I ask this because I had a very interesting conversation this week at the gym which made me stop and think. (In case you are wondering – this is not me, she is far too neat and tidy!)
As always it started with general chit-chat. It then got interesting.
Do you run slower on a treadmill? That got me thinking and the answer is yes I think I do. Do you? I do a warm up program on the treadmill of 1 mile at a pace of about 10. This felt ok, not easy but not that hard either. When outside I find it hard to keep at a pace as slow as this – it always creeps up to 9 / 9.30 even when I am trying to run slowly. Then when I get into my running properly I seem to run faster than that but on the treadmill it never seems to be that easy – 8.30 pace seems really fast and a lot of effort.
Hmmm so then why? (these are just hypothesis).
It’s all in the rhythm? When outside you can subtly change your pace without realising it until you find the correct running rhythm for you on that day. (It amazes me how much my pace does change and when I think I am doing well it is not always the case!) On the treadmill your pace is determined by your brain and the computer. You put a speed in and the belt moves at that pace. That means that you have to run at a consistent pace the whole time. Although the treadmill does give you an even surface with no discrepancies in it.
It’s all in the brain? When you are outside there is much to distract you, from your surroundings, ensuring your foot falls on an even surface and even your route (where you are, where are you going next etc.) On the treadmill I do have a tv with a variety of channels to watch but I wouldn’t say that I ever got totally engrossed in any of them. My mind does not wander in the same way. All I focus on is the time and pace. This then means I put focus on how I feel now and how I might feel in another 5 minutes!!
I don’t have as much contact. When running up a hill (well slope here in the fens), when I need a bit of a boost I consciously push-off my back foot a bit harder. This obviously gives me a bit of momentum with which to keep my speed up. When I tried this on the treadmill I just wasn’t able to do it as the bit of the strap was moving and so wasn’t there long enough for me to get enough purchase.
You cannot have a bit of recovery. When I reach the top of a hill I can slow down a bit. Mentally I think that it doesn’t matter and give myself a bit of flack even if in reality I speed up quite quickly. On the treadmill unless you change the speed with the button your stay at the same pace. Whenever I slow down on a treadmill I don’t seem to be able to do it for a bit and it also seems to be slower than when outside.
What goes up must come down! (and hills all have a top) Well in real life that is true. I have a couple of ‘hills’ on my route. They are not long but steep for here. When embarking on them I have a definite end (the top) and after this there is a downhill ‘reward’ or recovery. When on a treadmill the ‘top’ is not visible – just a time so there is no real reward in making yourself go faster to reach the top. Also there is no downhill afterwards.
Am I making excuses or is there any truth in any of this? I would love to know. If it is all in my head then I need to change my mental state and move on! You may have guessed that I am not a particular fan of treadmills but I do see that they have their uses.
I am wondering if this would make it easier for me! I could catch up with all the news. (and be quite sick too I suspect!)
As always to see what I have managed this week see here.