Please tread on me: a shared look at what’s best in the world of treadmills

IMG_8846.jpgHere at We Run and Ride, we received an invitation to share information about a study done on treadmills. So I skimmed through the material and right away found information that intrigued me. The comparison between outdoor running and training on a treadmill has always been something I’ve been curious about. So this bit of insight jumped out:

It takes a 2 percent grade on a treadmill to approximate outdoor running.

Motorized treadmills pull their users forward instead of requiring the runner to propel themselves. In order to compensate for the treadmill’s momentum, NSCA strength and conditioning coach Derek Zahler suggests you “adjust the running surface to a 1 percent incline to execute your workout.”

And then bump it up one more. Running outside comes with wind resistance and environmental pressure, so running on the treadmill requires less energy. “Athletes training on a treadmill can compensate for this discrepancy by adding another [percentage point] of running surface incline,” he added.

Then I noticed a bit of informaton about shock absorption, which is something I’ve always wondered about as well.

“Running on a treadmill may have the advantage of absorbing some of the shock/loading to the joints, but it’s still impact exercise. Biomechanical abnormalities will, just like when you run outside, become apparent quickly with impact and repetitive motion. Low back, hips, knees, and feet will get almost just as much loading.”

Seana KatzChiropractor at Katz Chiropractic in Boulder, Colorado
That’s really true. Which is why investing a little time in figuring out the best treadmill for your needs is a wise investment. 
Both of these subjects are more important than you might think. We all know it’s not always easy to train on a treadmill. There’s the potential boredom of running indoors but also the performance of the machine in general. Thus knowing a couple “insider tips” such as what it takes to emulate outdoor running is helpful. So is being wise to the relative shock absorption of specific machines. 
Ahead of the game
My wife and I already purchased a Sole F63 for Christmas. Sole is a good brand with a reputation for reliability. For about $899 we got a machine that is the lowest on the totem pole of treadmills offered by Sole but a decent machine overall.

Granted, our Sole is not listed as one of the top brands in the linked study of top treadmills, but the reviews of our Sole were generally favorable on Amazon and other sites. Let’s face it, unless you spend absolute top-end on a treadmill, a bike or a set of top-ranked running shoes, there is always potential for a compromise on the features you are getting. 
But not everyone needs the top-ranked everything in this worldWe all know an entry-level Subaru is not going to have the bells and whistles of a decked out Outback with the seat heaters and leather seats. But if you like a reliable car, it’s hard to argue with the benefits of even the basic vehicle. 
Conditional use
IMG_8848.jpgSo that’s our philosophy. My wife used the hell out of the treadmill we have now. It slips in the belt and we’ve had it serviced, but it was time to get a new one after years of use. She runs on it early in the morning and late at night when conditions outside are dark, cold or otherwise miserable. She’s even come inside on really hot days to finish long runs if the humidity sets off her exercise asthma. 
If you’re in the market for a treadmill or any other product from bike seats to swim goggles, it is wise to read up on the options and find out is likely to work for you. Recently I purchased a nice knee band that works perfectly to hold my popping bit of knee cartilage together. Sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes we don’t. 
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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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