It’s winter. You’ve been reading about barefoot running. You want to try it, but… well… its winter. You have a treadmill sitting in the basement, why not give it a try?
As much as I despise dreadmills, they can be a viable substitute for outdoor running. Here are five tips that will get you up and running. Literally.
1. Learn pawback. Normally on solid, you want your foot to move vertically up and down, like in the poorly-drawn picture below:
On a treadmill, the moving belt presents a problem. If you use the same foot movement, a shearing force will be created at the point of contact between your foot and the belt. The result: friction. This is the cause of nearly all treadmill-induced blisters.
To prevent this shearing force, begin moving your foot backward immediately before your foot touches the deck. This is known as pawback. The idea is to match the speed of the belt so there is no friction at the moment of impact.
The trick to mastering pawback is learning to keep the point of impact under your center of gravity. This requires a slightly different form that doesn’t really generalize to runing on solid ground. Because of this, I do not recommend people routinely switch between treadmill and solid ground running.
2. Account for the heat. Most treadmills generate significant heat. The friction of your body weight on the belt traveling over the deck causes friction which causes heat. Some treadmills are better than others. If your treadmill turns into a griddle after a half mile, the effect can be minimized by moving. I prefer the following pattern:
This will allow the deck to cool in each spot,which slows the heating. To aid this process, I sometimes place a box fan on one side of the treadmill to oincrease airflow.
3. Stay away from the edges. This one is self-explanatory, but I’ll add the video for the Hell of it:
4. Know your limits. As is the case with anything you do barefoot, know your limits. Keep your pace and distance within your capabilities, especially if you are a novice. Learning to run barefoot on treadmills is a skill like any other. Start slow, recognize your limits, then advance from that point. Use your body as a guide.
These four tips should help you run barefoot on a treadmill. My best advice, however… get outside as soon as you can!
Want to discuss this in more detail? Check out this topic in the BRU forum: http://barefootrunninguniversity.com/forums/index.php?topic=5.0
Extra: Special thanks to those that posted a review for my book on Amazon. If you have read the second edition, I’d appreciate a review. The review page can be found here.
Also, I am receiving some questions about the second edition on Kindle. It is available, but Amazon won’t link it to the printed second edition. The Kindle version can be found here: Click me!