Treadmills and distance

I know that treadmills don’t have the same exertion as running outside but how accurate are the distances on the monitors? I have heard that treadmills say that you have run further than what what you have because it sells more treadmills. Does anyone check for the accuracy involved in cardio equiment?

I would like to add: How accurate are pedometers?

I’ve never heard of treadmill manufacturers intentionally giving an inaccurate distance. Sounds a bit UL-ish to me. However, I’m also not aware of any standard that they have to adhere to. As far as I know, nobody checks.

Pedometers aren’t terribly accurate. At low speeds they tend to miscount. They are more accurate at higher speeds, but their accuracy depends on how consistent your stride is, and the length of your stride can vary a lot depending on the terrain. They are probably accurate to about +/- 10 percent.

Sorry to not have a precise answer, but when I run any distance on a treadmill, it is only slightly easier than outside. Basically, if I run 10 miles on the treadmill, I feel pretty much as tuckered out as if I had run 10 miles outside.

If anything, the treadmill keeps your pace up – my 10 miles outside will almost always be slower than on the treadmill.

Oh, and if I can just barely run 12 miles on the treadmill, then I will probably just barely run 12 miles outside, though a bit slower. Take that for what it’s worth.

That makes no sense. How would inflating your mileage stats help to sell more treadmills?

No one seems to speak to accuracy, but most people say to put in an incline of 1–2% to get the same effort as running outside on flat ground. Cool Running says that every percent of incline makes the effort feel like 10–15 seconds per mile, so in that sense what the machine says your pace is, and what your actual pace feels like in the real world are at odds. The actual distance measured is probably accurate, but may not match up with your perceived distance. If their given example is typical, then the difference is about 10% per degree of incline.

There are a few things that are very different between running on regular ground and running on a treadmill. Like the article I cited mentioned, you can’t do descents at all. Inclines also don’t go as nasty as you might encounter in real life. Dealing with varied terrain is training in and of itself since your body has to adapt to differences in pace dictated by footing. You definitely can’t sprint on one of them. The best treadmills top out at about 12 mph and realistically it wouldn’t be safe to do sudden accelerations/de-accelerations on one even if you can’t dash faster than that.

Exclusive machine workouts probably wouldn’t be that great for performance. You’d probably be better off doing real running as much as possible and using the treadmill for when the weather is crap, or when there’s some other reason you can’t run outside.

A couple years ago when I got back in shape after turning into a slug, I got to where I was doing treadmill and elliptical machine workouts at a pretty good level; not topping out, but doing about level 6 or 7 out of 10. I thought it would be no problem to run a couple of kilometers outside. After all, I was putting in between 2 and 3 km nominally on the machines in my relatively short but intense aerobic workouts.

I was sore in weird spots for two days after running only 2.4 km outside at a moderate pace. There was no real comparison between what I was doing on the machines and what I did outside. It wasn’t joint soreness, it was unused muscle soreness. My calves and hamstrings were tender, the little connecting muscles around my hip hurt, there was a spot right in the middle of each buttcheek that ached, and all kinds of little connective tissues felt like they’d been used a bit more than normal. I don’t do machine workouts for cardio at all anymore, unless I have no other choice.

Not exactly related to running, but still on the same topic of exercise, free weights and machines—even cable machines—are not the same at all. I can easily do more repetitions on a pulldown machine than pullups, even when the machine is set at the same (honest) level as my body weight. That particular exercise is emulated about as closely as possible, but it still makes a difference. Free weight workouts take more strength and control, and give you more functional strength than any of the isolation machines.

One of the problems with machines is that you can “cheat” by using crappy form because the machine doesn’t allow full range of motion and doesn’t require balancing or controlling. That will end up contributing to injuries down the road. Using free weights practically forces you to use good form, or you won’t be able to do it at all. In my opinion, machine weight workouts should be done only to get to the point where you can graduate to free weights or body weight exercises. You get the added bonus of working unrelated muscles when doing non-machine exercises. Believe me, your stomach and shoulders will tell you that they don’t like you very much after you do your first pullup workout after thinking that body-weight pulldowns are a cinch.

Because if you use a particular brand of machine at the gym that you like better than the other brand (“I don’t know why – it’s just easier…”), you might buy that brand? At the gym I go to, they have two different brands of elliptical trainer. One of them is easy and fun to use, and the other seems more exhausting for the same workout. Which one do you think I always went to when I wanted an elliptical? It might be that the machine was lying or it may simply be a style difference.