They’re the worst. Treadmills are awful. I’m very angry with mine right now.
I’m skeptical at the best of times that I’m getting “as good” a workout from treadmills as I do from outside. There are obvious benefits – pacing being out of my control is one of them. I find it much easier to sustain a difficult pace on a treadmill than out in the real world. But that also has me thinking that I should be better at sustaining a pace in the real world, and that I need practice doing this – in the real world. Not on a treadmill.
I’m also skeptical that bio-mechanically, everything is sound while running on a treadmill. It’s a belt. It can slip. It does slip. That’s one of the things I hate about it. Even after tightening it so it doesn’t slip perceptibly I’m still very skeptical that it isn’t slipping imperceptibly and causing hellish problems within my knees. It wouldn’t take much to irritate the soft tissue beneath the patella. That’s a road that leads straight back to my winter injury. And I really think like my ground contact time is way longer on a treadmill than it is when I’m outside. I don’t have any way of measuring that with my current tools, and it doesn’t really matter, but if my stride is different on the treadmill vs. outside, that’d bad. I don’t fully understand the pure bio-mechanics of it, but seriously, how could it be good?
But what really grinds my gears is that I can’t get accurate distance/pace from the treadmill. Or rather, TrainingPeaks won’t accept an adjusted distance/pace and recalculate my IF to generate an accurate TSS score for the workout. My Garmin Fenix 3HR, which I adore – except on the treadmill – tries to estimate pace using accelerometers. If it worked properly that’d be great. Last night, however, it missed my pace by ~20-35 seconds per km, and missed my distance by over 800m. And it was on the slow side, so I looked even more like a weenie when the workout got posted to Strava!
800m is completely unacceptable. And from what I’ve read online the foot pod that Garmin makes is not a suitable solution – might be accurate at the pace it is calibrated but as pace changes the accuracy goes out the window. These new running power meters may also be a solution some day but for now it looks like they’re completely useless on the treadmill – more so than just a plain old foot pod.
But given the issues I have with treadmills I think my days using them are up. Later this week the temperatures are supposed to be above freezing, so I may actually have a clean sidewalk to run on. I have the gear for it. But I’m not a fan of slipping and sliding all over the place.
But enough is enough. As nice as it is to watch Jack Bauer beat up terrorists while sweating in my warm house, when the sidewalks are clear the treadmill is turning into a “last resort” tool.