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    Senior Member Blaireau's Avatar
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    running on a treadmill: harder or easier?

    I've been running only a treadmill for a few weeks now... I thought I was doing good, until yesterday when I hit the road.... :-( Has anyone had a similar experience? I thought treadmills were harder, not easier!
    Big tex is going to jail. Fingers crossed.

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    Triathlon in my future??? flip18436572's Avatar
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    I think that depends upon the person. I think it is harder to go outside and run, but I have a friend that runs a lot and things it is harder for him to run on a treadmill. Not because of the inside vs. outside thing, but just harder for him in fitness.
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    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    Oh I find the treadmill much easier. Outside, the ground isn't already moving beneath your feet. I'd add about a third of the distance on a treadmill to get the outside equivalent.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

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    Well I find a treadmill harder if I am using the pace tools - but then I know if I had those on the road the road would probably be harder... If you get what I'm saying?

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    I use a treadmill usually to run, but running outside always feels easier and faster. Perhaps the speed calibration is off on the treadmill, or that i don't have much air or scenery moving by me, but i always feel faster outside. Which is good.

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    Senior Member az_cyclist's Avatar
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    I only use a treadmill when I am on business trips. The treadmill seems easier on your feet, ankles, and knees. It is much more boring. I prefer to run outside.

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    Senior Member tasr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaireau View Post
    I've been running only a treadmill for a few weeks now... I thought I was doing good, until yesterday when I hit the road.... :-( Has anyone had a similar experience? I thought treadmills were harder, not easier!
    The treadmill I use mainly has a awesome incline mode. This is the model. Even then I don’t go below 2% grade after my warm-up. Try ¼ mile warm up then incline to 2-3% for a mile then 4-5% for a ½ mile then back to 2%. Vary it up in your workout and the dramatic effects of going back to open road wouldn’t seems so bad.

    In the winter I use a treadmill for brick workouts mainly. So when I get off the trainer or out of spin I jump on the treadmill. I also use it for intervals and speed work.
    James

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    Senior Member Talewinds's Avatar
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    Treadmill= Waaayyy easier.

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    suburban rasta mon biggsmoothe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talewinds View Post
    Treadmill= Waaayyy easier.
    there's a good thread on slowtwitch, supported by research, saying that is not true. i'll look around for it and try to post a link. regardless, you shouldn't compare your treadmill runs to your road runs. you compare a treadmill run to a previous treadmill run on the same model of treadmill, and you compare a road run to previous road runs on the same stretch of road.

    the beauty of a treadmill is that you can make it as hard you want. its easy to work the speed and incline buttons. you basically have instant access to anything from pancake flat to Pyrenees steep.

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    I find it about the same. I like using the treadmill for hill and speed intervals and doing my long runs outside.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Blaireau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tasr View Post
    The treadmill I use mainly has a awesome incline mode. This is the model. Even then I don’t go below 2% grade after my warm-up. Try ¼ mile warm up then incline to 2-3% for a mile then 4-5% for a ½ mile then back to 2%. Vary it up in your workout and the dramatic effects of going back to open road wouldn’t seems so bad.

    In the winter I use a treadmill for brick workouts mainly. So when I get off the trainer or out of spin I jump on the treadmill. I also use it for intervals and speed work.
    I wonder if my gym has this incline mode.

    Like some posters, I used to think the treadmill was much harder. That was my experience when I was running half marathons back when. Plus it seems that the pace on the treadmill is always slower than on the road. Helps you keep a constant pace too.

    Example: If the treadmill says I can run a sub 9 minute mile, this usually translates on the road as slightly above 8 -- a vast improvement!!

    Now thinks have changed, and running outside feels much harder -- perhaps because I am heavier? It is hard to tell.
    Anyways, I will try the incline thing.

    THanks for the responses -- its always enlightening. :-)
    Big tex is going to jail. Fingers crossed.

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    I've been running strictly on a treadmill for about the last 6 months, due to some back problems. For obvious reasons, the treadmill is way more forgiving on the joints than the pavement or trails are, due to the shock absorption features that nearly all treadmills have. It's also easier for me to keep my pace on the treadmill than it is outside. Seems like when I run outside, my pace can vary drastically from minute to minute. I'm a slow runner...10 minute mile at my best, and that's quite a struggle for me to sustain for a 5k run on the treadmill. Outdoors, I'll run a 4 mile route around my neighborhood and it takes me roughly 45 minutes to complete....so my pace is definitely much slower outside. Running outside also aggravates my back condition more, so it's a Catch-22 with me. I'm doing my first sprint tri in June, and I realize that I need to get off the treadmill and start running outside...but I'm dreading it because I know it's going to be difficult and not without some pain involved.

    Linda

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    Quote Originally Posted by nscrbug View Post
    need to get off the treadmill and start running outside...but I'm dreading it because I know it's going to be difficult and not without some pain involved.
    Try a route that isn't paved. Grass can be unpredictable, but trails are good. The earth will absorb at least some of the impact, much better than concrete. Another option is many newer high schools have tracks with special surfaces created to absorb some of the force.

    As for the original debate, last year I found running on a treadmill more difficult than outside, but as I have increased my distance and time, and started to incorporate ChiRunning, I'm finding the opposite. I'm going to start running outside now that the Midwest weather finally seems to be breaking!

    -- Joolie
    Last edited by joolied; 03-14-08 at 06:23 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Talewinds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biggsmoothe View Post
    there's a good thread on slowtwitch, supported by research, saying that is not true. i'll look around for it and try to post a link. regardless, you shouldn't compare your treadmill runs to your road runs. you compare a treadmill run to a previous treadmill run on the same model of treadmill, and you compare a road run to previous road runs on the same stretch of road.

    the beauty of a treadmill is that you can make it as hard you want. its easy to work the speed and incline buttons. you basically have instant access to anything from pancake flat to Pyrenees steep.
    I'm not a big fan of running anyway, generally. I'd rather be on the bike. But I equate using the treadmill to watching grass grow, mile after mile, snore. And the same can be found in most gyms, look around the room at 90% of the treadmill users, speed set to some benign pace, inclination near zero degrees, burning away the time watching CNN. Real running is a constantly changing angle of pavement, always fluctuating wind direction and intensity.
    I'm sure a test could easily be performed in a lab (vacuum) to measure watts, cardiac output, yadda yadda, I wouldn't begin to argue that. But at the end of the day, I perceive that the treadmill is easier than the miles I logged outside.

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    Two things here.

    I just got back from an indoor run, half of which was on the treadmill and half of which was on an indoor track. At the same perceived exertion easy rest and heart rate (145-150) I run about 20 seconds faster on the indoor track, 6:40 vs. 7:00. I've always thought the treadmill was harder.

    Second, not all treadmills are the same. I switch at the gym sometimes just for the heck of it and I would guess that they are precise within .6mph from my experience. Thats a big difference to me.

  16. #16
    suburban rasta mon biggsmoothe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talewinds View Post
    I perceive that the treadmill is easier than the miles I logged outside.
    i think that's the most important factor - perception. if you perceive the treadmill is easier in your mind, then your body will follow suit and the run will feel easier.

    i wish i could perceive hills as being easy.

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    Senior Member sigg.switz's Avatar
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    I find that I run slower on a treadmill, for the same perceived effort. I usually run on a 1% incline and find that I run faster outside. That being said, perceived effort is the important component on the road or mill.
    Taste Death, Live Life.

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    Senior Member Blaireau's Avatar
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    I just tried the treadmill with the incline; I think it will make a difference.
    Thanks to those who mentioned it.
    Big tex is going to jail. Fingers crossed.

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    Yep...I too, have been running on a slight (1 - 1.5) incline ever since reading the post where someone mentioned it. It's quite a bit tougher, but I think in the long run...it will make the transition to running outside a bit easier for me.

  20. #20
    Squirrelly Member trsidn's Avatar
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    I just got back from a run on the levee. AAAACCKKKK!!!

    torture...
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Yet more proof that I'm.. well, pretty much right about everything.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Blaireau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trsidn View Post
    I just got back from a run on the levee. AAAACCKKKK!!!

    torture...

    Why was is torture?

    Was it...the heat?...the humidity?.....the smell from the refineries? ;-)
    Big tex is going to jail. Fingers crossed.

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    It's harder in the sense of coordination. It's easier in terms of effort, and not nearly as rough on the body (I'm not convinced the muscle load is exactly the same either though its close). The base of the treadmill is rather springy and so it's much more like running on a indoor track then asphalt. You get more on the return stroke then you would normally. People run faster on a treadmill because of that (and get used to running faster then they can on asphalt). Some treadmills are so springy that they can mess up technique (you end up teaching yourself to pound the pavement because the mill rewards it). I messed up my first marathon trying to run only on a rather springy treadmill. The roadway mills (look like tank treads with individual planks for the belt) are the best. Watch out for cheap mills too as they stall out on part of the run stroke. Overall treadmill's are an excellent way to get in shape, and to avoid hurting the body so much when training for a race but you have to hit the road on the long weekly runs to keep your body used to the impact/pace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talewinds View Post
    Treadmill= Waaayyy easier.
    +1000

    When you're running on a treadmill, you're indoors. There's no wind, cold temp, rain, and you don't have to be bundled up....

    Also the "ground" is moving beneath you like others said before... That means you can hop half a mile if you wanted to... or take long strides so that the machine "works" for you.... Runners never run exactly 10.000 mph when they're outside... it's impossible, pace varies as fatigue and grade changes... But on a treadmill it's always done... just set the speed...

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    General rule of thumb for running on a treadmill, taking most all variables into considertion, is that a 1% to 2% incline on the treadmill is required to equal running on a level road course.

    I like running on both. A treadmill CAN have less impact on joints, allow for speed and grade work, and allow you to stay close to home (Kids). Of course, nothing can prepare you more than getting out and doing real work on a real road. I tend to run for time and intervals on a treadmill while I go distance and pace on the road. Of course, either will be of benifit and just getting out and moving is what's important.

    Regards.
    Mike
    Huntington Beach, CA

  25. #25
    Senior Member Blaireau's Avatar
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    You know I thought about this treadmill vs outside debate and here is what I have come to think:

    Its about weight. THe heavier one is, the easier running on a treadmill will be. I think this makes sense logically. Empirically, I certainly remember having a much easier time running outside (and comparatively harder on a treadmill) when I was in tip-top shape weighing in at 145 with a very low body fat percentage. Today at 176, running outside is harder -- or at least I am slower -- than running on a treadmill.

    How does that strike you?
    Big tex is going to jail. Fingers crossed.

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