It´s been rainy lately and the road I normally use for running is full of bumps and puddles. Not that I mind them but they are less than perfect for my transition to fivefingers. In other words, today I decided to take my training indoors and I found out a couple of things.
First, that the treadmill is far better than asphalt or even hard soil for running. My body in general reacted better to this surface and at the end of the 40min continuous workout my muscles felt way better than after a 20 min run on other types of surface. I have to say I was surprised. After reading for years that treadmills are horrible machines on which only a few muscles are exercised thus weakening ankles and knees and setting the path to injury my whole body was feeling much better than the last few days.
Secondly, the treadmill has proven invaluable in helping me figure out the best running technique. Let me explain. When running outdoors you get a lot of ground feedback. That is, your feet get the full experience of the ground surface. On the treadmill there is not much feedback to be received, except, of course, your own feet´s . As I was running at different speeds I could tell exactly what part of my sole was touching the ground first. I could hear the thumping sound of my feet and tell if I was absorbing the impact properly with my muscles or if I was loading my knees too much. Finally, I was able to feel how the design of my treksports ( maybe not the best model for treadmill but the only one I have available as of this moment) helped me touchdown with the famous ball/midfoot stride.
Just one more thought: As I have already shared with you on some of my other articles the faster I ran the better my running technique got. I don´t mean to say you have to half-sprint all the time but to be honest even though increasing my speed meant shortening my training I am sure my legs will thank me for it.
I know that many of you may think there is not much point in running on a treadmill with shoes that are specifically designed for running outdoors and get in contact with the real world. I normally would agree with you. I love feeling the earth and the grass beneath my feet. But you must understand that not all of us get a chance to run through leaf-covered paths and autumn-coloured woods. My conclusion is that treadmill is extremely useful for getting to know your running technique and helping improve it. Maybe when my feet are more adapted to minimalist running I won´t feel such a big difference.