The Prejudice Against the Treadmill


So, last week, I ran 4 miles on the treadmill on two separate occasions. I was so excited because I had never reached that distance before in my life (aside from soccer which I didn’t really keep count). Upon telling Russ about it, he was super excited for me but interjected, “but it was on the treadmill”, which got me thinking, what is the prejudice against treadmills?

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on treadmills and how they got this skewed perception. From what I see, everyone is afraid of knee injury or lower back injury. But is it fair to isolate these fears only to the treadmill? Any form of running is high-impact on your knees and joints. As long as you focus on keeping your body healthy and doing the right treatments – pre and post workout – why should these fears be exploited more just because you’re on a treadmill?

I, personally, like the control that the treadmill allows. Not only do I feel as though I push myself from a pace stand-point, but I always try to mix in some kind of interval into my treadmill runs to take advantage of pushing that speed at a consistent, faster pace. Without running on the treadmill and testing my pace, I wouldn’t know that I can run a  10 minute mile.

I think another big fear is that it will effect the runner’s form. As long as you keep your core tight and do all that you can to maintain that “forward” lean, your form should in no way be changed due to treadmill running. Running isn’t a “mindless” exercise to me. I have to use all of my focus to make sure my form, my breathing, my HR, is all lined up where I want it to be. When I’m on the treadmill, that focus does not change. If anything, I am more focused because I see my distance, I see my speed and I want to push myself a little bit on this mile, or do intervals for this half mile, etc.

When I ran 4 miles, I ran 4 miles. I don’t think it matters where, how long, what external elements were in play, the bottom line is I ran 4 miles. I ran for 40 minutes. I never thought I could do that. I do not think that any merit should be lost because you achieved something on a treadmill versus running outside. Why should I expose myself to the blistering heat of Orlando, Florida where I could be subject to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, etc. and these elements aren’t even the ones I’ll be running in (my race is in December which is typically colder).

Please do not get me wrong. I am not advocating only running on a treadmill vs. running outdoors, but if you run on a treadmill, why do your accomplishments come with an asterisk?