They say you should write about what you know. Right now I know a lot about running on a treadmill. It’s where I’ve done the bulk of my running for the past 3 months. Treadmill running isn’t something I’m passionate about and I’m pretty certain I would never say that I preferred treadmill running but at the same time I’ve never quite understood why some people take such offence at the idea of another person using a treadmill as part of their running regime. 

For me nothing quite beats a run outside, breathing in the fresh air and getting a healthy dose of vitamin D thrown in for free but the next time someone incredulously asks you why you ran on a treadmill here’s some possible reasons you might want to consider giving them.

1. It’s convenient/efficient

Okay, so assuming you use a treadmill at the gym then it’s not especially convenient as you’ve probably got to get in your car and drive there before you can actually start your run. Once you’re there though you can get your run done and then get doing some strength work or cross training or if you’re training for a triathlon you can easily combine a run with some training in one of the other disciplines. At the minute I’m trying my best to fit in some strength training as well as my running and realistically I don’t have enough free evenings to do these in separate sessions. Doing a run on the treadmill, followed by a session on the weights in the gym is about the only way I can fit them both in.

If you’re recovering from injury the treadmill can be a great help as you can get on it and start running, then if you start to feel a niggle your run can end there without the worry that you’re going to have to walk the rest of your journey home with an injury. Over the past few years I’ve suffered from various injuries and when I’m building the miles back up I never know for sure how successful it’s going to be each time I go out. I often do a few runs on the treadmill on the route to recovery to make sure I’m not caught hobbling home after an abandoned run.

2. It’s dry and warm

Really this isn’t a reason to use the treadmill unless your running is purely for keeping fit. Most people who run do so with the aim of racing at some point or do so to be sociable with others. You can’t pick the weather on race day so there’s no point trying to account for it in your training. If you’re in a group you can’t let the weather get in the way of the one day a week when everyone can make it out. However, if being in the dry/warm is going to make the difference on any given day between going for a run and not going for a run then surely having the treadmill there as an option is a good thing.

3. It’s safe

I have to caveat this with the fact that I’ve never felt unsafe when running. I used to do a lot of cycling and a near accident with a bad driver was pretty much a weekly occurrence. When it comes to running, cars aren’t much of an issue and I never feel like I have much to worry about when running. However, since using twitter more regularly I’ve become aware of many horror stories of women being heckled, wolf whistled, stalked and just generally made to feel unsafe when running. I guess someone could go out of their way to be equally unpleasant in the gym but the presence of other people makes it a lot less likely. People shouldn’t be made to feel unsafe or threatened when they’re running and maybe one day they won’t but I don’t see it being an issue that’s going to be completely resolved anytime soon. A shame it has to exist as a reason but it does and it’s a very good and understandable reason to use the treadmill.

4. Being in control

I’m currently trying to build in some speed work into my training which involves running for a specific distance or time at a specific speed. If I’m going to run at a given speed I want to know that every time I run at that speed I’m exerting the same effort. I live in a rather hilly area and without careful planning I could quite easily run two intervals at the same speed but with completely different levels of ease/difficulty depending on the incline or decline. I could spend hours on Strava trying to plan the perfect route that would negate this, or I could just get on a treadmill and press a button to set things exactly as I want them.

5. It’s boring

This might not seem like a positive and it’s probably the most common reason people give for not using the treadmill but for me it can be a real positive. I would agree that the treadmill is boring and as I said earlier I would rather be outside most of the time. But if I am on the treadmill then I try to embrace the boredom and make a positive of it. Running at a pace I’m comfortable with I’ll settle in for a long run and practice what I guess some people would call mindfulness. I’ll settle in and focus on my breaths and count them as with increasing speed I breathe in and out. Or I’ll just watch the distance counter steadily creep up and count with it as it goes up. Or I’ll just pick a spot on the window or wall in front of me and stare at it whilst I let my mind wander. In one sense it can be an incredibly dull 30 minutes or so but by the time I’ve finished my run my mind feels immeasurably clearer.

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