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Covering New Ground: The Indoor Runner

I have to say, a couple of months ago I broke down and bought a new treadmill. It was the dead of winter and I need a way to get my running in without killing my lungs. I was a little skeptical on what one to buy and this treadmill review site helped me make my decision. They had some nice reviews that really helped me.

Fortunately, treadmills can be used in ways that just about mimic road running when desired and they also offer some benefits over outdoor training.

Tilt Your Treadmill

Diehard outdoor runners are quick to point out that outdoor running presents important natural challenges. For example, wind resistance can force runners to exert more energy. The gap in energy expenditure is further widened by the treadmill's motion: its moving belt helps to propel a runner along.

To overcome this gap and mimic the effect of running on flat pavement, simply set the treadmill to a 1% incline. A 1996 study published in the Journal of Sports Science suggests that the 1% grade makes up the difference in energy expenditure. Of course, if you normally run on a steeper grade outside, then the treadmill should be adjusted accordingly. Most treadmills manufactured today feature incline options of up to 12%, and some even offer a slight decline.

Take the Controls

Treadmill running lets users precisely control their speed and incline with the touch of a button. By varying these factors throughout your run, you can simulate the outdoor conditions that many runners say naturally deliver better results. Even slight changes in incline can make a big difference in calorie expenditure and muscle toning. Changing speed on a treadmill even just for 30 seconds at a time helps train the heart much as someone might when sprinting up a hill or dashing across the street.

In addition to using the controls to mimic outdoor conditions, you can improve upon nature by using your treadmill's interval training program. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is an excellent way to overcome the achievement plateaus that regular walkers and runners inevitably encounter. HIIT has the dual benefits of tapping stored fuel and training the heart. That's because it activates fast-twitch muscle fibers instead of the slow-twitch fibers that are associated with steadier exercise routines.

Enjoy the Perks

In addition to offering precise interval training and speed adjustments, treadmills provide a number of advantages over outdoor running:

  1. Audiovisual entertainment When running outside, it's generally not safe to become lost in a song. But indoor running is hopefully removed from the dangers of traffic, muggings, and other hazards. Treadmill users can safely get caught up in songs and other entertainment and the distraction helps them to exercise for longer.
  2. Personal training Real-life personal training is expensive, but virtual training is made affordable with treadmills. Technology such as iFit by ICON Health and Fitness lets users virtually work out with famous trainers.
  3. Simulated hotspots Modern technology is merging the great outdoors with treadmill training. Using Google Maps data and wireless Internet connections, NordicTrack and other treadmills today let users virtually hike through Central Park and other popular tourist destinations. Treadmills automatically adjust to mimic real-life terrain.

With the right treadmill and a bit of workout wisdom, I think it is easy to reap many benefits of outdoor training inside your own gym.