Road vs. Treadmill - Result!

I began running in May this year when we bought a treadmill, doing 2.5-3k runs and building up to 10k in the last few weeks. I started running outside 2 months ago doing hills/sprint/jog round the park once a week, but the bulk of my training was on the treadmill set on at least 2% incline. The only actual road I had done was one 3k.

My 10k treadmill time (2%) a week ago was 44:50. Yesterday I did the Southend 10k (out and back) in 46:47. I was really pleased with my pacing which was virtually spot on 4:30/km as I had intended by halfway, was feeling ok and was fairly confident I could hang on to finish in 45-ish. But then when we got back onto the seafront the winds had started, and blowing straight into us all the way back! I started to tire at 6-7k (I do on the treadmill too) but with the winds was unable to hang on. It was equivalent to going along (treadmill) at 2% then at halfway someone coming along and turning it up to 3%.

My verdict is that road is equivalent to 2% treadmill, but only if the weather conditions are ideal. Forget boredom/lack of scenery etc, when it hurts that much, nothing helps.

The next race for me is Brighton 10k towards the end of Nov. Same out and back. I really want to achieve 45 mins but I realise the conditions at that time of year probably won't be great. I intend to do 10k's on 2/3% combination, progressing onto 3%. I will also do intervals/hills both on the treadmill and in the park at the weekend, weather permitting. I want to get over getting tired at 6-7k. I think my legs let me down the most. Advice needed please.


  • A few points:

    (1) I personally wouldn't do my treadmill running at an incline of 2%, because I think that starts to become significant enough to affect your running style; I use 1%, which I think is fairly typical (and thought to eliminate the effect o lack of wind resistance).

    (2) In some ways I find treadmill running harder, because of the heat - my HR travels upwards far quicker on a t/m than outdoors.

    (3) To give yourself the endurance to keep going to the end of the 10K you need to run long runs (well over 10K), at easy and steady speeds. That sort of running should be the major component of your week's training. Try and increase your longest run by a mile a week through October

    Very best of luck at Brighton.
  • why can't you train outside now? maybe the treadmill served its purpose of breaking you in gently, as it were, but as JFB says you really ought to get out there and do some longer runs, eg 8-10 miles.

  • Well done on your race Jenny - that's an excellent time !!

    I do think that 1% gives me similar results vs outside though - at least it does at our gym.

    3% will surely be too much and hamper your training. If you are going to race outside - you should practice at least some of it outside. Technique and tactics can only be done outside really - you can't hide behind anyone on a treadmill, but you can do it outside.

    The only time I got shinsplints was after I spent 15 mins walking on a treadmill with a high gradient. So now I avoid the incline stuff on there.

    As JFB says too- the heat is a problem for me - I can only do about 10k inside before I melt.
  • Yes I will try to do more outside. Twice round the park would be about 10k, lots of hills and grass. I'll only be able to do that if I don't do sprints because that is tough. That's only possible at weekends, weekdays now it starts getting dark early and I won't run in the dark! Cold and wet don't appeal either.

    I have found 1% treadmill ineffective and unrealistic. I would be able to do 10k in about 43 on that - no way for real.

    I know I should be upping my distance and probably will do sometime, but I don't feel ready for it yet, it was only about 3 weeks ago I upped it to 10k from 8k. So 8-10 miles fills me with dread at the mo!

    Cougie, I tried walking on the treadmill once on a high incline, did my hips in so I gave up on that. Running is much easier.
  • JennyD - interesting about the difference between your road and treadmill 10k times. I have read that 1% is about equivalent; in fact, for me, for anything more than about 30 mins or running I would much rather run the equivalent session outside (eg marathon - I did FLM in 2:50, which is 6:29 per mile, or about 9.3mph; there is no way I could run for 2:50 at 9.3 mph on a treadmill, even at 0 gradient). Likewise for 10k, I can just about replicate my 10k pb on a treadmill at 0% gradient. I think I may be bad at dealing with the heat and the boredom of treadmill running; in contrast I think the fact that you can run so much faster on a treadmill suggests that you have problems dealing with running outside at race pace. I would suggest some 20-30 min tempo runs outside to get you used to running hard outdoors for extended periods.
  • Huw, excuse my ignorance - what are tempo runs?

    I think one of the reasons could be that when it starts hurting, I prefer to look at numbers and watch them ticking down than into the distance and thinking oh sod it.
  • Agree. I think 1% = road runs. But training at a higher incline can only improve stamina and unlike some of the other posts I don't see how this is detrimental even if it does mean a different running style.
    Does your trewadmill have a 10k programme that gives a run with changing inclines?
    Agree re boredom point but it does mean ALL your treadmill runs are hard which can be demorilising.I certainly miss the company of clubmates and being outdoors. But Winter is so cold!.
  • Jenny I think that you are being a little hard on yourself (and your treadmill) to say that your indoor training has been ineffective and unrealistic - for starters 46 minutes for 10k is a very decent time considering you've only run as far as 2 miles on the road!

    Also most runners will tell you that when its windy you can all but forget about PBs. Whereas with snow torrential rain freezing cold - if you are on form you can do a PB or close to your best. As soon as there is a fair old headwind your pace takes a battering and your heartrate will jump taking you into lactic zone. That's probably one good reason to have a bit of speedwork in your training.

    I speak from a fair bit of experience and can tell you that I find a gradient of 2.5%-is equal to outside running IN NO MORE THAN A LIGHT BREEZE. I can run 10k at 16kmh (ie 6min/miling) on the treadmill at a gradient of 1% and could hold a conversation all the way BUT outside where I live (which is as v. flat) on a measured 10k route (cycle computer measured and car) in fairly calm weather I would have to concentrate very hard to maintain 6 min miling pace all the way around.

    I disagree with JFB about an incline of 3% affecting your running style. I would actually say that an incline will require a running action more similar to that outside because you are forced to work your quadriceps more. Also an incline will reduce 'footslap' where following your heel striking the ground the rest of the foot makes contact. This is the primary cause of most lower leg problems like shin splints.

    So I would say keep on with the treadmill training - you can't beat it for measuring your own progress and thats invaluable when you are trying to work out how things are going. I am going to stick my neck out and say that if you can run 10k on the treadmill at an incline of 2.5% in 44.50 you will be able to replicate that on the road in a race providing you have done at least one run a week of 6 miles outside.

  • forgot one proviso: and as long as its fairly calm on race day!
  • Well done Jenny, I'm impressed - and I think your race time was excellent, so don't be too hard on yourself.

    I also started running not long ago following the birth of my son a year ago (gobbins of weight to lose, huge big baggy post-caesarian tum to deal with). I was feeling quite pleased with my progress on the treadmill (am now able to run for 53 mins, just over 9km) til I read your email, which way, way outstrips me. I am feeling quite crestfallen, and am re-considering my wild thoughts of doing a 10k race in December! Would like to be running outside but I am
    a) stuffed by lack of childcare (gym creche is a godsend)
    b) psychologically struggling with the leap from the safety of my treadmill to running around my local park
    c) worried that an old problem with my back will re-surface (it's caused me problems running outside some years ago)

    Ho hum, I'll just have to keep reading the emails and living vicariously. Still, I'd love to do a race...
  • Helen, congrats on your efforts, however you can't compare yourself to me - I haven't just had a baby! I understand totally how you feel about running outside, looking at numbers is one thing but seeing it for real, it's like...gulp, how far?!? I suggest for your 1st few outings don't take your watch with you and just go. I have the perfect excuse for not timing my runs round the park, it's not a measured distance, just a guess.

    JRM, thanks, that is really helpful. I can get out once a week (round the park) and will do some distance work now rather than the sprints/jogs. I'll start off doing 2 laps with a break (about 10k), because I don't think I can last 2 laps without stopping, then I'll progress onto 2 laps non stop and probably more. By the way, it was 2% on the treadmill not 2.5...noooo :o/

    I forgot to mention earlier that my 3k road time is much faster than my treadmill (2%) possibly the same as 1% Why????

    There are lots of different programs on the treadmill we have and we can do our own. I find it very good for hills/intervals - 14kph and 8% ha ha!

    I am reluctant to do 10k on the road here as we live on top of a hill and any run would involve a relentless 3-4k uphill finish. Still, Southend was my 1st 10k road run and race so a pb then? I'll beat that next time, just got to get more used to the distance.
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