Tornado warnings and driving rain. Late soccer practice for the kids. A business trip and a hotel in the office park from hell. Blistering temperatures outside.
While the hard-man, run-outside-at-any-cost lifestyle may seem tempting in those rain-soaked, muddy-but-triumphant photos in magazines, the reality is often a lot less seductive. And that’s when running indoors takes on a certain appeal.
Running on a treadmill may seem unsexy and drab — something nonathletes do as penance for eating doughnuts on the weekend. But running on the treadmill — with no distractions, no variations in terrain and no bad weather to stop you — can actually be your partner in training, a tool to perfect your run. Here are four strategies to keep in mind.
1. Dial in Your Cadence
There is an optimal cadence for everyone, though it may vary slightly for each runner. Aiming for a cadence of 170 — 85 strides per minute — might be the best place to start for smooth, efficient running. And a treadmill may just be the best place to hone your technique. A 2015 Harvard University study analyzed variations in cadence using 14 runners of different heights and weights. Researchers monitored participants as they ran on a treadmill at paces ranging from 75–95 strides per minute. At 85 strides per minute, the runners were the most metabolically efficient and found the optimal balance between harsh braking forces and maximum hip-flexor movement mid-stride.
Not sure of your current cadence? UA SpeedForm® Gemini 2 Record Equipped sneakers actually record as you run and send the data to your phone. Using the record-keeping sneakers with a treadmill to eliminate outside variables can help you work to dial in that cadence and find your perfect balance of fast, smooth and efficient. Once you know how that feels, you can take it outside and crush your next run.
2. Don’t Miss Miles
Data lovers might struggle with the “if a tree falls in the woods” conundrum: Without tracking your run via GPS, does it even count as a run? But for those tracking runs with MapMyRun, don’t worry: Your UA SpeedForm® Gemini 2 Record-Equipped sneakers can actually keep track of how far you’ve run — with or without your phone on hand — and sync with the app so you don’t miss a single step. Even if you’re reporting to yourself (and not a coach), having all of your run data at your fingertips will help you improve over time — and let you keep track of all the miles you’ve earned on the treadmill.
3. Nail Your Intervals, Learn Your Pacing
If you’re new to running and can’t detect your pace naturally, a treadmill can help you learn how an 8-minute mile feels versus a 7-minute pace. Developing that skill inside can translate to hitting your numbers when you get outside, since you’ll know how your body feels going hard or going easy. And running outside without a track to measure distance and set pace can make running intervals more of a fartlek compared with the accuracy of pace and time that you can hit on a treadmill — if you have a short, hard workout to do, running inside can dial in those numbers and eliminate the guesswork (and the time spent stopped staring at your watch or phone to sort out split times).
Gym treadmills make doing quick warmups, cooldowns and mid-strength session repeats much simpler than running outdoors — and much more sport-specific than pausing to jump rope or hop on the elliptical. Those strides add up and (bonus) can help boost your weekly mileage. And let’s be honest: Sometimes you just need to spend some extra time on things you simply can’t do outdoors. On a treadmill, it’s easier to get in a quick FaceTime convo or catch up on the news while you rack up your weekly mileage. With Gemini 2 Record Equipped, tracking your run — indoors or out — is a seamless, hassle-free experience every time. Just lace up your shoes and start running.
Nothing can replace the feeling of wind in your hair as you rush down a smooth road by a raging river or the skittering of rocks as you race down a technical trail — sprints outside are just plain fun, and the thrill of outdoor exercise is hard to beat. But for the times when you simply don’t have a choice, don’t skip out on the treadmill: Think of it as your training buddy who may not be the most fun, but who just wants you to succeed by dialing in your numbers perfectly.