I've been slowly making my way through C25K and am currently on week 5. I usually run in my neighborhood with my dog, but last week I went out of town and continued my routine on a treadmill. Today was my first day running back home and I feel like I've taken a huge step backwards. Running on the treadmill seemed so much easier and I suspect this was because I was taking better strides. I felt more confident on the treadmill because my pace was controlled, and it just seemed like I was able to put myself in the right alignment and posture when I didn't have to worry about propelling myself forward. I think things fall apart for me when I run in the neighborhood because I'm too afraid of running too fast and tiring out, not to mention accommodating for the irregularities of the landscape, tripping over dog, kids, whatever. So, here are my questions:
What is the ideal technique for running, especially in terms of posture and stride? I feel like I'm shuffling along more than anything, my understanding is that this takes more energy than bending your knees and taking a good step forward.
What can I do to improve my technique and avoid cultivating bad habits?
Is it better to run on a treadmill?
I don't have any answers for you...sorry....but I just wanted to say that I too have been running around my neighborhood but ran on the treadmill today since it was raining. Let me tell you that I am sore tonight! I felt like my form was horrible on the treadmill....
I certainly prefer running outside, but when weather does not allow, the treadmill is an o.k. substitute for me (apparently not today though).
Again, sorry I don't have the answers for you but will be interested in seeing what others will say about this.
when I was in track in high school, my track coach always told me to move my arms straight forward and backward while I ran as well as to lengthen my stride. not sure if this is elaborate enough for you or whether that was individualized advice, though. runnersworld.com has great tips and advice. you might want to check out their site.
imho running on a treadmill is a nice way to get a feel for what pace you're comfortable running at. typically, you can tell you're running too hard if your heart rate is over 80% your maximum. wikipedia has a pretty nice cardio chart to demonstrate how many beats per minute your exercise zone is for your specific age group.
Im also on week 5, IMHO its easier on the treadmill as the belt is helping throw your foot back and there is less impact and a very smooth 'terrain' so your posture stays in one place if you like. I prefer running outdoors and I think the reason your posture changes is because your terrain and incline does too and I dont think thats a bad thing TBH. I try to think about keeping my hip/pelvis facing stright forward, my head looking straight ahead, shoulders back and down and when going uphill, I try to concentrate on my arms doing the moving more than my legs. I'm no expert but this is what works for me, I especially like to do a little 'posture scan' while I start to struggle, by the time I have thought of all that Im past the 'struggle' and getting back into my stride, actually my last session was probably the first when I felt my stride was more 'treadmill like' and faster. Practice makes perfect I suppose. As I said, Im no expert but thats what works for me and I hope that helps, if not, Im sure you will find what works for you.
I dont think its a case of outdoor V treadmill, I think the treadmill is a handy (icy weather, recovering from injury, running when you feel quite tired..) slightly lower impact tool but that outdoor running has so many benefits (fresh air, variety, scenery..) other than just getting a run done, which the treadmill does not offer for me.
I think the two are just very different from each other so best would be what suits you best.
( Im sure your dog would rather you run outdoors)
From my limited personal experience and what I've read:
Shorter strides help prevent injury, so I think shuffling is actually just fine. It would take less energy to move the leg forward without doing a huge knee bend. So that's my thought on that, based on what research I've done, as I too seem to "shuffle" more than run.
Re: treadmill. I came off a treadmill right into half-marathon training. Let me tell you: felt like I hadn't been running for months beforehand. It was awful! I forgot how much harder it is when you are on the road! But it's so much better once I got used to it, and now the treadmill is so incredibly boring to me, and I actually find that i have more aching when I'm on the treadmill than I do on the open road. It sounds like perhaps you haven't found your pace yet, so maybe slow down a bit and gradually increase your speed to see where you are most comfortable running. That is what I had to do...wow, am I slow! But it will get faster in time. Good luck!
Many runners seem to have a different stride on a treadmill compared to the road. Though I'm a little surprised you noticed that much difference after only a week. Were you using an incline on the treadmill? You need about 1% incline to be equivalent to outdoor running.
What is the ideal technique? You will get 100 different answers from 100 people. But I think most will agree on a few things. Run erect, with perhaps a slight forward lean. Your foot should plant directly under your hips/center of gravity. (Plant is when your foot is fully on the ground. First touch may occur slightly in front. Planting your foot in front of your body is called overstriding and can contribute to excess stress on your legs and to injury and to a "braking effect" as your body catches up to your foot.) Aim for cadence/strides per minute around 180 (count both feet). You won't necessarily get there, but that's the goal. I'm typically just below 170. An efficient stride has the foot on the ground as short a time as possible. That's not something that's easy to adjust, but worth thinking about. Footstrike is something else talked about a lot, the three types being (considered least efficient to most efficient) heelstrike, midfoot and forefoot. Basically it's the part of the foot that lands first: heel, ball of the foot/heel (midfoot, the heel landing fractionally later), and toes/ball of the foot (forefoot). Changing from one to the other is difficult and not to be taken lightly. However you plant now, accept it. You can work on changing it later if you decide change is a good idea.
Those are the basic ideas anyway. Plenty to think about.
The treadmill allows you to keep a detailed history of your training and provides a methodical way of improving. I've done all my training on a treadmill. I started around Christmas, able to run a ~24:30 5K. Three months later I was able to run 18:34. Granted I have some prior running experience and I was out of shape when I started. A year ago I had been training on the treadmill and ran a 20:00 after about two months. Then I took about a year off. I train very hard though, so my results are only one example.
Len is right. I have a totally different stride on the treadmill than outside. I am much more free and natural in my stride and gait ouside. So, I feel easier and more natural oustide than in. The advice Len has about having a good posture and leaning forward is right, the thing I'd say that helped me the most in attaining the best running stride thus far has been the core and glute work I have been doing as of late... that has improved things for me beyond measure. The other thing for me that helped me change my power is how I use my big toe and how flexible it became after I stretched it and in using my whole front part of my foot to get a better lift off the ground. I'd say that now after these changes I get the most energy off my foot strike in terms of stepping forward instead of shuffling as you put it... but again I'd point you to the core work as a former "shuffler" myself.
I believe the treadmill can be a great tool if used properly. I am currently training for the upcoming Spring road races (5K to 10K distance) putting in about 50 to 60 miles a week. My long runs are on Sunday's (13 to 22 miles) which I do exclusively outside with plenty of grade work (last long run I climbed about 1,500 feet, decended near 2,000 feet). Monday is my recovery day --- I stay on the treadmill at a relaxed pace of 8.1 to 8.3 MPH ( 7:30 to 7:13 pace) --- it is a must for me for my recovery days. By the weeks end, if I am feeling fatigued after my speed workouts (Fartlek, Tempo or 400,800,1600 meter repeats) I stay on the treadmill again. So I pretty much use the treadmill as a recovery agent.
For beginners --- I definitely think the treadmill is a great way to fall in love with running. It allows you to control your pace and focus more on the things like form, mid-sole strike, etc. I have always recommended runners to begin on the treadmill and slowly ease into outdoor running (Week 1 = 3 TM runs, 1 Outdoor run ||| Week 2 = 2 TM runs, 2 Outdoor runs)
IMO, I noticed absolutely no change in form from the treadmill to outdoor running. If you are striding, you are striding. The TM is a bit more assisted but sometimes it is good to have that assistance during training --- like I said, especially during recovery periods. I wouldn't train on a TM for an outdoor race exclusively by no means, but it does have its place and time! I hope that helps a bit? Good luck!
Follow My Training
Thanks for all the great answers and observations.
Len - Yes, I was using an incline of 1.5% on the treadmill. Perhaps I wasn't taking as big a step backwards as much as I had just fooled myself into thinking I had achieved a lot of progression. So, I've slowed my pace down, focused more on my foot plant and posture and it has made a world of difference. I wasn't going very fast, but I wowed myself by completing week 5 with the 20 min jog. For this non-athlete, that's a HUGE accomplishment. I realize that I need to cut myself a break, not be embarrassed to move a snail's pace, and work on getting faster once I'm stronger.
I just started training for a 5K. I started on the TM. Everyone has warned me, road vs TM very different.
Thank you everyone. I will hit the road tomorrow and keep the TM for poor weather.
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop ~ Confucius
Yes, outside is very different indeed. As long as you are aware that there is going to be a difference, that is half the battle. I personally found the change between TM and outdoors to be refreshing when I did it. Just know you can control everything else except for weather conditions and changes terrain...well that and very very rarely dogs, but most dog owners where I run are very considerate about that. Most other animals are too frightened of you to bother you, or run away when they come too close.
I love running outdoors personally and hope that you do too. I have had many many adventures on the trails.
This is a subject I am quite familiar with. I have trained for a marathon exclusively on a treadmill. I was deployed for the military in Iraq and could not train outdoors due to the heat and air quality. I trained for 3 months without running outside once. When I got home I had a few weeks to transition into road running. I did long runs, tempo runs, intervals, and recovery runs all on TM. When I set foot on the road I felt the same way you did, not prepared. But when race day came, I had a PR of 2:50. In my opinion the treadmill has many advantages. Low impact that allows for quicker recovery, steady pace, and it doesn't let you back off. As long as you thrown in some incline to make it harder, you should be fine. In an ideal world, I would like to use it in addition to my road running 2 to 3 days a week. But honestly, it is just much more interesting to run outside. So, I say rock out on the treadmill as long as you don't mind the unchanging scenery. As far as the perfect running form. It would be almost impossible to obtain it. Every person is different and we have to run the way our body lets us. If there is something that is going to cause severe injury, make an effort to change it. Your best bet is to get the proper footwear for your style and go from there. Changing your form take a conscious effort. Having a mirror in front of the treadmill is a great way to do that. Hope this all help. Keep running.