Treadmill = cheating?: Hello fellow-runners, I... - Couch to 5K

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Treadmill = cheating?


Hello fellow-runners,

I have a question concerning treadmills. I joined a gym 3 weeks ago and did 3 runs on the treadmill until now (the rest has always been outside in the park). The first run was ok, a bit slow (5k in 35 min something) but I had to figure out how this thing works (and I have seen enough funny videos of people falling of their treadmills to be careful). The second one was pretty good (5k in 32:53min) and I ran about half of the time at 9.3-9.5 (I guess it's km/h... not written anywhere). The last run was horrible (had to stop after 30 minutes (4k) as I suffered from house dust mite allergy for two days combined with a nice beginning cold on the day of my run.

Nevertheless, I have the feeling that a run on a treadmill is like cheating... it does a lot of the work, doesn't it? I put the incline on 1.5-2.0 to try to imitate the conditions outside. I'll also try to run not slower than 8.3 (in the first five to ten minutes of the run) and then faster than 9.0. I'm also sweating a lot during the run and feel that it's hard work but I still feel it's so much harder to run outside.

Does anyone have the same feeling? Is it just the overly self-critical sloth in me telling me that it's cheating to run on a treadmill?

Thank you for reading :)

14 Replies


I've been doing all my C25K on a treadmill, and even if it would be cheating, I know I've been improving over the whole time and I can now run much longer. Actually, I had an outside run with some colleagues right there where W9R2 would have been and even when I feared it a bit because I've just done treadmill, I must say that outside was so much easier!

So, is it cheating? Don't know. Maybe it's not _comparable_ but if you go from 0 to running 30 minutes on a treadmill, you've for sure done something good :-)



nomoreslothGraduate in reply to ArthurD

Thank you for your answer, Arthur! It's interesting how much the perception can vary :) I think it's harder outside but nevertheless it's hard work for me on the treadmill as well...

It's definitely a huge improvement to the fitness to be able to go for 30 minutes no matter whether the program was done on the treadmill or outside.

I think I will try to run outside but with ice and snow ahead of us, I'll take advantage of the treadmill. I only have to get used to it :)

Personally I think that running outside is easier. The few occasions I have run on a treadmill I have had to not only concentrate on running and breathing, but also not falling off the thing. At least outside I only have to concentrate on the first two, and the outside environment is such a distraction (looking around, aiming to get past the next tree, being suprised when I have suprised some wildlife and it runs infront of me ...

I have massive respect for anyone who can stay on a treadmill for over half an hour without falling off!!

nomoreslothGraduate in reply to unfitmum

Thank you :) Yes, it's true, the distraction outside is bigger but fortunately the treadmills are directed to the street (huge glass front windows) and as I live on the opposite side of the street and as there is a tram stop as well between my house and the gym there's always a lot happening. Neighbours coming out the house (especially a weird elderly man whom I prefer to see from a certain distance), people getting on and of the tram... Well, until now it's been interesting. I suppose it will cease when I've run on the treadmill more often.

It's funny, I have no problems to stay on the treadmill but the minute I take my first step onto the floor again is very... let's call it interesting. I try to have a longer cool down walk to get used to walking again but I always have stand still next to the treadmill and to hold on the handles for at least two minutes until I can walk again without accidents. I try to camouflage it with stretching as it is a bit embarrassing not to be able to walk straight ;)


I do all my training on the treadmill.Live in a busy place so don't want to breathe in the pollution and if I look a Wally it doesn't matter.When you come to the end of you're run,slow it right down after you're 5min cool down.I mean down to 2km, and then you won't wobble and look drunk when you get off.It was an issue for me as ,at my age 62, balance starts to become harder,but to be honest it's helped.I could not let go of the handles when I started! X

nomoreslothGraduate in reply to A1nsworth

Thank you for your answer :) I already slow down to under 1 at the end of my cool down walk and still am wobbling. Well, I know there are handles that will keep me from looking too drunk ;) I have some balance issues even in normal situations so I suppose my wobbly legs are related to this. Fortunately it happens only after the run and not while I'm on the treadmill ;)


That's good that it doesn't happen on the treadmill.I was petrified when I first went on there and wouldn't let go.Good luck for your next run. X

nomoreslothGraduate in reply to A1nsworth

Thank you :) I'll find out soon as I'm just heading off to the gym.


I've started using a treadmill at the gym as I'm off running at the mo due to my back- but I had to laugh at your comments about feeling wonky when you get off- I get this terribly too- i feel like I'm staggering about and really quite dizzy! I've read it gets better the more often you use it- I really hope so!

nomoreslothGraduate in reply to NineChooks

Thank you for your answer. I'm happy to see that other runners also feel a bit strange after a run. I'm not dizzy but my legs definitely are made of jelly ;) It was the same today but it's ok as I'm already expecting it. Today my legs had all reason to be wobbly: I did 5k in 32:12minutes (the incline was 2.0). It was a treadmill PB though, only 22 sec more than my PB outside :)

NineChooksGraduate in reply to nomoresloth

That's a great time! I'm whacking the incline up to 7 and walking about 13 minute miles- this gets my heart rate up and is kind to my back until I can run again- wah!

Newbie here:

It's weird because I do most of my sessions on a treadmill.

However, this week, I did W1S3 outside and it was sooooo much harder - I think a lot of it is due to the uneveness of the ground, but also I found it hard to know how fast I was going. On the treadmill I know that the brisk walk for me is 5.2, and the jog in 8-8.5; translating this speed to the outdoors was difficult and it felt much harder


Am i the only one who thinks running at 8.5-9.5 really fast? lol No way I could keep that up for 5k!! The one time I did the treadmill I walked at 4.5 and ran ( jogged ) at 5.5-6 for 20 mins. Are the speeds different on treadmills in Canada?!!! LOL now i feel like a total failure!!!

So glad I saw this, I've been running outside but weather gone, so invested in treadmill. I think I. Out door runner but when hubby at work and little one here. It works. Just I have to hold rail with one hand

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