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Baby it's cold outside

With the recent cold spell hitting many areas of Canada over the past few weeks, many of us have resorted to treadmill running as a way to maintain our fitness, or complete our Stride’s Run Streak, via treadmill miles. It may lead us to ask ourselves, “Are we getting the same benefit from our run as we would if we were outside?” I have good news for you Treadmill-ers - there are actually some positive benefits to the treadmill.

Treadmill runs are a great place to work on your running form. Since you are not dealing with uneven pavement or roads, a treadmill provides a consistent platform to honestly assess your foot strike and work on making any necessary adjustments. Further, the impact on a treadmill is less as you absorb approximately 15% less of your body weight on a treadmill versus ground. Another purported benefit is the ability to hear your foot strike so you can assess whether your foot strike is too hard. Lastly, it allows you to workout in a very controlled environment, safe from mother nature and motor vehicles.

There are of course some downsides to running on the treadmill. The obvious downside being no fresh air or Vitamin D. Many of us spend our days in stuffy offices and desire some time with nature. Secondly, perceived effort on a treadmill is often higher than running outside. This is likely due to the monotony of it and the lack of perception of distance without moving targets. Further, running on a treadmill enhances your gait artificially during the rearward motion. Too much treadmill running could make running outside feel a lot more difficult muscularly, as a result. So, if, like me, you find getting outside in the cold weather really difficult, don’t belittle your treadmill run. You are still doing yourself more good than doing nothing at all. And if the weather takes another turn for the worst, use that time to bond with your treadmill and be more conscious of your running form, making minor adjustments if you can. And for those of you running outside - be careful to dress warmly and watch your step, cause Baby it’s cold (and slippery) outside!

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