‘Interval training.  It separates those who train from those who race.’- Once a Runner

‘The treadmill.  It separates those who run from those who jog.’- SDA

Are you a Runner or a Jogger?

This is a deep question with many different arguments for and against.  But here is a question to discover which you are.

It’s 45 degrees and slightly windy outside.  You’re at the gym.  You have an hour to get out and run.  Do you hop on the treadmill or go outside?

If you answered treadmill you are a jogger that day.  You wake up with a clean slate every day.

Do not despair fellow Harrier.  At some point we are all Joggers and likewise we all have moments where we are Runners.  I don’t bring this up to disparage you from running on a treadmill.  Noooooo.  The treadmill has uses.

-If you’re recovering from an injury.  Do you want to head out for a run, get a few miles in  only to find out your injury is still bothering you?  Only if you love long, frustrating walks home in tight pants or short shorts.

-If you’re strapped for time and need to get your run in.

-If you want to work on running form.  The treadmill is a place to run without distraction.  No pot holes, no cars, no turns, no hills (except for those you program in).  You can work on getting your stride rate up by doing a :10 stride check (aim for 15 strides on one leg over :10).

-If the weather outside is God Awful and flat out unsafe (Boston runners in February are nodding their heads).

On the cold days, on most days, most people are home doing nothing.  You got off your ass.  You’re exceptional.  Rock on Jogger.

-If you want to take the Sound test.

What is the sound test?

The sound test is simple.  How much sound are you making as you run?  Efficient running is quiet.

Loud running is inefficient.  You are more likely to get hurt (shin splints, plantar fasciitis) or injured (stress fracture or achilles tendonitis) if you run loud.

Running loud- shorten your stride.  Land on the wide, flexible part of your foot (not your heel).  Thank me later.

Running loud- stretch your feet.  Here’s how:

See.  It’s okay to jog on the treadmill.  Don’t make it a habit because…

The treadmill has limitations.

The major limitation of treadmill running is that the machine’s motor puts you into hip extension (fancy way of saying your leg is extended behind you).

Once your foot hits the ground underneath you it is the job of your glutes and hamstrings to pull the leg under you and propel you forward.

The motor on the treadmill does this for you.  Your foot strikes and is swept underneath you by the machine.  The result is less activation in your glutes and hamstrings.  No Glutes and hammies = FLAT ASS.


Sir Mix A-Lot does not approve.

Other limitations?

Boredom.  You can have great tunes and I bet you anything your eyes will still drift over to the clock every minute or so.

Sometimes I’m running on the treadmill and I’ll glance over at the time elapsed clock and it will read 10:15 or something like that.  And then time passes.  I keep running.  The urge to look back at the clock returns but I resist.  Eyes ahead.  Keep moving.  Another minute passes (by my account) before the urge to look returns.  I resist again.  I resist for another minute or so after that (my account) and then the urge to look is so strong I have to give in.  I have to know how much longer I have to run in place.  I glance over expecting the clock to read 16:30 or 17 minutes.


Well shit.


You know if I had one day left on this world and wanted to make that day last, I may just jump on the treadmill.

You’re inside.  Your missing out on so much.  Trees, leaves, sunsets, beautiful architecture…

But wait, you say.  I can watch TV while on the treadmill.  That makes the time pass.

If you can watch TV and follow what’s going on you’re probably not running very hard.

Physical limitations?  Predictability.

SAID Principle:  The Body Specifically Adapts to Imposed Demands.

If you only ask your body to run on flat, even surfaces your body will get adapt only to run on flat even surfaces.  No pot holes, no hills, no turns, no mud, no grass, no uneven or cracked pavement.  You didn’t study for those tests.  Your foot placement is predictable so your foot may develop a limited range of motion.

If your feet have limited range of motion you’ll fail the sound test.

Final deep thought about the treadmill: it has strengths and weaknesses.

But no Runner has ever had the Best-Run-Ever on the treadmill.

Got opinions on anything above?  I’d love to debate.  Comment or email me @ thebostonrunningman@gmail.com

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