Princeton Runners Rejoice!

From Treadmill to Trail…By Amanda Caswell

As Spring nears, and the weather warms, the urge to get off the treadmill and enjoy running outside increases. Hopefully you’ve kept a fitness regime over the winter as you make that transition from the gym and onto the trail. There are a few training tips to consider however, to keep you safe and fit.

First, make sure you are running on the treadmill now with a 1% grade because this most accurately reflects the energetic cost of running outdoors. Obviously, when running indoors you don’t have to battle the elements like wind, rain, branches on the trails, etc, and you don’t have the assistance of the treadmill belt pulling your legs back to you. But, increasing the incline of the treadmill by even 1% will help you adjust to the earth’s terrain.  Studies show we actually run slower on the treadmill in comparison to running outside. The workload is 2% to 10% more when running outside, thus we burn more calories. This is just one of the many benefits of getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather for your runs.

Running on the treadmill reduces overuse injuries by 50%, so consider running on safe trails and paths instead of concrete sidewalks and roads.  This will help keep your runs smooth and avoid common injuries like shin splints. If you had any previous injuries, it is important to consider the terrain outside. If you have had a sprained ankle, for example, make sure the path you choose is clear of debris as you are more susceptible to another injury from the previous sprain.

Another way to avoid injury, is to consider your running shoes. If you’ve been running in the same pair all winter, now would be an excellent time to purchase new ones. It is recommended that you get a new pair every 300-400 miles. So, if you’ve been  running 20 miles + a week since November, it is definitely time to get a new pair.

Either outside or in, you can improve your overall cardio exercise with interval workouts. This means that you stay within 65% to 85% of your max heart rate throughout the workout.  Thus, helping you burn fat. This is much easier on a treadmill because many machines actually have an “INTERVAL” button. Thanks to technology, we can let the treadmill do the thinking for us. But, when doing an interval workout outside, consider picking up the pace every 3-5 minutes, or find a landmark and run to it faster. Think, “Ok, from this tree to that lightpost I’m going to pick up the pace!” It keeps your mind active and makes long runs fun.

Most of all, make sure you do a combination of indoor and outdoor runs. Just as you check to make sure the treadmill is working properly, make sure you consider your safety outside as well – wear reflective gear, know the area fairly well, and be aware of your surroundings.   Have a great run!

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We’ll be posting more from Amanda this Spring with information about stretching and training for a road race.  Amanda Caswell is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer specializing in fitness and nutrition for children and adults, sports performance, and weight loss programs. Amanda has run 22 marathons and is currently training for a triathlon.


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