Ironman athletes, if you struggle to run with a high cadence, treadmill running can help
Today I was reminded of the benefits of a treadmill for running workouts, especially when legs are tired. Wanted to remind you too.
Background – my butt has been sore every week for the last 4 weeks. Legs have been pretty sore as well. The end of the week is usually when I feel the load of my training and today I needed to give my legs a break.
I jumped on the treadmill for my run and it was done at an easy pace with 1 minute accelerations. Average cadence for the run was 97 with accelerations completed at 114 cadence, with good hip extension and very little fatigue from the workout. To do this same workout on the road, I would have stressed the muscles more than I wanted to.
Why is running on the treadmill beneficial?
If you are an ironman triathlete looking to improve your run performance off of the bike, the best way to do this is learning to run with a higher cadence. Running at a higher cadence reduces ground contact time and is less dependent on leg strength, which is significantly compromised in an Ironman. Running speed is determined by stride length x stride rate. Your stride length will be compromised in an Ironman and if you don’t have a well developed cadence pattern, then big time slowdown and fatigue is inevitable. Same applies to a half Ironman.
Running on the treadmill allows you to develop the motor patterns to improve your run cadence, while still allowing good hip extension. As you know, cadence without hip extension is equivalent to spinning in the small chain ring with no power behind the pedals.
If you struggle to run with a high cadence, it isn’t always endurance related. Often it can be the result of under developed motor patterns in that cadence range. The treadmill allows you to develop those motor patterns without a big load on the body.
Ideal cadence? My goal for all my athletes is to run at 180 -190 foot strikes per minute. The higher the cadence range, the less the athlete will slow down (assuming the training is there).
Give the treadmill a chance as you head into this Ironman season. For those who hate the treadmill, choose a flat and soft surface such as a track to complete your workout.