A Beginners Guide to Running on a Treadmill
Running is a great way to keep fit, lose weight, and boost your health. Hitting the streets for a run will clear your mind and help you manage stress levels. However, sometimes it’s not possible to get out onto the tarmac for your daily dose of tarmac tension relief. Nature doesn’t follow your running schedule, occasionally ruining training time with thunderstorms, rain, or snow. With ever-increasing demands on our time, completing important or urgent tasks can also cut into the time we spend on the road.
If you are struggling to find the time to run, or you live in a rainy city, a treadmill can help you achieve your training and running goals. This beginners guide will help you with everything you need to know about treadmill running.
The Health Benefits Of Treadmill Running
The health benefits of regular treadmill workouts are the same as you could expect from any form of regular exercise. Elevating your heart rate for an extended period will lead to the following health advantages;(1)
- Improved cardiovascular function.
- Elevated mood.
- Less stress.
- Better health markers such as lower cholesterol and improved blood pressure readings.
- Increased metabolic rate.
- Enhanced cognitive function.
- A better sense of well-being.
- Improved longevity.
The Basic Technology Features of a Treadmill
Treadmills are available from many different manufacturers, with many different models available at a variety of price points to suit any budget. Purchasing a decent quality treadmill from a reputable manufacturer can be an expensive exercise. However, the benefits of owning a treadmill are well worth it.
Purchasing a top of the line treadmill can cost up to $80,000 depending on the brand and model. However, it’s entirely possible to buy a treadmill for much less than that. Treadmill prices range between $2000 to $5000 for a model that will have excellent build quality and outstanding performance.
Some of the critical features that you should look for when selecting a treadmill are the following;
- Variable incline control.
- Variable speed control.
- Automatic belt tracking and adjustment.
- High-powered belt drive.
- Auto-shut off safety cable.
- Timer, distance meter, heart rate monitor.
Other features of a treadmill that are worth considering are;
- Side frame bars for support.
- Programmable workouts.
- Onboard memory for storing previous workout data.
- Built-in connectivity to Wi-Fi for capturing workout data to your device of choice.
Do I need my Own Treadmill?
Having your own treadmill on hand will allow you to use it at any time you like, all you need to do is jump on and start your workout whenever you want. A home treadmill means you don’t need to commute to the gym, saving you time and money that you can use to offset the cost of your treadmill.
While its handy to have a treadmill at home, it’s not completely necessary. Treadmills are the most popular piece of cardio equipment in any gym. Search online for a local gym near to your home and arrange a tour of their facilities. Joining a gym will also allow you to use other strength training or Pilates equipment at a later stage in your treadmill training.
Another bonus of joining a gym instead of owning your equipment is that you do not have to maintain the equipment. Most gyms will usually spend a lot of money on top-of-the-line treadmills that last, and they take care of the maintenance for the members. By joining a gym, you get to use the best equipment, without the hassle of maintaining it, all for a nominal monthly fee that’s a fraction of the cost of a treadmill.
Tips for Running on a Treadmill
- Warm Up
Warming up your legs and core before starting your treadmill workout is essential. If you fail to warm up properly, you increase the risk of exposing yourself to an injury. Make sure that you stretch out your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, groin, and core. Start your workout with a brisk, but light, five-minute walk at no incline and low speed. You will know you are warm and ready to go when your resting heart rate is reading between 105 – 115 bpm.(2)
- Check Your footwear
Your choice of footwear will depend on the structure and shape of your feet. Choose a shoe that provides comfort and support to your foot and allows you to run with the proper form required. For treadmill running, we recommend minimalist running shoes for their thin soles and lightweight construction. However, this is not a hardened rule set in stone, so go with the shoes you feel most comfortable wearing.
- Form is Critical
Your form while running on the treadmill is critical. Keep your chin raised, shoulders pulled back, and sternum pointed upward. This posture will open up your chest and allow you to breathe correctly during the training.
Many people complain that their knees get sore from the impact of running on the street. However, this you can quickly learn how to run on a treadmill without hurting knees or other joints. When you land, remove the foot strike by leading with the ball of your foot, rather than the heel. Using this form will help preserve your knees, ankles, and hips for any unnecessary inflammation or pain.
Running on a Treadmill vs. Running on the Road
Which is the better form of running? Most road runners tend to agree that running on a treadmill is not as effective as running on the road. When you are running on a fixed surface such as the road, the force of your legs propel your body forward. However, when you are running on the treadmill, the track is coming toward you, and you are just lifting your legs up as the ground moves underneath you.
Therefore; road-runners say that you can never get the same workout on a treadmill that you can on the road. However, those that have used a treadmill, on a steep incline, with a high speed, will know that it provides a challenging workout.
Whether you run on the road, or on a treadmill, the important thing is to approach your training with the right commitment and intensity to produce results. Train with the road, or with a treadmill, it’s all your personal preference at the end of the day.
A Beginner’s 30-Minute Treadmill Workout
Starting off as a beginner requires a slow and steady approach to your treadmill training. The best workout structure for a beginner involves walking at a brisk pace, followed by intervals of jogging and walking.
It is a simple and effective starting point that will bring results in just a few weeks. The goal of the beginner program is to help your body get used to the stresses of running while keeping the joints pain-free and mobile.
Follow this workout for the first two weeks of your training program and then make adjustments depending on your results.
- The Warm-up (10 minutes)
Stretch and get the blood flowing as mentioned previously.
- First jog interval (3 minutes)
Once you are warm, turn up the pace to around 3.5 to 4 mph. Don’t push too hard during the first interval; the goal is to become comfortable with moving at speed and focusing on engaging your core while maintaining the correct posture.
- Active Recovery with Walking (2 minutes)
Get your heart rate back under control by controlling your breathing. Take a sip of water if you need it.
- Second Jogging Interval (3 minutes)
Repeat as directed above.
- Active Recovery with walking (2 minutes)
- Third Jogging interval (3 minutes)
Push yourself for the final jogging interval. Make sure that you are not losing form. Try to train in front of the mirror if you can; this will help you get another perspective on your running form.
- The Cool Down (5 – 10 minutes)
Every good workout should end with a cool-down session. A cool down will help your muscles and cardiovascular system return to rest and avoid cramping. Back off to a slow walk for two minutes and then stretch out your legs before you hit the showers.(3)
Nutrition for Treadmill Workouts
Nutrition is just as important as your treadmill training. The food we eat is the fuel for our workouts, so eat a diet filled with nutritious foods. Eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you can and avoid processed foods that create inflammation in your GI tract.
Focus on leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit, lean proteins and whole grain carbohydrate sources. Try and eat free-range and organic wherever you can to ensure that your food choices are rich in fiber vitamins and minerals.
Never train when you are dehydrated. Studies have shown that dehydration can affect sports performance by up to 60%. Ensuring that you are adequately hydrated will prevent muscle cramping and fatigue.(4)
The Home Stretch
A treadmill can give you a fantastic workout if you know how to use the equipment and understand how to train on it effectively. Try to perform the beginner workout three times a week until you feel stronger and ready to advance in your treadmill training. Remember to log your progress with your treadmill workouts in a journal and review it weekly. Adjust your training and advancement of your workouts based on your past performance and results.