Treadmill running at the foot level
Credit: Wikipedia commons - US Air Force/Staff Sgt Aracali Alarcon

Treadmill running is a necessity for cold climate runners in the winter and hot climate runners in the summer.  I live in Florida.  A run workout outside in the summer requires getting out early in the morning or late in the evening.  Later sessions can even be a problem due to frequent evening thunderstorms.  Sometimes your schedule may not allow running at the most optimal time.  Here are treadmill running considerations and tips for clydesdale runners.

Test the Treadmill

Most gyms have multiple treadmills available.  I hate jumping on a treadmill for a workout and finding that the belt slips.  Heavier runners hit each step with more impact than our lighter running brethren.  Belt slippage is more likely to occur with us.  Be sure the machine you are using doesn't slip.  I find that each slip of the belt causes loss of balance that, at best, is a distraction.  At worst, you can more easily hurt yourself.

Look for machines that are newer or at least have newer belts.  As treadmills are used, the machines have to be adjusted from time to time to tighten the belts.  Older belts can reach the point in which the machine can no longer be adjusted to avoid slippage.

Concentrate on Form

Foot Falls

Keeping consistent running form can be a challenge on a treadmill.  Your foot falls differ from running on terra firma.  I find that I run more on my toes when using a treadmill.  My natural landing point is more on my heels when running on land.  Your calves and Achilles' tendon may be uncomfortable after a treadmill session unless you keep your foot falls similar to dry land workouts. 

Keep Your Hands Off the Bars

Treadmill machines always have bars on either side.  Even when you are tired, resist the temptation to have your hands on the bars.  Holding the bars generally requires hunching over in an unnatural position.  Better to slow down than using the bars for support.

Be Careful if Sprinting

I've tried doing high intensity interval training on treadmills.  This type of training requires jacking up the speed for short bursts and then slowing down.  I've found over time that I never have a problem doing these workouts on land but I tend to tweak my hamstrings when doing HIIT type workouts on a treadmill.  You can't speed up or slow down as quickly on a treadmill as you can on land and this time lag is what likely causes problems for me.  I have to stay faster longer than my hamstrings can tolerate.

Men running on treadmillsCredit: Wikipedia commons - US Navy/Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Justin Proulx


Bigger guys tend to sweat more than others.  I certainly throw off quite a bit of sweat.  If the treadmill isn't equipped with its own fan, try to pick a treadmill close to an air conditioning vent or ceiling fan.  You'll feel better during the workout and limit your mop up time afterward if you pick a machine with closer air vents or fans.

Don't be Fooled by the Elliptical Machine

The central challenge of larger runners is dealing with gravity.  We have more mass to push around the track.  You can certainly move faster by working out on an elliptical machine, but your body misses the challenge of supporting your weight while running.  The elliptical can be helpful if you're tired or otherwise not in the mood for a hard run.  Nevertheless, you can't translate your elliptical speed to actual running speed.  The muscles used on an elliptical trainer are slightly different.  The calves are not utilized nearly as much as running.

Treadmill running can be a great alternative to an outdoors workout.  Be safe and keep your form.  Get yourself race ready!

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