Treadmill Trouble

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First run after Eli was born. Worse than childbirth.
I've always assumed that running on the treadmill is easier than running outside. It makes sense: no outdoor elements, such as wind, to contend with. No hills. No potholes, dogs, and kids on bicycles to dodge. You're running indoors, in a controlled environment, on a flat surface, with a belt helping to pull you along.

But lately I've been really uncomfortable during and after my treadmill runs. Ever since I fell down in the bathroom at the gym, my right knee hasn't been 100%, and running on the treadmill seems to make it worse. If it's a short run, like three miles, it's OK. Anything longer and it starts aching and bothers me the rest of the day. However, I'm able to go 10-13 miles outside and feel fine afterward. By "fine", I mean like death. But at least it's a universal feeling of death that encompasses my whole body and it goes away after I stretch, have a boiling hot shower, and eat an entire box of macaroni.

I didn't go to the doctor to get it checked out (now THAT would just be silly) but thanks to Google MD I have diagnosed myself. I think that when I fell I pulled something in my knee and it's still a little sensitive. How's that for a diagnosis? Sup, science.

I did some research on treadmills too and learned some interesting tidbits:
  • Running on the treadmill on a flat incline is akin to running downhill outside.
  • Running downhill is harder on your knees than running uphill. 
  • Running on the treadmill without varying your pace and incline means you aren't changing up your stride at all. Therefore your joints, legs, etc. are feeling the exact same impact with every step. It's easier for them to get overworked and overstressed. 
If you must run on a treadmill, there are ways to make it suck less. Varying your speed and incline throughout your run helps to mimic outdoor running and allows you to change up your stride, the same way you would naturally do. I tried a three-mile treadmill run on the weekend and set the incline to "random" so every minute or two it would change and I didn't have any discomfort during or after.

Fingers crossed that spring weather is here to stay and I'll be able to avoid the treadmill altogether. Five and a half weeks to go until the Blue Nose half!

You Might Also Like


  1. I did not know that running flat on a treadmill is equal to running downhill outside?! Thats crazy talk.

    1. I guess since the belt is pulling you along it's making moving forward "easier" in theory, while at the same time killing your joints. That's my scientific explanation anyway :)