Couch to 5K
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Treadmill speeds - accurate?

Hello all, hope you are all doing well.

My question is, how accurate do you think treadmill speeds are? I know a lot of you say you run quicker on the treadmill, but after doing the whole programme on one, I've done about a dozen outside runs now with still 2 treadmill runs a week, and find I am much much 'quicker' outside.

Do you think you run differently on a treadmill? For instance, could it be my stride making a difference? I am a long legged thing, so maybe my stride is longer in the freedom of the great outdoors, but restricted on a machine? Just curious if anyone has ever read anything on this.

For record's sake, I run on about 1.5%-2.5% gradient on the treadmill after reading about how everyone found it easier in prep for outside running, and have never really changed it as that is what I'm used to now. On the treadmill I run at "7.5kmph" and get terribly hot and out of breath if I attempt to up it, whilst outside it's closer to 9kmph (yet to break that 30min 5km barrier!!)

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I wouldnt worry at this point, but I do recommend running outdoors as it has so many other benefits than that machine can give, and well done :)

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It's not safe to in my area whilst it is still dark and it is still dark when I leave in the morning and when I get home at night, so I am restricted to only 1 run a week outside at the weekends. Saying this, I also do love the treadmill running as I find it very meditative, and it is still running. Not worried per se, just curious.

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ah yes best to be cautious, I really get that. The days are getting longer now which is so good ...!!

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Yes definitely! I am getting a bit sick and tired of the cold now too.

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Are you running uphill outside?

I don't use a tready, but my understanding is that, yes, people run differently on them than they do outside. I was just having a quick look at this video yesterday, you might find it useful:

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Yes some steep uphills on my runs outside, some downhills (I tend to go back on myself or in loop so it sort of evens out) but my pace is consistent on average per km. Sorry the video is coming up with an error, do you have a link to it?

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Should be ok now...

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I struggled to keep up 10kph on the treadmill, which of course equates to 5k in 30 minutes. My outdoor pace is higher, with my last 5k time at 28 minutes. I have no idea why it is so much harder on the treadmill!

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So it's not just me! Everyone else seems to say they are quicker on the treadmill.

Also, congrats on that time!

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No, it's not just you. Maybe it's because you have to keep up a constant speed unless you keep messing about with the controls, whereas outdoors your speed varies. The other thing with the treadmill is that it is mind numbingly boring!

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Aww I like it! Repetition is good for a bit of low level meditation

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Maybe it's just because I use the one at work, which just looks out of a window at an industrial estate...........

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At least you have a view, I just have to create fake rivalries with other gym members if I'm really struggling for motivation

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Lol 😂

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It's not just you, I'm slower on the treadmill as well. I usually run outside but have been forced to use my treadmill lately due to extreme weather. I find treadmill runs much harder.

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I wonder if there is something about improper form being common on a treadmill to make it seem harder for us?

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It's a good thought. I find I'm often stepping on the front of the machine and my right knee has been sore after running on the treadmill but not outside. I don't think I overstride outside, but maybe I do on the treadmill?

I had really hoped to finally get outside today but the wind is just howling again. I'll give it a couple hours, but I think I'm going to be a hamster on the wheel again today 🙁

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I feel really restricted on the dreadmill and take much shorter steps, with the results that I get brief knee pain. Im a long legged thing too and cant stretch out on my little dreadmill. It really is just for impossible outside conditions (like tomorrow probably).

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I did the whole programme on the treadmill in our works gym and then started running outdoors (1st time in 25 years) and surprised myself with how quick I was :-)

Like you I still do 2 treadmill runs a week (speed work, intervals etc) and I've given up trying to understand all the differences between the indoors and out.

BUT... if I do a steady 5-10k indoors, I get increasingly warmer & sweaty, my heart rate steadily rises (trying to cool me down) and consequently I feel increasingly uncomfortable and the the run feels harder and harder. One of the reasons for this is that indoors you are not moving through fresh air/breeze wind, which when outdoors, helps to keep you comparatively cooler by evaporating away your sweat/perspiration, so that your body temperature doesn't increase as quickly. I can see this by looking at my heart rate on steady outdoor 5-10k runs where my heart rate remains reasonably constant.

Cheers

John

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I do get very warm on the treadmill. I didn't know heart rate even played a factor however. Thanks for the info!

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Increased heart rate is a reaction by the body to try and cool you down. It's a measure of your "uncomfortable-ness". So the main difference between ourdoors and treadmill is the prescence (or lack of) cooling air!

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As for pure speed differences, I have always thought that there is less effort required per stride on a treadmill (so easier/faster), given that the ground is moving underneath you and is effectively propelling you forward.

So "7.5 km/h" on a treadmill (incline at 0%) would feel easier than same speed outdoors (on the flat). And you'd be able to run, say, 1km, quicker on a treadmill than outdoors.

But run for any lengthy period and the warming-up factor comes into play (see above) and treadmill starts to feel harder.

From here: runnersworld.com/for-beginn... (I pretty much follow what they suggest for treadmill/outdoor running).

"Running on the treadmill is easier than running outdoors, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that the treadmill belt assists leg turnover, making it easier to run faster. So most runners find that their pace on the treadmill doesn’t correlate to their road pace. "

And an interesting BBC article by the brilliant and ever reliable Michael Mosley:

bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-353...

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See, this is where I start to get confused, as it just doesn't seem easier to me. I'm not sure I could get up to the speeds I do outside, let alone maintain it, or indeed exceed it. Wondering if I just have completely terrible form on the treadmill for some reason, or if it is actually really inaccurate when it comes to providing an accurate speed

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How long are your treadmill runs typically? If over 15-20 mins then it probably feels harder because of the warming up effect.

Your form won't be *that* different to outside. Inaccurate? Nah - treadmills are calibrated so that "7.5 km/h" is actually 7.5 - or very close to it.

But don't stress about it! Most important thing is that you're doing both which can only be a good thing :-)

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Five minute brisk walk warm-up, 30-35 minute run, five minute warm down. At no point in that time could I get close to the speeds I do outside

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