Treadmills can get a bad rap in certain circles in the running community. Questions like “Is a treadmill bad for your knees?” or “Can a treadmill make you faster?” It’s commonplace for runners to believe that a treadmill makes you slower than running outside. This isn’t entirely true.
Treadmills can be a great tool for those looking to increase their running speed. Speed training programs incorporating interval training, Fartleks, or tempo runs can benefit from the incline on the treadmill as well as the data it provides. By tracking and timing your workouts, you can make sure you are improving.
People with very long winters (who don’t love running in the cold), people with a very tight schedule to get a run in, or people who simply would prefer the safety of their home vs the outside world will also benefit from having a treadmill. In this article, we look at some scientific studies, as well as our own experiences, to draw these conclusions. We’ve also included a treadmill speed pace chart comparing running speeds on a treadmill to common race distances.
- Is Running on A Treadmill Slower than Running Outside?
- How To Get Faster On a Treadmill
- Other Considerations for Treadmill Running
Is Running on A Treadmill Slower than Running Outside?
While there are some disadvantages of running on a treadmill, negatively affecting your speed doesn’t appear to be one of them. Scientists have studied this in several published studies.
A study by the International Journal of Exercise Science examined whether stride frequency (the number of times you take a step) or stride length (how big the step is) were influenced when running on a treadmill vs running outdoors.
There was no statistical difference between running on a treadmill and running outdoors. This being the case, it is either a myth that you run slower on a treadmill or there are other factors, for example psychological, at play.
That is exactly what scientists found in this study. For this experiment, scientists took 21 participants and had them run for 3 minutes on a track at whatever speed they wanted and felt comfortable. Immediately afterward, they took the test subjects to a treadmill, covered up the speed, and asked them to match their track speed.
After the treadmill, they took them outside and had them run overground for 3 minutes at the same speed as the prior two times. The findings were very interesting. While there was no change between the track and the outside running speeds, the treadmill speeds were significantly slower.
This indicates that the perception of the athlete can influence whether or not they feel they are running faster or slower on a treadmill.
How To Get Faster On a Treadmill
To get faster using a treadmill, it’s important to mimic your normal running conditions as much as possible. There are several ways to do this that we are going to outline below.
1/ Wear The Same Gear
It’s important to wear the same type of gear you would outside – within reason. If you normally run in sweat pants, don’t wear booty shorts when running in the comfort of your own home. Clothing, hydration, ambient temperature, and several other factors can have a slight effect on your running performance.
Most people just wear normal road running shoes on a treadmill, however, there are some benefits to looking into specific treadmill running shoes. Lucky for you, we’ve made a list of the best treadmill running shoes. Enjoy.
2/ Try To Mimic The Environment
Think about it. If you live in Louisianna where it’s 100% humidity every day during the summer, and you are running in your 65-degree 10% humidity basement, you will most likely perform better. That’s great, and I would do it, but don’t compare the two runs and wonder why they are different.
3/ Use a 1% Incline
A rule of thumb that is commonly thrown around in the running world is that a 1% incline on a treadmill mimics running overground well. The thought is that since there are no hills or valleys on a treadmill, the 1% incline helps make it more realistic.
4/ Try Interval Training (HIIT or Fartlek)
Oftentimes, you will hear us mention interval training when we talk about running outdoors. The same is true for training on a treadmill because it can help mimic some of the physiological circumstances that could happen when you are running outdoors. Things like hills and wind can add resistance outdoors can you may not experience inside.
Throw that speed up a few MPH for 30 seconds every once in a while. It is also a great way to help train yourself psychologically to be able to push through a tough stint.
5/ Research and Track Your Workouts
There’s no doubt about it – if you don’t know what you are doing, you will likely not improve. If you want to get faster on a treadmill, research your workouts. Be intentional with what you are doing. Don’t just go for a 30-minute run. Dial-in the speed, incline, splits, and whatever else you need to make sure you are progressing.
Ask questions like:
- How many miles should I run this week?
- What type of workout should I do?
- What did I do last week?
6/ Utilize The Data
One of the biggest advantages of treadmills over overground or track running is the built-in screen and computer. This is a treasure trove of data that is hard to match outside without some fancy sensors or expensive running watches.
If you have a treadmill, you have a great resource to help you measure, track, and optimize your running program.
How Fast Is 6.0 MPH on a Treadmill?
Six miles per hour on a treadmill ends up being a 10-minute mile. This is a fairly comfortable rate for most people, and a great first milestone to achieve if you cannot do so currently. This would mean that, in an hour of steady running, you could run six miles.
If you could keep this pace up for 26.2 miles you could run a marathon in around 4 hours and 22 minutes – a respectable time.
How Fast Is 7.0 on A Treadmill?
Seven miles per hour on a treadmill is equivalent to just over an 8.5-minute mile. This is another great milestone pace for someone who is running multiple miles. While 8.5 minutes may not be overly impressive for one mile, considering the world record is well under 4 minutes, it is a great accomplishment for someone who is running multiple miles.
This pace for an entire marathon would put you at around 3 hours and 43 minutes. That is a sub-4 hour marathon which is great for an amateur runner.
How Fast Is 8.0 on A Treadmill?
Eight miles per hour on a treadmill work out to be a 7.5-minute mile. This is a great pace for those who are looking to improve their speed and stamina. Consistently running 7.5-minute miles for an extended period of time is difficult to do even for the most experienced runners.
This marathon pace would be around 3 hours 16.5 minutes. That is an incredible pa
Other Considerations for Treadmill Running
When you run on a treadmill, it is important to maintain proper form to avoid injury and improve your speed. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when running on a treadmill is hunching over or leaning too far forward.
This puts strain on your back and can cause pain in your joints. This is one of the reasons people think running on a treadmill is bad for your knees (spoiler, it isn’t).
Another thing to consider is that treadmills wear out. Training for long distances each week will accelerate the wear, however with proper maintenance and a few replacement parts it shouldn’t be too bad. But it is something to consider.
There is also the issue of shoes wearing out on treadmill. Treadmills are actually kinder to outsoles than running outside, but it is still something to factor into the equation. One thing people think helps with this is to use trail running shoes on a treadmill. I disagree. In fact, I think that is worse.
There are many benefits to running on a treadmill. Running on a treadmill works several muscles very well, it’s easy and convenient, there is loads of data to help you out, and you can control the environment so you don’t have to worry about running in the rain or snow. But, can a treadmill make you faster? With the right training plan, I do believe it can. Although, it may not seem like it.