In the third installment of my blog series on the use of treadmills for sprint training, I’d like to address an issue that is often held as gospel by many on the anti-treadmill side of the aisle. Because the issue isn’t super clear-cut we’ll look at it in the form of a question.
Does performing sprint training on a treadmill negatively affect sprint mechanics for overground running?
I’m personally not aware of any research that indicates this would be the case however there likewise isn’t any research to say that it wouldn’t. Several top coaches are adamantly opposed to ever using treadmills. Personally, I’m a little indifferent. I don’t really know. We’ve already addressed the fact that kinematics and kinetics on a treadmill and overground running are a little different. Does this mean that running on a treadmill would screw up mechanics for overground running? I don’t know, but if it does, that means we probably have to say the same thing about running in flats (as opposed to spikes), hill sprints, stadium running, assisted and resisted running, etc. All of these forms of sprint training alter mechanics greatly from overground sprinting. Many of the coaches that demonize treadmills would never give up these training methods. Perhaps, what causes the beef is that treadmill sprinting is supposedto be the same as overground sprinting and, as already shown, it isn’t. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? I don’t know and I’m not aware of any research to say one way or the other. I do know that there are some highly respected sprint coaches who would never allow there athletes to step on a treadmill for sprinting training. Others, mainly coaches from outside of the track community, swear that the high speed treadmill can only improve mechanics.