Non-motorized, curved manual treadmills are engineered to mimic outdoor running to promote proper running form and technique. The design also allows you to control your speed (rather than the treadmill doing that for you).
Biomechanics And Form
When running on a motorized treadmill, you are effectively braking on every ground contact, and the treadmill then takes your foot backwards at the set velocity. All you need to do, is maintain vertical hip height and engage the forward swing on each stride. This is very different from running on the ground.
The curved manual treadmill encourages foot contact 'under and behind' ('propulsion'). This reduces impact forces and mimics outdoor running. You will be better conditioned for when you are running outdoors.
With a motorized treadmill, controls change the treadmill speed, and you follow the set pace. The resulting biomechanics may be dictated by the treadmill rather than a result of the good 'form' you can achieve when working within your abilities.
On a curved manual treadmill, you increase speed by increasing cadence, lengthening your stride and/or moving forward to the front of the treadmill where the curve steepness increases. The change in propulsion needed to maintain a position near the front of the treadmill closely mimics that of outdoor running.
You reduce speed by slowing your pace and moving to the middle of the treadmill. When you reduce speed, you drift to the middle of the treadmill happens naturally. Body position and gravity also respond as you slow down.
With a bit of practice, both the upper end and lower end of your speed can be achieved quite easily without having to fumble with a button on a control panel (and without the associated changes in body position as you do this).
After a few sessions, you will easily transition between a fast and slow pace in seconds, ideal for workouts that include intervals as well as longer aerobic endurance runs.
You can do all of the sessions within your plan on a curved non-motorized treadmill; many athletes do all or most workouts indoors due to location or environment. A few factors to note:
- Be patient if you are new to running on a curved non-motorized treadmill.
- Long runs will give you psychological training benefits and physiological training, improving your endurance.
- Control your temperature as best you can with a fan or an air-conditioned environment.
- Have the treadmill at a 1% incline to counter the indoor advantage of no wind resistance.
- As you near your race, you will benefit by doing one or two of your long runs outside, preferably with terrain/environment/climate/elevation similar to your target race.
- You may need to adjust your threshold pace and training zones specifically for treadmill running. If your curved treadmill measures power, you can also use this as a measure: Can I adjust Run Workouts to Export to Power?
You may also need to calibrate your training device with your treadmill:
How Does the Treadmill Calibration Feature Work on My Garmin Watch?
As well as the benefits for running, curved manual treadmills use no electricity, so they have a low carbon footprint and, whilst not totally silent, are quieter than motorized treadmills.
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