Saturday, February 11, 2012

Running is Confusing

I was determined to obtain an accurate reading of the time it takes me to run 1km so I squeezed in a treadmill run between work and a night out. This meant I hopped on the treadmill in jeans and a sweater when I stopped at my dad's to pick up the mail. Not ideal, but it worked.

I started with a 3 minute run at 4.5mph, walked 1 minute at 3mph, then ran 1 minute at 5mph, walked 2 minutes at 3mph, ran 1 minute at 6mph, and walked 1 minute 28 seconds at 3mph for a grand total of 9 minutes 28 seconds to complete a 1km walk/run.

I am happy to complete my run in under 10 minutes and look forward to it getting quicker as I build by endurance for running the full duration, but I am very confused. It took me longer to run/walk on the treadmill than it did to just walk outside (9 min 22 sec). I'm confused by how this happens as I was working harder on the treadmill than I was outside. I can only presume that I walk about 4mph at a steady pace when I'm outside and that this is equivalent to me running (or rather jogging) at a faster pace, but then needing to walk at a slower pace to catch my breath.

I did some internet reading and found out that this is a common problem for beginner runners. Lots of people "run" slower than they walk because they are stopping their momentum when their feet pound the pavement at such a slow pace. It turns out to be healthier for you to walk fast at the 4.5mph pace than to jog it. 6mph is the recommended speed to be actually running. This gave me some things to think about.

Looks like next time I hop on the treadmill I will be setting my pace to 6mph since I know I can run that without falling off the treadmill as long as it is for short bursts. I will aim to run 1 minute at 6mph, walk 1 minute at 4mph, and continue alternating, increasing my run time by 15-30 seconds a set each new day I workout.


  1. I've never been a runner but I have actually almost liked when I've done intervals on the treadmill. It makes my workouts seemingly go by faster:) But I'm still sidelined from cardio because of an injury, so will only be running vicariously through others!

  2. Hi Amber! I thought about this post before commenting. I would say--just evaluate each circumstance of running individually, not in comparison to each other. Apparently, there are reasons unknown to me that make one circumstance harder than the other for you.

    I find similar issues for different elliptical machines. So when I evaluate my progress, it is only compared with what I have done on that particular machine.

    I personally find it easier to break into what I refer to as the "dog show run" when I get to a very brisk walking pace. It's similar to how horses prefer to run rather than trot very fast at a certain speed.

    :-) Marion