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deepbluex's picture
Joined: Oct 5 2005
Posts: 897
Treadmill running: I run slower on treadmill than on ground

When I run on the treadmill, the computer display says I do 9 minute miles and it feels really fast and difficult. When I run on the ground, around my neighborhood, using paths I've measured through my bike computer and/or googlemaps, my pace is 8 minute miles with less perceived effort.

Why does it feel harder when running on the treadmill than on flat ground? I thought that the action of the moving belt on a treadmill actually helped you cheat a faster pace. Is it just me?

Leroy Bonkers's picture
Joined: Aug 29 2007
Posts: 365
I have the same experience!

I have the same experience! The treadmill (always at 1% incline) feels very difficult compared to the same outdoor pace. I know, I know, it's crazy talk. But I almost ralphed all over the treadmill this morning (sorry to anyone named Ralph)

Perhaps it could have anything to do with stopping for crosswalks, varying the pace, and being a bit cooler outdoors?

tsilcyc's picture
Joined: Jul 2 2006
Posts: 859
I wouldn't trust the

I wouldn't trust the accuracy of the display. You might just throw a towel over the display, adjust to the desired pace and then look. It's essentially the same thing as running outside because unless you're wearing GPS, it's based on perceived exertion.

derek5's picture
Joined: Nov 11 2007
Posts: 196
I have talked a lot about

I have talked a lot about this with some other triathletes because I have had the same sensation. I am just brainstorming here, but maybe it has to do with stride length. The treadmill has to make the "road" (the belt) go 8 miles per hour lets say, but if you have a relatively short stride it could feel faster . I am not sure if that make sense I just know I have had the same feeling on the treadmill.

WarMachine's picture
Joined: Jan 14 2008
Posts: 39
Like many others, I too have

Like many others, I too have experienced this. I also notice that different muscles "feel" the difference between the two. I get the sensation that different muscles are utilized differently between the two scenarios. For example, the muscles around my shins are sore after getting back on the treadmill more during the colder months. If you aren't used to running on a treadmill as much, it may seem harder until you "adapt". Also, take into consideration hills where you exert and rest, exert and rest. It might just be me, but test this: set the treadmill at 9min miles for 10 minutes, then increase to 8:30min miles for 2 minutes then up again to 8:00min for 2 minutes then 7:30 for 2 minutes (If you can :) ). Then drop back to 8:30...I do this when I feel sluggish and it seems to get me going. I notice this on the bike as well...I go much faster on my road bike than the machine.

scottbland247's picture
Joined: Dec 28 2007
Posts: 221
The give in the treadmill

The give in the treadmill (which helps lessen impact on your legs) also sucks some of the spring and power out of your stride (i.e. runnning on grass instead of road.....or more dramatically, sand or packed dirt)

it's harder to stride forward, also the breeze when moving through the air helps lower your temp (air conditioning doesn't work in the same manner because of lower circulation)

also most of us tend to be more alert and intellectually engaged when road running and since we arent tied to a specific pace tend to move a little faster

(I just started training after a 9 year sedentary streak and am dreaming of a 25min 5k tommorrow morning based on my treadmill progress......however, I went out three days ago for an endurance run and didn't feel like I was pushing and ran a 40min 5 mile.........completely freaked me out because I thought I was runnning 10's and cranked out 8's.......meanwhile a 26minute 5k on the treadmill a week ago almost killed me)

just an opinion......what do some of you more experience ones think?

Sully800's picture
Joined: Sep 19 2007
Posts: 446
I've always felt like I can

I've always felt like I can go pretty fast on the treadmill, possibly faster than on regular distance runs (someone has to be different!)

Sometimes when I'm running on the open road I let my pace dip accidentally, but on the treadmill there is no effort to maintain your current pace. By setting it to whatever you "should" be able to hold, you can zone out and focus on form without thinking about pace. The only problem is that treadmill running is extremely boring and I have a hard time tolerating more than 30 minutes of it. Anyway, I never seemed to experience the problem of not being able to run as fast on a treadmill.

Leroy Bonkers's picture
Joined: Aug 29 2007
Posts: 365
Scott, I think you've got a

Scott, I think you've got a really good point with the 'cush' of the treadmill.

TriSooner's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2007
Posts: 3376
My 2-cents is that the

My 2-cents is that the treadmill engages (slightly) different muscles. On the road your hammies are literally pulling your body horizontally along the road; on a treadmill, the belt does all the horizontal pulling and you use the hammies (much) and you use mostly hip flexors to (vertically) pull your legs up and in front of you again. Maybe?

deepbluex's picture
Joined: Oct 5 2005
Posts: 897
I think Scott has a good

I think Scott has a good point about the cushionning of the treadmill absorbing a lot of the kinetic energy for each step as well as Trisooner's horizontal "pull" being minimal on a treadmill because the belt does all that work while we just bounce our feet off the moving belt.

In a way perhaps treadmill running is more like "jump rope" because the focus is to keep the body off the ground. The fact the ground is not returning the energy back makes it harder like running on soft grass instead of asphalt.

I also agree that the lack of moving air while running on a treadmill makes it just "feel" less comfortable. Sweat seems to not evaporate on the treadmill - I get pretty soaked after 30 mins.

scottbland247's picture
Joined: Dec 28 2007
Posts: 221
yeah i come back from a

yeah i come back from a treadmill run looking like i went swimming

it's pretty gross

longhair's picture
Joined: Nov 5 2007
Posts: 173
I wonder if the lack of

I wonder if the lack of forward momentum has anything to do with it. Once the body is in motion it stays in motion kind of thing. On the treadmill, there is no forward momentum...the ground is slipping past you.

ChunkyB's picture
Joined: Oct 15 2007
Posts: 1146
I've noticed that I actually

I've noticed that I actually run a lot faster on a treadmill. This might have something to do with the fact that I hold myself up with the handrails, and just let my feet lightly brush the tread, but I can't be sure.

Pete L.'s picture
Joined: Aug 22 2006
Posts: 167
ChunkyB wrote:I've noticed

[quote=ChunkyB]I've noticed that I actually run a lot faster on a treadmill. This might have something to do with the fact that I hold myself up with the handrails, and just let my feet lightly brush the tread, but I can't be sure. [/quote]

I don't think you're doing it right. :P

deepbluex's picture
Joined: Oct 5 2005
Posts: 897
ChunkB, you can go even

ChunkB, you can go even faster if you put rollerblades on your feet and hold on to the side rails!

ChunkyB's picture
Joined: Oct 15 2007
Posts: 1146
deepbluex wrote:ChunkB, you

[quote=deepbluex]ChunkB, you can go even faster if you put rollerblades on your feet and hold on to the side rails![/quote]

Hey, I'm not lazy here. I'm just trying to get the most out of my workouts. The most treadmill distance, that is.

Maybe I could get those shoes that just have the one wheel on the back, so I could hold on to the rails, and kind of use the normal shoes and the wheels. Like crosstraining.

McTri's picture
Joined: Dec 18 2007
Posts: 50
Hey chunky, I just read your

Hey chunky, I just read your blog and I live on the route(springville section) you rode today and actually have pictures of the ninja turtles from yesterday! Maybe I will see you riding around this year.

ChunkyB's picture
Joined: Oct 15 2007
Posts: 1146
That's awesome. I didn't

That's awesome. I didn't think anyone actually read my blog (even in my family). I really like that route. If you see a chunky fellow riding that bike in the picture, it's probably me. PM me some time if you want to go on a ride. It will probably be more of a recovery ride for you, but it might be fun. I ride with my dad, brothers, and a friend, but they all live up in Bountiful, so they don't really come down to my neck of the woods. Thanks for reading the blog.

azstinger11's picture
Joined: Nov 21 2006
Posts: 489
Hey Chunky what program did

Hey Chunky what program did you get that map and data from I really like it!

ChunkyB's picture
Joined: Oct 15 2007
Posts: 1146
Ascent:

Ascent: http://www.montebellosoftware.com/

I really love it so far. The plotting options are actually the main reason I like it, but it's also nice because it keeps track of totals, and the satellite GPS is obviously a million times better than Garmin Training Center. Plus, those colors on the route are heart rate zones, which is a nice little plus. It's Mac only, but if you have a mac, it's really the only way to go. I'm still finding new features that I love every time I use it. You can get a demo that will let you load 10 workouts. After that you have to pay, but try the demo and see what you think.

Leroy Bonkers's picture
Joined: Aug 29 2007
Posts: 365
So to confirm the "treadmill

So to confirm the "treadmill is hard" theory, here are my past two Saturday workouts

1st week - goal 20 miles at 8min/mile. Snow and ice forced me indoors. Couldn't do more than 15.5 miles on the treadmill at that pace. 1% grade. I have completed multiple runs in the 17-20 mile range at 8:00-8:15 pace so far this season, so I was suprised to 'poop out' so early.

2nd week - goal 13 miles at 7:30 pace. Ran 13 miles at average 7:20 pace, felt easier than the treadmill run. This was not a flat course, but a typical north Atlanta "climb and dive". (Pickneyville Park off Peachtree Industrail Blvd., if anyone knows it). This was measured using a Timex GPS.

So... accounting for variables (accuracy of measure, stoplights, hills, temp, etc.) the bottom line is that running outside produced a faster pace. Viva la ROAD.

cjhoffmn's picture
Joined: Sep 3 2007
Posts: 704
Can't tell you how happy I

Can't tell you how happy I am to read this post. Bought a treadmill over the holidays (local gym store was sold and had a 50% off sale everything - brand new treadmills included... woohoo!). I figured it would be perfect for my whole adaptation to Evolution Running thing, plus give me measured results on a consistent path, plus I need to do as much training at home in the house as possible with a now 3 month old in the house...

I too was blown away at how hard it was for me to maintain any decent pace. Whereas I was running relatively slowly outdoors, I could manage paces in the 7min/mile range for a while with decent ability. On the treadmill, I seriously feel like I'm working much much harder to keep that kind of pace.

Not sure why this is the case, but feel strongly that there is something to this. I even had to recalibrate the footpod for my Forerunner 305. It was measuring a much faster pace than the treadmill.

Very interesting.

JohnieTri's picture
Joined: Sep 15 2005
Posts: 242
derek5 wrote:I have talked a

[quote=derek5]I have talked a lot about this with some other triathletes because I have had the same sensation. I am just brainstorming here, but maybe it has to do with stride length. The treadmill has to make the "road" (the belt) go 8 miles per hour lets say, but if you have a relatively short stride it could feel faster . I am not sure if that make sense I just know I have had the same feeling on the treadmill.[/quote]

I agree with this. I think that it's probably a more efficient stride on the treadmill,i.e. more leg turnover, landing with your feet underneath your body instead of too far out front, than what your used to on the road. The treadmill essentially makes you take shorter, quicker strides. Probably a good thing. Just make sure you have the 1% incline going.

DTinVA's picture
Joined: Sep 14 2007
Posts: 45
I have the same problem as

I have the same problem as many of you. My pace on the treadmill is slower than a run outside. I mostly attribute this to the fact that if I run my outside pace on my treadmill in the basement, I'm going to be hitting my head on the ceiling for several miles! :lol: We have some pretty low ceilings down there, but it's better than nothing and sure as heck beats NOT doing some kind of work out!

psychosyd's picture
Joined: Sep 12 2007
Posts: 182
It is all about stride

It is all about stride length and cadence. If you have a higher cadence you will definitely experience this epiphenomena.

ChrisCooper's picture
Joined: Jan 15 2010
Posts: 2
My speed on the treadmill

My speed on the treadmill seems to depend on the desirability of the ladies in the gym, don't know why.

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