January 24, 2008 at 11:26 pm #6912
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?January 24, 2008 at 11:40 pm #89185
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?January 25, 2008 at 12:55 am #89191
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.January 25, 2008 at 1:29 am #89193
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.January 25, 2008 at 2:58 am #89197
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.January 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm #89210
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?January 25, 2008 at 2:28 pm #89212
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.January 25, 2008 at 2:50 pm #89214
Scott, I think you’ve got a really good point with the ‘cush’ of the treadmill.January 25, 2008 at 3:12 pm #89217
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?January 25, 2008 at 9:23 pm #89247
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.January 25, 2008 at 9:30 pm #89248
yeah i come back from a treadmill run looking like i went swimming
it’s pretty grossJanuary 26, 2008 at 1:48 am #89262
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.January 26, 2008 at 4:51 pm #89277
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.January 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm #89282
Pete L.ParticipantChunkyB wrote: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.
I don’t think you’re doing it right.January 26, 2008 at 7:11 pm #89284
ChunkB, you can go even faster if you put rollerblades on your feet and hold on to the side rails!
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