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Running on a treadmill

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Loved by some, categorically snubbed others, training on a treadmill may be a good alternative when the weather conditions are appalling. But its use may also be an option in other types of situations…

 

The specific features

It would be hard to deny that, although training on a treadmill is not ideal, it can be a smart way of breaking up certain sessions. Particularly during the winter when the temperatures go below zero and/or the bad weather makes the ground soft. A weights training session in the gym (if you have joined a fitness centre) can also provide an opportunity for a warm-up jog on a treadmill.

 

A few tips:

- Runners with delicate Achilles heels should preferably opt for a 1% incline in order to relieve the pressure on the tendons. Maintaining a very slight slope is also a smart way of minimising the advantage of training on a treadmill.

- One of the advantages of training on a treadmill is that it is very easy to take on liquids. So be sure to drink regularly – particularly for sessions exceeding 45 minutes and when you are training in a confined space (like a gym). In this way, you will get used to drinking without stopping your training session much more quickly than you would if you were running outdoors.

- Take care not to become "addicted" to running on a treadmill. Running should remain a sport that is practised outdoors on routes that are always changing in order to avoid any form of monotony.

 

The type of training

In addition to simply going for a jog to recover – often by listening to music – at a very relaxed tempo, a treadmill can be used to target certain much more ambitious goals.

Examples:

- Interval training. Like running on an athletics track, interval training on a treadmill can be used to alternate between high-intensity activity and periods of recovery. It is better to focus on the time spent exercising rather than the distance covered (for better precision) and you need to stay focused when changing speed on the treadmill.
The benefit of a treadmill: maintaining the same speed. The entire session therefore remains balanced.
 

- The train session. Whether you are preparing to run a 10 km race, half marathon or marathon, it is important to be able to memorise the target pace that will enable you to achieve your target time. On a treadmill, there are no changes in pace and this will help you to improve the standard of your workout.

The benefit of a treadmill: It improves the consistency of your exercise sessions because there are no external influences (junctions, roundabout, etc.) or changes in the slope of the terrain.

 

- Interval training on an incline. The advantage of a treadmill is that you can smooth out your exercise intensity on a regular incline. Take care not to overdo the gradient. Do not exceed 6%. It is better to extend the exercise time or the number of repetitions rather than running on too steep a gradient.

The benefit of a treadmill: unlike off-road outdoor training sessions, you can avoid descending slopes which always place a lot of stress on the tendons and quadriceps. Put the incline of the treadmill in the neutral position during the recovery period.

 

Best practices in order to be prudent

Running on a treadmill does not mean you can do without a thorough warm-up. It is important to begin each session at a calm to moderate pace (not much quicker than walking pace) and gradually increase the pace until you reach the target speed. It is also preferable to gradually slow down the speed of the treadmill over a period of a few minutes rather than making quick speed changes.

If you feel any discomfort – chest pains, excessive breathlessness, etc. – as you increase the intensity, immediately press the stop button, while making sure that your arms are bent over the horizontal bars located to each side of the treadmill.

Finally, you should be mindful of staying focused throughout the session and not get distracted by a television screen or a conversation. Falling over is relatively easy to do and can have unpleasant consequences!

 

Exercising on a treadmill can help to boost mental capacity. Once any "visual distractions" have been removed, the runner must consequently immerse himself in his own activity and find the strength to complete the session without flagging.

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