Moving From Treadmill to Street Running
Spring has sprung and all of us who fancy ourselves runners are anxious to leave the treadmill behind and start logging some distance on the roads. But, beware, these seemingly simple transitions can often result in unwanted injuries and land you completely on the sidelines.
There’s more to transitioning from indoors to outdoors than turning off the TV and adding or subtracting clothing. Running on a treadmill is safe and predictable, far more forgiving than the open road. When you run on a treadmill, you move your feet to keep pace with the belt and, in turn, the belt tends to guide your feet into a parallel position. In contrast, when you run outdoors, your feet will take on a more natural in or out turn, resulting in a significantly different gait. This small difference in foot position can result in a myriad of foot and knee complaints.
Mile for mile, running outdoors is simply a more difficult fitness activity than running on a treadmill. Outdoors you must deal with wind resistance, temperature changes, hills, valleys, and an occasional dog to outrun, which all require more energy than running on the treadmill. It’s easy to see, with all these differences, why leaving the treadmill behind can often result in frustrating early season injuries. The key to staying healthy is to transition and take it slow. I recommend substituting one road workout in place of a treadmill workout per week until all of your running is finally outdoors. You should expect to slow your pace and reduce your distance for the outside runs until you’re fully readjusted to this type of running.
As with all training, this is just a guide and you may find that you need more or less time to make the safe transition from the treadmill to the road.
(Jody Murray is a licensed athletic trainer and acupuncturist with a private acupuncture practice in Brookfield, CT. Visit her Acupuncture Therapy Blog to learn more.)
Top photo by Laurie Klein. Bottom photo from LuLu Lemon Athletica on Flickr.