Why You Should Love Treadmill Running

by Sally O'Sullivan on Jan 17, 2024

Why You Should Love Treadmill Running

If you’re generally an outdoor runner, new to running, or someone who has never felt that running is their thing, it stands to reason that you might not currently be keen on using a treadmill.

Perhaps it feels alien to you, maybe you prefer to have fresh air on your face, or maybe you’re just not sure about running on a part of moving machinery.

But there are several good reasons why the treadmill could become your new best friend. Here’s why you might find that it not only suits you but is something you look forward to using.

  1. It’s easy to track and see improvements.

A treadmill is a great way to see the fruits of your labour pay off. Granted, a sports watch or tracker will also show you whether you’ve become faster or more efficient. But with a treadmill, you can easily see the miles or kilometres tick off right in front of your eyes. That’s incredibly satisfying, whether you’re improving a 10k, 5k run, or 2-3k walk.

However, speed isn’t the only metric a treadmill can help you with…

  1. You can improve your running cadence.

Your running cadence is the tempo of your stride, measured in steps per minute (SPM). It’s a part of technique that’s often overlooked, even by experienced runners. A higher cadence is considered to be between 165-180 STM and is associated with better running efficiency and reduced risk of injury.

Running on a treadmill can help you develop a higher cadence by allowing you to set your pace e.g. 10kph, then practice using a higher foot turnover without increasing that pace.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Increase it gradually – set a pace, then increase your cadence while running it in one to two runs per week to start with, or for short periods during each run.
  • Imagine running on hot lava; this will automatically make you speed up your foot turnover.
  • Use shorter strides, particularly if you have long legs.
  • Listen to music with a fast beat. Drum n’ Bass is great for this, as it sits around 175bpm.
  1. It’s a safe way to run when it’s dark.

If you need to run either early in the morning or after you finish work, then running in the dark isn’t top of most peoples’ agendas; especially if you’re female.

Working out safely should always be a consideration. Knowing you can run from the security of your own home or gym goes a long way towards helping you get the most out of the sport.

  1. It can be kinder on the joints.

If you’re keen to help counteract the impact of running, it’s good to know that plenty of the best treadmills have features to make it more comfortable.

The top two features to look for when selecting a treadmill are:

  • A well-cushioned belt to help soften the impact on your joints.
  • A spacious deck - in both length and width - to accommodate all stride lengths and running gaits.
  1. You can do a guided run

No matter what your experience, doing a guided run can help you train smarter and get more enjoyment out of your session. Many good treadmills now feature a menu of guided runs, which are an excellent training tool. Here’s why:

  • For beginners, a guided run is perfect. It’s programmed for you, gives technique points, it’s usually done to good music and makes the whole experience very enjoyable. Instructors will obviously all have different styles, but a good coach will give clear direction on how to gauge the right speeds for you, how each pace should feel, the effort level you should be giving, what to expect throughout the workout, and generally make you feel motivated and enthusiastic to train.
  • For more experienced runners, those following a programme, or people needing to complete a set distance each week, guided runs can offer a way to mix up training, keep it interesting, distract from the potential boredom of clocking off those miles, and further running knowledge. Once you find an instructor whose style you like, ticking all your boxes will never feel like a chore.
  • For all runners, guided runs will put you ‘in the zone,’ A.K.A. the flow state. This is when you feel at peak performance, fully engaged, relaxed, and focused. Guided runs and flow state go hand-in-hand, because they’re both aimed at achieving self-awareness and focus. 

If you consider what you’ve experienced when running by yourself, you might find that flow state is rare. For example, you may start out too fast, get tired quickly, then find it difficult to regulate your pace through the rest of the run which distracts you from enjoyment. Occasionally, you’ll find yourself in that magic zone, but with guided runs, you should feel flow almost every single session.