Is treadmill running better than no running at all?

Is treadmill running better than no running at all?

How much better is it to run out on the road or on the trails versus running on a treadmill? If I cant manage to run outside can the treadmill be a suitable substitute for this?

Coach Parry answers today's question from our member's forum about running on a treadmill, he talks about how to get the best out of running on a treadmill if running outside is not an option.

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Is treadmill running better than no running?


Welcome back on to another edition of RUN with Coach Parry. I'm Brad Brown. We've got the coach with us once again.Today we're talking about running on a treadmill. A great question from our forums on asking if treadmill running is better than no running. We'll get into that in a moment. Lindsey, how's it's, good to have you on.

Yeah, always good to be back and that's a nice, easy question to answer.

Yeah, and there's a cool example as well, which I know you're going to use. Lindsey, let's talk about treadmills. I always joke that I say half assed is better than no assed. Is running on a treadmill better than no running at all?

Look, it's a hell of a lot better than no running at all and it's really not a bad substitute either for normal running and that's always the undercurrent of the question, is how much better is it to run out on the road or in the trails? So I am going to use two examples. The one is, of course, you've heard me use many times before, and that's Alberto Salazar, who I think won Comrades in 1994 after training almost exclusively on a treadmill.

The other is to use one of my very good friends, Patrick Cox, who we refer to as the hyena due to his not so elegant running style and ability to really hang in there and tough it out. He struggled to get a silver for many years at Comrades and then one year did almost all his training on a treadmill for one of the main reasons being that the treadmill was quite a bit softer and he'd been suffering with some injuries over the years and he managed to get in a lot of of miles, many miles running on a treadmill, and he went on to get his silver meal.

So there are more reasons to run on a treadmill than just the weather. Obviously safety is a major consideration. So people who work hours that mean that they've got to run in the dark, it's not always safe, depending on where you live and in those situations, the treadmill is a very suitable replacement. That is kind of the gist. What I do find is that you probably want to set the treadmill to 1 or 2% because that then gives you more of a sense of running on the road. But you do have to be careful not to do all of your running at 1 or 2% because that's also potentially going to cause you some, putting too much pressure on the carpal through the Achilles, so you do want to be on 0% for some of the runs and it mix up the gradient a little bit.

Of course, nowadays there are even some reasonably priced models that have downhill built into them even for your home type of treadmill. So it really is a very suitable replacement for training out on the road.

And one of the big benefits too, Lindsey, is running on a treadmill mentally makes you really tough. I remember training for my first couple of Comrades, I had to do quite a quite a few sessions on the treadmill. And it hurts. I mean, mentally, it's just really tough. If you get through a two hour or three hour run on a treadmill, that in my mind makes you really strong mentally.

I would say that for me, that would be very difficult. So if I had to do more than 20 minutes on a treadmill, I do struggle. I guess it's like most things in life, if I persisted with it, perhaps I would get better at it. But like you say, it really does teach you a bit of mental resilience because you've got to keep yourself on the treadmill.

Patrick always used to tell me that part of the reason why it suited him was that he could spread out a little table of goodies, little jelly beans and water and drinks and some Ghost Pops. Then he could help himself to his array of snacks while he was just running in the lounge watching something interesting on the TV. But yes, mentally makes you very tough spending a lot of time just running in one place and staring at a TV or a wall.

The funny thing is that at that time I didn't have a DSTV subscription, I don't have now either, but back then I used to go to my local gym on a Saturday afternoon so I could watch Super Rugby and I used to watch two games back to back or whatever it was while running on the treadmill so I killed two birds with one stone which was fantastic. Lindsey, as always great to catch up. Don't forget if you have any questions head over to, we'll give you a free seven day trial right now, you can hop into the forums, get your questions answered and we'd love to have you in there.

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