When it comes to running on the treadmill, most people find it boring, torturous, and would rather be outside where they can get a “better” workout. Here is something to consider that may actually help you feel better about that run you need to get in on the treadmill. For those of you who follow my blog, you probably already know that I’m a firm believer of heart rate training. It’s really the only objective way you can track your progress and conditioning while at the same time greatly reduce the likelihood of overtraining or becoming injured. If you haven’t read any of my other blog posts, here is one discussing Maffetone’s method to heart rate training you probably should read.
When you first begin to understand your perceived effort with heart rate training, you will realize that when you are on a treadmill, you tend to run at with a faster rate at a given heart rate then you do outside. This is usually due to the lack of wind resistance as well as the absence of hills. While many see this an insufficient workout or run, here is something to consider. When you are training at your aerobic rate outside, your pace will actually be slower (Maffetone describes this as being 180-age in BPM and will build endurance and improve conditioning most efficiently without over exertion. Over exerting can lead to longer recovery times and overtraining/injury). On the treadmill, this same aerobic rate will have you running a bit faster (sometimes 30 seconds per mile) and get your legs used to the quicker turnover at an overall lower HR then you would be experiencing while running outside. So your legs are getting a “speed” workout without overtaxing the cardiovascular system. Maffetone describes doing speed workouts downhill for the same reasons- the legs get used to faster turnover rates while the heart and cardiovascular system does not get overtaxed. The best of both worlds!!