Author Topic: Opinions on treadmill training  (Read 8183 times)

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Offline Bart

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Opinions on treadmill training
« on: November 18, 2003, 07:27:16 PM »
Over the past six months I've evolved to where I almost never ran on a treadmill to the point where I'm running four times a week (out of six runs), including my long run, on the treadmill.  

I started treadmill running to escape the Southern Louisiana heat during the summer.  I've continued it into the fall for various reasons.  The main one is that I like to watch football, and I figure that I'm better off watching while on the treadmill than sitting on the couch.  Other benefits are that the treadmill forces me to maintain pace on tempo runs and repeats, and it gets me away from the pounding of the pavement.

I usually run between 40-50 miles per week.  I'm just wondering if I'm selling myself short.  If I ran the same mileage at the same intensity on the roads, would my running improve (using race times as the barometer)?

Thanks in advance for your opinions.

Bart
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Offline JCWrs

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Opinions on treadmill training
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2003, 08:46:36 PM »
I dont have an answer, but I'd be interested to know what everyone thinks.  I go to school in North Dakota and I've never adapted to the cold so I train entirely on the treadmill for most of the winter.  I'm up to doing over 40 mpw on the treadmill and I've done more runs of 10+ miles on the treadmill in the last 6 weeks then anyone should ever be subjected to.
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Offline Zeke

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'mills
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2003, 08:52:17 PM »
Bart,

I bought a 'mill about 4 years ago.  Even though I live in MN, I don't train on it all the time.  I'd rather be outside as much as possible.  However, I would say that my running got much more consistent after buying the 'mill.  Prior to that it was too easy to take the day off due to cold/hot weather, icy/snowy roads, etc.  Instead I'd just hop on the 'mill and run.

One thing about my 'mill is that I don't really trust the accuracy.  For instance, when I jump from 7.1 to 7.2 mph I can hear the motor kick in and the pace picks up quite a bit.  If I have my HRM on, it'll jump too.  Instead, I just try to focus on the intensity I want and the duration.  

I've also read that you need to put your 'mill at 2% incline to simulate running on the roads.  I usually do this, but I don't know if it helps.  I think it's still important to get out on the roads a couple of times a week.

I don't think you'll lose anything by running on a 'mill rather than the roads.  Heck, in 2000 Christina Clark, who's from Alaska and did all her training on her 'mill, won the women's US marathon trials, which was run in hot weather too.
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Offline Jason

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Opinions on treadmill training
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2003, 09:00:18 PM »
Im also not very experienced with treadmill running.  I think that you still need to get out on the roads some to keep the feel that you get from the roads.  I also am a stong believer in running lots of hill, which you don't get off the treadmill.  Otherwise have others have said you shouldn't loose much as long as you get in the desired intensity.
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Offline Ryan

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Opinions on treadmill training
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2003, 09:02:59 PM »
If you're racing, don't go too strongly to the mill. The Christina Clark story is more myth than reality. She used the mill but still did a lot of running on solid ground.

The big problem with treadmill running is that it is not exactly the same as running. You don't have wind resistance, which is the big thing. You also don't have uneven surfaces or weather conditions, which are things you have to deal with when racing. I have seen a handful of stories of people who have run nearly solely on treadmill insisting they were getting better training than if they were outdoors. When they went to race, they self destructed. When things came out, they were not ready for the intangible variables that couldn't be copied on the treadmill.

That said, variables such as adaption to heat for cold climate runners training through the winter for spring races can be a significant benefit of treadmill running.

My suggestion is usually to do your best to keep at least your hard workouts on solid ground and do as many easy runs as possible also on solid ground. Stick to the mill for filler miles. The treadmill shouldn't be considered a bad thing but it also shouldn't be relied on too heavily.

BTW: I have a treadmill pace/incline conversion chart in the training section of the website.

Offline Zeke

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hills
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2003, 08:22:08 AM »
Quote
I also am a stong believer in running lots of hill, which you don't get off the treadmill.


Most 'mills have an incline option.  Mine goes up to 10%.

I thought I read something recently about 'mills not developing the hamstrings as much as running on the road.  I think it was because you don't have to work your hamstrings has much because the surface is already moving.  But don't quote me on that.

My take is that's training outside is better than on a 'mill, however training on a 'mill is better than a zero in the log book.
"It doesn't get easier.  You just go faster." - Greg LeMond

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Offline Ryan

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Re: hills
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2003, 08:32:04 AM »
Quote from: "Zeke"
My take is that's training outside is better than on a 'mill, however training on a 'mill is better than a zero in the log book.


That's the bottom line. If you can get outside (or on an indoor track or something like that) to run, that's the best option. If, for some reason, you can't, the treadmill is the next best option. As long as you don't rely too heavily on the treadmill, it shouldn't hurt your racing performances. What "too heavily" means is of course up for debate but I personally do all I can to avoid treadmills for planned hard runs as a starting point and limit my treadmill use for all other runs as much as possible.

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mills
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2003, 09:21:32 AM »
Like Zeke said , to simulate outdoors (wind, elevations, what have you) You need to run at 2% incline.     Like Ryan said I think they are great for Flier miles or mile repeats , 800's , any kind of speed work.   The accuracy thing is somewhat still out there.   I always feel like a 7:00 min pace on the mill is like 6:45 pace it always seems faster than the reading.

I ran a 20 miler on a mill and it was tough to get through it!     So I say short speed stuff and some tempo work.   I once asked Pfitzinger about treadmills and his quote was " wouldn't recommend it get up and hour early"    so I think there better than a no run day. The pounding and different elements of outside really can't be duplicated on the mill.

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Offline Ryan

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Re: mills
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2003, 09:42:19 AM »
Quote from: "Anonymous"
Like Ryan said I think they are great for Flier miles or mile repeats , 800's , any kind of speed work.


I said that? I believe what I said was I do my best to avoid mills for speedwork. Speedwork, in my mind, is at least to some extent about trying to mimic racing efforts. That's why, when I was in school, our speedwork venues would vary depending on season. During c-c season, all of our workouts would be on trails and fields. During indoor track season, everything was on the indoor track. During outdoor track season, everything on the outdoor track. The tracks were available to us during c-c season but we weren't racing on the track so we didn't do our workouts on the track. The trails were available to us during outdoor track season but we weren't racing on trails so we didn't do our workouts on the trails. Since we know that the treadmill is different than running on solid ground, you're shooting yourself in the foot trying to mimic race efforts on the treadmill unless your race is going to also be on a treadmill.

Offline magpie

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my opinion
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2003, 07:13:09 PM »
to be avoided as much as possible and mostly unnecessary.  one with a racing focus would be much better off staying away from treadmills unless outdoor conditions pose a genuine health threat.

Offline magpie

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Re: hills
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2003, 07:16:31 PM »
Quote from: "Zeke"
Quote
I also am a stong believer in running lots of hill, which you don't get off the treadmill.


Most 'mills have an incline option.  Mine goes up to 10%.


how about a decline option? ;)

Offline Bart

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Thanks for the great replies!
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2003, 09:42:58 PM »
The consensus seems to be that the 'mill is better than not running at all but is a distant second to running oudoors, which pretty much confirms what I suspected.  

Personally my biggest concern is that I'll have the fitness to reach my goal, but not the mental toughness to maintain my pace.  When doing tempo runs, repeats, or runs at race pace, the treadmill maintains the pace; all I have to do is run.  I'm wondering if I'll have the toughness to push through the tough miles on race day.  The good news is that I won't have to wait long to find out.  I'm running a half marathon on Sunday.  I'll tell you how it goes.

As far as hills go, I don't train on them, and I don't race on them.  I live among the bayous of Southern Louisiana; I can't even remember the last time I saw a hill.

Thanks again for your replies.

Bart
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Offline Woody

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filler miles
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2003, 10:34:01 PM »
My Bad, Ryan I thought you said flier miles you said filler miles.    


I guess I disagree with the majority on this one.   Although I would much rather run outside or on a track , if I need to do a workout because of the elements I would much rather use the mill for short speed stuff or a ten mile tempo run.        A long run or steady state run is just too boring for me and the workout just doesn't seem the same.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Thanks for the great replies!
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2003, 07:42:25 AM »
Quote from: "Bart"
Personally my biggest concern is that I'll have the fitness to reach my goal, but not the mental toughness to maintain my pace.  When doing tempo runs, repeats, or runs at race pace, the treadmill maintains the pace; all I have to do is run.


That is a concern. The mill can be good for teaching your legs pace, assuming it's calibrated correctly and is actually giving you the right pace. However, it doesn't teach you to choose your pace correctly.

Quote from: "Bart"
As far as hills go, I don't train on them, and I don't race on them.  I live among the bayous of Southern Louisiana; I can't even remember the last time I saw a hill.


Not to switch topics on you but don't disregard the benefit of hills in training even for races that are completely flat. Even track athletes find great benefit in hill workouts and the closest they come to a hill on race day is when they step from the infield to the track. Would it be possible to look for alternatives? Maybe a local stadium (is there a college around or a high school with a decent size football stadium or at least some good sized bleachers?) or stairs in local buildings, parking ramps, bridges. Look for anything that rises above the land and figure out if there is a way to run up and down it.

Offline pski

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t mill
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2003, 07:45:34 AM »
I've abused the treadmill in the past for everything from 22 milers to speedwork and recovery runs.   Especially in the winter build-ups for Boston.  I'd move outdoors for my weekly hill route or short recovery runs wehre fluids wouldn't freeze up.  Speed work is also good for me on a mill when I don't have anybody to run against, I run against the machine.  Zapotek once ran a long run in a tub filled with water and laundry.  Do what has to be done basically.  I felt when really hammering out alot of miles on the Pfitz program for Boston, the T-mill helped my recovery so I could keep up the intensity and progress.  The fine line in all of this training seems to be the right doses of intensity each and every day.                                         PSKI
pski

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