By: Rachael Ostroff

Photo by Trevor Swann

The fear of treadmills spans a broad range of fitness levels. Whether you are new to fitness or a seasoned athlete, at the surface, treadmills just seem insane. If you hate running, why would you pick a treadmill over a bike or an elliptical? If you like running, why would you not be outside?

Yet there are tons of people who run on treadmills. We see them all the time! So there must be something compelling about them, right?

Here’s some insight into the treadmill lover’s mind:

  1. You can always back off the treadmill (carefully)

The first point on treadmills is that they are usually located in the midst of other cardio machines. This means that if the first two minutes are terrible, you can always stop the treadmill and leave it for your old cardio comfort zone. This knowledge should provide comfort in itself.

  1. You are allowed to walk on the treadmill, and you are also allowed to go full out

There are no rules against walking on treadmills (but try to limit any time on cardio machines to 30 minutes if someone is glaring at you waiting for it). If you are new to running, it is highly recommended to ease in with walking breaks anyways.

A mix of your fastest running for a few consecutive minutes with walking or slow jogging in between is a far better overall workout anyway.

  1. The great thing about the treadmill is, you can easily be your own trainer

While you can always stop or turn down the treadmill, you can also maintain whatever pace you set out for yourself from the get-go. It sounds obvious, but its implications are pretty cool.

I spent the entire indoor season last year doing treadmill intervals in my basement. Come summer, I had shaved two minutes off my 5 kilometre time.

I did this by playing around with the different treadmill levels, seeking out the programmed speed that would correspond to my goal pace per kilometre. Once I found that speed, I would run at that level for intervals of five minutes, then ten minutes, then fifteen, etc. Eventually that just became my running speed.

It may not be for everyone, but I genuinely liked the blend of intuition and elementary school math. The boredom factor was significantly reduced, and I would even say the experience was fun.

  1. Running on a treadmill can be just as effective as running outside

When running outside, your legs push through wind resistance and usually a mix of slight inclines to propel you forward. While treadmills shelter their users from these standard outdoor running realities, research has shown that setting the treadmill to a one per cent grade accurately reflects the energy costs of outdoor running. So make a habit of setting the incline to one as soon as you get on.

  1. It can be just as entertaining than outdoor running, if not more

Treadmills are usually located near televisions, and watching TV is the most obvious distraction from what you may consider treadmill purgatory. The contained environment also enables listening to music and/or recorded lectures from class. Its a great place to refresh yourself on study cue cards, as well. Why not?

Call me crazy, but I actually cherish the treadmill for its safe space—free of stop lights and ice patches and unruly young children lacking spatial awareness in my running path. Mindless activity is really underrated.

So embrace the treadmill, people. And, as always, have fun running!

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