Why Is The Treadmill So Much Harder? | 80/20 Endurance

Why Is The Treadmill So Much Harder?

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    Does anyone else find the treadmill to be quite a bit harder than running outside? Not just mentally, but physically. I don’t use the treadmill much, but I did last Thursday because the roads were icy. It was supposed to be an easy run. So I set it to a 1 percent incline and picked an effort that felt about the same as one of my normal easy runs. Without exaggeration, the treadmill pace was at least 3 minutes per mile slower than what it felt like. I even used Stryd for distance and pace, and it was within 2-3 second per mile of what the treadmill indicated.

    Even my heart rate was the same as it would have been at the usual easy run pace. For what it’s worth, I can’t even run as slow as what the treadmill indicated. If I’m really beat up and do a super easy run/walk, that’s about the same pace that I end up with. Has anyone else had the same experience?

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Your experience is not the norm but is also not unheard of. There are a lot of misconceptions about how treadmill running compares to overground running generally. Here’s a piece on the topic I wrote a number of years ago:



    Thanks! Great information. I can go entire years without running on the treadmill, so maybe the difference would be less extreme with more experience.


    Looking at my Garmin statistics, I see something that might help. For outdoor runs, my stride length is around .87 meters (give or take). On my last treadmill run, it was around .73 meters.

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