You may have seen the efforts made by British astronaut Tim Peake to simulate the London Marathon in space. He had a feed of the TV broadcast while running the full distance strapped to a treadmill on the ISS.
He previously ran the marathon in 1999, and he recalled his experience of that time, then used what he learned to avoid carelessness during the space run. This is obviously an extreme case, but these days, sophisticated treadmills can be linked to fitness apps that can give you a virtual display of real marathon routes.
Why is this catching on with some in the fitness world? Can it prepare you properly for running on outdoor surfaces and in a true climate? Let’s make a comparison.
Scientific research has been undertaken in this area, which finds that a treadmill run can overcome the lack of wind resistance indoors if the gradient setting is turned on at 1%. Similarly, the bio-mechanical movements of the runner’s body don’t alter drastically when they go outside.
Other experiments have found that athletes subconsciously work harder with the help of visuals and scenery. The researchers asked the runners to run at the same speed they recorded outdoors on a treadmill. The runners discovered they were fooled by the machine into thinking they were covering the same speeds. Perhaps this is where the digital displays of city streets come into their own.
Also, having a friend or social group to run with you is almost guaranteed to make the workout more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Irish climate is truly miserable for the majority of the year, so a lot of runners will have to settle for individual or group training in the gym or at home.
In conclusion, a treadmill can’t yet simulate the whole experience of outdoor running, but it can be used to fully prepare you for running a long distance race or trek. The treadmill is ideal for those who are inexperienced and may find a machine more welcoming to get started than running in public areas.
Also, people with injuries could cause recurrences to their body if they come across a hazard such as a pothole or slippery surface. Athletes who live in seclusion or areas not catered for pedestrians might struggle to commit to a consistent regime, but can use the data and figures they receive from a treadmill console to track their improvements.