The Benefits of the Treadmill

By Vinnie Santana, online Coach, ironguides.net

The Benefits of the Treadmill

The treadmill is a very misunderstood part of the arsenal of tools available to a triathlete. Using the treadmill, you can get a better return on your training time if you learn to use it in the right way. For example, one ironguides athlete turned his two-hour long run into his 1:34 long run over the course of about a year using the treadmill for specific sets including his long run.

Most of the people I coach are encouraged to make heavy use of the treadmill, especially if they are based in big cities with limited access to good running venues. I can tell you that a few professional world champions have run almost exclusively on the treadmill for long stretches and come off running faster than ever. How does a treadmill contribute so much to improved run skills?

In basic terms, running on a flat treadmill enables you to run at the same aerobic load as on land, but to run at a faster pace for that aerobic load. Meaning: You can run faster for longer, which means you are training neuromuscular patterns to fire at a rate that equates to a faster run pace. The aerobic training component in either case is the same

What does this mean? It means you are getting more bang for your training buck. Yes, a 7min mile on a flat treadmill “feels” easier than a flat 7min mile on land — and it is — but remember that the context here is to run at the same aerobic load. If you can hold a 7:00min/mile pace on land for 20min, and you can hold a 6:50min/mile pace on the treadmill for 20min, that 20min run on the treadmill will give you the same aerobic training load but will teach your motor neurons to fire at a faster pace. Do this often enough for long enough and you are teaching your nerves to fire at a faster rate — your muscles follow suit and learn to contract at a faster rate. You run faster because you’re training more than just your aerobic system.

See also:  Ironman Malaysia recovery guidelines: Learn how to get back into training

As you come to better feel and understand the usefulness of this approach, you can come to use the treadmill then to simulate triathlon running more closely. You can make use of the gradient option, a nearby spin bike or weight machines to strip the strength from your legs and force yourself to run fast on tired legs. As long as you approach the session with the underlying goal of running with best-possible form (don’t get lazy or sloppy), you can quickly improve triathlon-specific run skills. There are all kinds of ways of doing this outside, too.

Jogging his way to good health. Full-length rear view of young man in sportswear running on treadmill in front of window at gym

By enabling you to closely control the variables (wind, gradient, surface), the treadmill lets you better monitor improvement over time and get a better feel for how your body responds to changes in your training environment: Sleep, nutrition, life stress and so on. Over time, you develop a better intuitive feeling for your training state of body and mind and as your training career progresses, you can use your past sessions to compare current treadmill performances in certain sets and immediately see where your fitness level is without having to test yourself over race distances.

So getting back to your question: Running on a flat treadmill at the same pace as on windless, flat land (hard or track or similar surface) is easier to maintain. But by inverting that standard way of perceiving the situation and asking: Does a treadmill allow me to hold a faster pace at no extra aerobic burden? you can come a step closer to making use of some great tools and structuring your training in a way that makes your training much more effective and specifically useful for triathletes.

See also:  Training : Race Day Nutrition

Enjoy your training,

Vinnie Santana

Vinnie Santana


ironguides is the leading Lifestyle Facilitation company for athletes of all abilities. We provide coaching and training services, plans and programs, as well training education, health and fitness products to help you learn and live a healthy lifestyle. Come get fit with one of our monthly training subscriptions, event-specific training plans, coaching services, or a triathlon training camp in an exotic location! ironguides also provides Corporate Health services including Corporate Triathlons, Healthy Living retreats and speaking engagements. At ironguides, your best is our business!

More info at www.ironguides.net


Train with ironguides!

Personalized Online Coaching:  Starting at USD190/month

Monthly Training plans (for all levels, or focused on one discipline): Only USD39/months

Event based training plans:

Sprint Distance (USD45 for 8-week plan)

Olympic Distance (USD65 for 12 week plan)

Half Ironman (R$95 for 16-week plan)

Ironman (USD145 for 20-week plan)

X-Terra (USD65 for 12-week plan)

Running Plans (10k, 21k and 42k – starting at USD40)

Follow us
Share this article