Moss, R. F., Caterisano, A., Patrick, B. T., Goodwin, F. J., & Leblanc, N. (2007). Comparison of VO2, ventilation, heart rate and blood lactate between treadmill and free range running. ACSM Annual Meeting New Orleans, Presentation Number, 1417.

"Tradition has that running on the treadmill has a lower oxygen uptake for a given pace, due to loss of air resistance, when compared to free range running. Often, it is suggested that a 1% incline be used during treadmill running to compensate for air resistance to make the costs similar".

The purpose of this study was to compare metabolic and physiologic data between treadmill running and free range running. Male runners (N = 11) completed six runs of 3,200 m at a fixed pace on four different models of treadmills, an all-weather track, and a flat asphalt road. Each S completed a 3,200 m run on the 400 m all-weather track. VO2, ventilation and heart rate were monitored.

There were no significant differences in VO2 between the four treadmills; however, two treadmills had a significantly higher VO2 cost than the all-weather track, with no differences between treadmills and the flat asphalt road. Blood lactate was significantly higher on one treadmill than the other three treadmills but was very similar to those obtained on the all-weather track and flat asphalt road. Stride rate was the same for all conditions.

Implication. Treadmill running has similar metabolic costs to free range running. Training on the treadmill could replace track and/or road workouts without adding any grade to the treadmill.

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