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How to Sprint Safely

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 14, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Ok, don't laugh, but I'm scared to sprint on a treadmill. I want to start adding this into my weekly weightlifting and cardio routine, but I'm not sure how to do it. I'm pretty sure I'll fall on my face if I crank up the treadmill level to 10+. I understand the mechanics of stepping off to the sides of the machine, and have seen others do it, but don't have as much faith in my own coordination. Any tips or tricks?

I'd do sprints outside, but I live in a busy urban area. The thought of getting hit by an LA driver seems even more dangerous than falling off a treadmill.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 15, 2012
at 03:03 AM

I do both - sprint on a treadmill and on solid ground, and you're right - way harder on the ground. Requires much more force to propel myself and take very large strides rather than just "running fast." I think there's some good cardiovascular benefits from doing it on a treadmill, but body *mechanics*-wise, I think you get a much tougher challenge to your muscles doing it on the ground.

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7 Answers

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 15, 2012
at 01:04 AM

Have a friend/training partner adjust the speed for you and stand by whilst you run. In a short time you will gain confidence in your ability to run at high speed and be able to do so independently.

1
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 14, 2012
at 09:37 PM

Even in LA they must have a park with a baseball field.

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on September 14, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Just ramp it up slowly. Put the treadmill at 5 and jump on and off a couple of times. Then 5.5, then 6, and so on until 10+ isn't scary.

Side note: sprinting on a treadmill isn't the same as sprinting for real. You're not propelling yourself when on a treadmill. You're just moving your legs fast. It's the huge power generation to actually move your body fast that makes sprinting good. That's not to say that treadmill work isn't tiring or hard, it's just that you're not getting the same benefits.

Accelerating my 180lb body to full speed and then stopping again is much different than just jumping on a moving treadmill and moving my legs fast. So I'd look at other HIIT you can do rather than trying to incorporate treadmill sprinting.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 15, 2012
at 03:03 AM

I do both - sprint on a treadmill and on solid ground, and you're right - way harder on the ground. Requires much more force to propel myself and take very large strides rather than just "running fast." I think there's some good cardiovascular benefits from doing it on a treadmill, but body *mechanics*-wise, I think you get a much tougher challenge to your muscles doing it on the ground.

1
3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

on September 14, 2012
at 08:38 PM

I had the same concern about the treadmill and I started sprint a little over a month ago. Being 6'4" I can't get the right stride on a treadmill so I found a school with a track nearby. There seems to be a lot of muscles that I haven't used in years that are only used for sprinting. I still get sore after each session and I'm 6 weeks into it. It's an amazing workout.

0
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 15, 2012
at 03:14 AM

I do sprints on a treadmill.

I usually walk for a few minutes just to get the blood flowin', as they say. (Around 3.7mph.) My slow running speed is 6mph and my all-out sprint is about 8.5 on a level 3 or 4 incline. (Relatively low incline, I know, but you definitely feel it when you're going faster.)

You don't have to jump on and off. What I do is, for example, 1 minute at 6mph, 1 minute at 6.5, then 1 min walking at 3.2mph, 1 min at 7, 1 back at 3.2, 1 at 7.5, 1 back at 3.2, 1 at 8, 1 back at 3.2, 1 at 8.3...I'll spend a couple of minutes going back and forth in that upper range. You could also up the incline instead of the speed -- or do both. Lots of ways to play around with things.

So it's not all sprinting for me, more like intervals, with increasing speed each time. Depending on the features of the treadmill you use, you can go from 8mph to 3.2 in under 10 seconds, so you don't need to jump off. The walking minute is my "recovery," and full disclosure, sometimes it's more like 90 seconds.

I like intervals/sprinting on the treadmill b/c you can track the times very easily. But like miked said, you get a more physically demanding workout doing sprints on solid ground, where you have to propel yourself horizontally in addition to just moving fast. On a treadmill, the belt moves horizontally for you. Still a good workout, but I can get sore the next day from sprinting on ground, and that never happens from the treadmill.

0
Adb249ff0b1447d86ed308d0265e2b86

on September 14, 2012
at 09:35 PM

Better to do the HIIT sprints on a stationary bike. The treadmill idea doesn't sound good. Aren't there are plenty of grassy open parks in LA? I bought myself some fancy running shoes with spikes last year after reading the paleo recommendations for sprinting. However, I was carrying some heavy equipment up some stairs and before I got to use the shoes I felt a minor pull in my hamstring. I lost the impetus to start sprinting as I didn't want to end up tearing a muscle and limping around like a hamstrung horse.

0
Medium avatar

(3213)

on September 14, 2012
at 09:25 PM

I do sprints on an elliptical, it kicks your ass!

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