Author: Jack Ward for Virtual Runner
With the temperamental English sunshine slumping back into hiding and your favourite cross-country route now ruined by October’s onslaught of rain, it’s the perfect time to swap the hills for the hallway and get on that treadmill. But what do you need to know before stepping foot on the runner? Here are some top tips for making the transition:
- Know your Machine
Some treadmills have more knobs and dials than the cockpit of a Boeing 747, but don’t let this break your stride. If you’re at the gym, don’t be afraid to ask an instructor to give you the lowdown on the machine’s gizmos. Use the technology at your disposal to your advantage! Bad joints? Find the cushioning feature. Heart problems? Heart rate monitor. Looking to shed some pounds? Pre-set workouts will become your best friend. You get the picture, whatever your question, the treadmill most likely has the answer.
- Incline is fine
Without the twists, turns, ups and downs of a typical run, not to mention the lack of wind resistance, it’s important to simulate a bit of a challenge. Using a steep incline on a runner, however, has been linked to causing shin splints and an increased chance of injury, so don’t emulate scaling Snowdon every day. Keep it sensible. Don’t be afraid to change the settings around either, if you’re singing all the words to your favourite running playlist, why not shift up a gear? Remember, variety is the spice of life. And trust me, you’ll need some variety when you’re staring at a gym vending machine for a whole 5km.
- Keep that posture
Running on a treadmill is still running, believe it or not. It’s easy to change your technique without realising and pick up unhealthy habits. Don’t ‘counterbalance’ and lean forward, despite feeling like you may shoot off the end at any moment. You can avoid those nasty treadmill fails you’ve seen on Facebook by just running typically. As a rule of thumb, keep an eye on your hips and shoulders, making sure they stay roughly in line.
- Resist the handrail
Your two pistons are feeling rustier and rustier every stride you take. As you look left and right in desperation, you’re greeted with the two most handsome handrails you’ve ever seen. But whatever you do, don’t use them! It may be hard to resist, but these pesky plastic arms are no match for your steel pistons and can cause you to slump whilst running. Not only does this squash your diaphragm, but it can also lead to back and neck pain. You’ve been running since you were knee high, you don’t need stabilisers.
- Stay hydrated
It may seem obvious; however, you can often dehydrate easier on a treadmill with the lack of air resistance, meaning you don’t cool down as much. So, keep that water bottle at arm’s reach and try and drink around 300 millimetres every 25 minutes. Don’t panic if you still feel dehydrated and lightheaded when coming off the treadmill either, your body can often feel disorientated by the quick decrease in physical activity, so try to gradually end your run rather than abruptly. Fuel your body like you’d fuel your car, just avoid the petrol.