I gathered off both my Garmin Forerunner 405 and Garmin Vivosmart. Over an interval session of:
5 Minutes Warm Up, 4 x (5 Minutes), 5 Minutes Cool Down, there seemed to be no distinctive heart rate differences despite the dramatic pace changes.

The heart rate data over the intervals was incorrect
The heart rate data over the intervals was incorrect

It would seem to be much more accurate however on the 30 minute easy run I did on the second day where the treadmill said that I had run 6.92km (4:20min/km) with an average 161 bpm heart rate. Here, I feel that the HR data was accurate, not the treadmill, seeing as I would expect a higher HR for that pace over that time period. Since I didn’t have a footpad or an internal accelerometer in the watch, I couldn’t see whether this was accurate or not, so I just went off what the treadmill displayed.

Longer runs worked better
Longer runs worked better

Final Thoughts:
I feel that the week I had running on treadmills was far from a bad experience. It served its purpose very well, with it being a great alternative to running on roads in 40.C heat. For many people, they are perfect for running on, those who aren’t too bothered about their data and what pace they are running at will find them a great alternative.

For me however, I feel as if they are still just a bit off from being really great. Maybe it was due to me using older, more used treadmills that the accuracy wasn’t there, but I feel that when this accuracy level improves, they are great to run on, especially for reducing impact on the legs.

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