Benefits of the Treadmill

Stemming from the discussion on Martha’s blog about getting a new mattress vs. a new treadmill, I thought I might explain why (for me at least) having a treadmill to do your running on is significantly better than not having one (or having one that’s about to break).

Basically, it all boils down to a scientific approach to your fitness plan. If you go out running on the street, your speed will vary (consciously or subconsciously) based on all kinds of factors on any given day. You may be more tired one day than another, etc., so it would be hard to consistently (over a week / month, whatever) define what you did when you worked out, because it would be variable and difficult to measure.

On the treadmill, on the other hand, if you set it to X MPH and go for 30 minutes, you know that you were going that speed the whole time, by virtue of the fact that you remained on the treadmill.

That’s actually one of the problems with the one we have now, I think the motor is dying down, so it feels like sometimes when you step down it slows it up for a moment, and then when you step up it feels like it speeds back up to try and catch up. I haven’t really looked at it too closely, but after having used the ones at the gym pretty much every day for the last few weeks, it’s much easier to see the faults in the one in our garage.

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7 Responses to Benefits of the Treadmill

  1. Dan says:

    But you’re on a mattress for 1/3 or 1/4 of the day while you’re using a treadmill for just an hour or two. Also, a mattress can help you feel better for the next morning’s workout.

    I do have a suggestion: buy a mattress and a stopwatch. Then you’ll know how fast you’re going.

  2. JB says:

    Yeah, but I’m getting a fine night’s sleep right now, so it’s not really that kind of a trade off.

    Everyone talks about the amount of time you spend on a mattress, since you obviously do sleep for a significant percentage of time per day. While I do get that, I think you also have to balance it with the reality that most people in the world (both presently and definitely historically) sleep on things that aren’t as nice as the mattress that we’ve got right now, so your body probably just learns to cope with whatever it’s sleeping on, within reason.

    A stopwatch doesn’t quite do the trick either. (I’m assuming you’re talking about in the context of running on the street). You’d at least need to take the time to measure out the course you’re going to run and various points along the way you could use as milestones, and even then, you wouldn’t know whether your speed was off until you reached one of those, at which point it would be too late to correct it.

    The point of the explanation above was that a treadmill forces you to keep an even pace, which you can’t really accurately do yourself. If that doesn’t matter too much for you, then no big deal, but I want to be consistent, so it’s a big benefit for me.

  3. Nate says:

    This watch gives me all the info I need including my pace and I think it’s kind of nice to to run outside in the sun and see the neighborhood and other runners and dog walkers and stuff.

  4. Dan says:

    That watch is awesome.

    I hope you see the contradiction:
    “real” world of sleeping conditions
    running on a mechanical machine, under a roof, in Ventura California.

    Either way, have fun with whatever you get.

  5. JB says:

    I’m not sure if you guys are just expressing your personal preferences or if you’re trying to be argumentative. I’m not putting down anyone who chooses to run outside, only stating that there are some things that you can do on a treadmill that you can’t do without one. Arguing that point is futile.

    The watch is definitely cool. My only point was that if you want to do things like run at X MPH for X minutes, even with the watch (and next to impossible without it), the closest you could do would be to stare at the watch the whole time and constantly adjust your speed so that your pace *averages out* to X MPH over the course of the time you’re running. This is significantly different than what I was describing above.

    Then if you take into consideration wanting to do stuff like intervals (2 min. @ X MPH, 2 min. @ X+2 MPH, alternating over N minutes), it’s extraordinarily easy on a treadmill, whereas I can’t think of a way of doing it (accurately) without one.

    Again, there’s nothing wrong with preferring to run outside, if that’s what you enjoy. I’m not trying to convert anyone here, just explaining why I prefer what I prefer. As a side note, the dog walkers would fall in the negative category for me. :)

    As for “contradictions”, I don’t see any at all. Like I stated in my previous comment, my sleeping conditions are perfectly acceptable (to me) right now, and I think I’ve done all I can to give clear examples of the kinds of exercise that require a treadmill to realistically do with accurate measurements.

  6. Nate says:

    The watch actually does do interval workouts by distance, time or calories. If you wanted to do what the workout you specified you would have to create a custom workout and add each interval.

    It’s not that hard to keep your pace steady and the watch does give you an on the fly pace and lap pace (lap distance is configurable) so it’s pretty easy.

    Just letting you know your options. I got it pretty cheap at Amazon.

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