Many trainers in the speed enhancement industry are at odds with the above question.
Those in favor of treadmill training often cite reasons such as enhanced acceleration and improved sprint technique as evidence of their belief.
The naysayers “say” that a treadmill can negatively impact an athlete’s landing pattern. And some of them go so far to say that treadmills aren’t an accurate indicator of true speed because they don’t recreate the actual “outdoor environment”. (i.e., lack of wind resistance, terrain changes and the fact that the treadmill belt helps propel an athlete along.
As for me, I won’t tell you to choose one or the other. All I can let you know is that I do believe in the merits of a high-speed treadmill.
And the reason why is simple…Experience.
I’ve seen the benefits of high speed treadmill training firsthand while working at Athletic Republic whose training program was birthed from the Frappier Acceleration Speed Training method.
To clarify, when I say treadmill training I’m not just talking about the actual treadmill itself. I’m talking more about the overall training environment, namely, the use of mirrors/video cameras for bio-mechanical analysis and the instruction of a knowledgeable coach.
While the machinery and capabilities of the high-speed treadmill are truly impressive, the real speed boost comes from the hands-on coaching experience that allows a coach to stay in an athlete’s ear throughout the entire speed process.
This approach to speed training just isn’t possible with the athlete on the “ground”. The coach would have to run alongside an athlete at top speed while attempting to give coaching cues to the athlete real-time. Very unlikely…
Here’s a Few Reasons to Try Treadmill Running:
1. Improved acceleration
Most high-speed treadmill protocols call for the athlete to get on the belt at maximal/near maximal speeds. Unless the athlete wants to face plant, he/she will learn to get up to top speed very quickly!
By consistently getting up to top speed in a hurry, athletes will be creating neural pathways and movement patterns that allow them to improve their overall acceleration.
2. Improved sprint mechanics
Treadmill sessions are a great opportunity to provide an athlete with relevant feedback regarding his/her sprint mechanics.
With the critical eye of a knowledgeable trainer, real-time coaching cues and the use of a mirror/video camera, an athlete can dramatically improved his/her sprint mechanics thereby allowing him/her to run faster!
3. Enhanced aerobic and anaerobic conditioning
Did you know that some treadmills can get up to 28 mph and an incline of 40°?
With a range of options (ie, adjusting speed and/or incline), you can perform runs that specifically targets both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.
4. Increased speed endurance threshold
On the ground, an athlete can decide to take a “rep off”. They can slack and not give 100% effort.
One of the good things about treadmill running is that it will force an athlete to maintain their speed/intensity level whether he or she wants to or not! As I alluded to earlier, if the athlete lets up, he/she will be in jeopardy of flying off the thing!
5. Alternative to training outside in extreme temperatures
I live in Phoenix, AZ and believe me when I say gets “hot” in the summer…I mean, really, really hot. Case in point: We saw temperatures reach 120°F this summer!
But whether it’s too hot or too cold, indoor treadmill running still allows you the opportunity to get an effective workout in, even in horrible weather conditions.
Will treadmill running completely take the place of conventional “ground” running?
Will it help you iron out your sprint technique and provide you with a great anaerobic workout?
If utilized correctly, “high-speed” treadmill running can be a nice compliment to your conventional “ground” running.
If you would like to run faster or have noticed a plateau in your current speed regimen, then treadmill running might be a good option for you!
– Marcus Brunson
For more info on treadmill running, check out the following websites/articles:
Treadmill Sprinting: http://www.aspetar.com/journal/viewarticle.aspx?id=73#.V7JqmSMrKt8
Athletic Republic: http://www.athleticrepublic.com/history/frappier-acceleration-forms/