Sunday, July 27, 2014

Running on a NordicTrack T20.5 treadmill

After running through more Canberra winters than I care to remember, I've finally given in to my soft side and purchased a treadmill: The NordicTrack T20.5 with "iFit." Canberra isn't Minnesota, so it's possible to run outdoors 365 days a year. Possible, but on a zero Celsius rainy day in July with a southerly wind blowing off the snow, not pleasant.

I joined a local gym in mid-June for 3 months in order to try treadmill running and see if I liked it. The gym has other equipment I use like the Concept2 rowing erg, elliptical machines and stationary bicycles. I enjoyed the warmth of the gym so decided to buy a home treadmill. After a little internet research I chose the NordicTrack T20.5 ($1999 delivered including the iFit module and 12 months' membership of iFit). The treadmill has a 3.5 continuous horsepower motor 0 to 15% incline (8% is bloody hard!) and 0 to 3% decline. The decline feature is great for downhill training (working the quads) and for simulating rolling hills. There's a Youtube video showing the T14.2 model being run on at the top speed of 22 kph. Scary!

So how am I liking it? It's great! Perfect for the distances I want to run — usually 5k (although I completed the 'Isle of Arran' iFit course the other day, which was 8.09k). The iFit module links the treadmill to your laptop or tablet computer. As you run a course (there are many different ones available — or you can design your own), images from Google Earth street view and matched to the treadmill's speed. The images are downloaded instantly every few seconds so not video-like but good enough for the bush. The viewpoint is quite high too, perhaps the height of a bus, so you get a tall view of the scenery you're running through. The treadmill's incline is automatically adjusted, which I've found is sometimes exaggerated from real world courses. Because of this I've been preferring flat courses.

I've been finding treadmill running a little harder than running outside. Heart-beats per kilometre seem to be a little higher on the treadmill — perhaps because the temperature is so warm! I noticed when I turned on the built-in fan to high speed half way through a steady-paced run that my heart-rate declined! The treadmill also demands quite a bit of concentration to stay in the same position relative to the console. Drifting back could be very dangerous! For this reason I've been conservative when choosing speeds for steady runs and interval sessions. As well as the iFit and in-build programmes there are some good treadmill workout ideas on the web — for example, ones such as this on Carrie Tollefson's Youtube channel.

Running 'in the snow' down the Stavio Pass in Italy

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That looks very impressive, Ewen. Especially at 22 kms...! Yikes. It looks a lot more advanced (and fun) than my old T/M. I find I use the T/M just about as much in the very hot weather too! [Miranda}

1:13 pm  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

I'm jealous. I rented a T/M for 3 months. I used it to analyse form and it worked a treat. I expect to see a form video from you later on. I found that I ran a lot more too with less laundry. You can run in next to nothing and who cares! Now, get after it.

2:43 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

I hate running on treadmills because A) it's boring and B) it's hot, as you said. I cannot do it for more than 30 minutes and even that is difficult.
However, the video thingy would cut the boredom factor quite a bit. I guess 5k would be doable.
Well, enjoy your winter runs!

PS: Michael Shelley, wow!

3:53 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

I'm a big fan of combining treadmill running with outdoor running, particularly in winter.

I understand TokyoRacer's sentiment but for those of us who want to run marathons/ultras the treadmill can be a good psychological training tool as well as a good (winter) physical training tool - ie, you have to get used to being bored and in discomfort.

Let's chat about how your run training combination is working when we next have coffee - soon??

6:47 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Yes Miranda - I'm not game to try anywhere near my estimated top speed. And I'm looking forward to some midday runs in summer!

Mark, I'll do a form video (to remind myself how 'unique' my form is) and I'll spare the viewers the shock of seeing me run in 'less laundry' (Speedos).

Bob, just ran through the streets of New York for 48 minutes and the video helped a lot. Agree that 30 minutes or so is closer to the sweet spot for treamill running.

Liz, good point. The treadmill is also a great psychological tool for training the mind and body for even-paced running. Coffee and a chat sounds good - get Ruth and CJ organised ;)

7:03 pm  
Blogger Grellan said...

With that video thingy I just may join you for a run Ewen. Serious machine.

9:07 am  
Blogger Black Knight said...

Interesting, this is a new generation tool! Less boring than the "normal" treadmills.
When I was under training for the marathon I used it but now it is only a spiders' house. Here the weather is always good and it is possible to run outdoors in every season.

5:25 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

That'd be great Grellan! I guarantee it will be less boring than 12 hours on the track ;-)

At least your spiders have a solid house Stefano. If you had one you could walk or run in Australia :)

7:54 pm  
OpenID canute1 said...

That sounds fun.

I would be tempted to seek out exciting mountain routes, but wonder if you were do to do a lot of virtual cross country sessions with visual feedback indicating that you are negotiating irregular terrain while your feet are experiencing a smooth surface, would this blunt one’s skill on irregular terrain.

7:10 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Canute, iFit does have 'off road' courses, so visually you're on irregular terrain and the treadmill goes up and down, but not the sudden ups/downs of a creek crossing for example.
The main problem with the smooth surface as I see it is the repetition of foot landings, which could be injury inducing if you ran for too long. The rolling of the foot on soft/off road surfaces helps prevent injuries in my opinion.

7:09 pm  
Blogger Karla Bruning said...

Looks like a great machine! So much fancier than the 4 treadmills at my gym. I love that it has a decline mode. I've never been on one that does that. Cool that you can run courses too. I do a lot of treadmill running in the winter too. Sometimes I actually like it!

7:34 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

It is Karla. Must say I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would! The decline mode is great - especially when using iFit for rolling courses such as those in Central Park. The declines are also great for improving leg speed and working the quads.

3:05 pm  
Blogger Raina R. said...

What's that saying? If you aren't the lead dog the scenery never changes.
Finally a way around that. :)
Mine needs to be recalibrated.. Spider home / jungle gym.

3:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you buy it from at that price?

8:17 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Anonymous, fitnessdealsonline. It was on special - a run-out model I guess, as it doesn't appear on their website anymore.

9:04 pm  

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