Running on the treadmill is a great way to vary your training, monitor your speed accurately and maximise your fitness. It also means you can stick to your schedule if it’s too hot or too cold to run outside or if you’re concerned about working out in the dark.
To help you get the most from your training sessions, try to stay focused. There may be fewer distractions in the gym – they’ll be no pesky dogs chasing at your heels, for example – but if you lose your concentration you won’t get the most from your workout. Good technique is crucial for running efficiently, helping you maximise your fitness gains and staying injury-free. The great thing about treadmill running is it enables you to focus completely on your technique, as there are no twists and turns, and no bumps in the road. So use your time to focus on aspects of your running, and then develop them when you get back out on the streets.
1. Keep your head up.
If you look down at the console all the time, your head will drop forward, which will throw your body out of alignment. This may lead to pressure or pain in your neck, upper, middle or lower back. Fix your eyes on a spot in front of you and then check down only occasionally to see how you’re progressing. When you do need to look at the console, if you can, try to drop your eyes without tipping your head forwards.
2. Keep your shoulders back.
If your shoulders are back and your chest raised, your lungs will be open and ready to take in as much oxygen as possible.
3. Use your arms.
Running is a whole body exercise, so make sure your top half shares some of the load. Drive your elbows back with every step and be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed so you can benefit from the maximum range of motion as your arms swing forward.
4. Squeeze your butt.
If your bum is tight, your hips will be stable and level. This prevents your pelvis rolling and means you’ll avoid unnecessary pain in your lower back.
5. Lift your knees.
As treadmills are sprung, there’s a temptation to let your lower legs do most of the work. Avoid this, as it puts a lot of pressure on your calves and Achilles’ tendons. Instead, lift your knees slightly higher than when running outside, and share the work between your quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as your lower legs.
There will be some distractions in the gym, so make sure you don’t succumb to them. Focus on your running and not on other people, and give the TV a miss, it’s too distracting. Music can be a help or a hindrance, so use it with caution. While it can help motivate you, don’t rely on it for motivation or you’ll become over-dependent on it to get you going. Your main focus should be your workout, your position and how you feel at each stage of the programme you’re following.
7. Breathe deeply.
Without having to worry about traffic pollution – or pedestrians, cyclists, prams or dogs about to bump into you – you can focus completely on your breathing and maximise the efficiency of your lungs.
Words: Jeff Archer