There are two types of treadmills in this world, and they are not created equal. There are dreadmills, which run on a traditional belt system, shoddy at best. Then there are high-performance Woodway treadmills that use a ball-bearing system designed to eliminate slipping. Woodway treadmills provide for a much more stabilized and reactive run that helps a runner achieve a more efficient stride. Increased efficiency means improved performance and reduced risk of injury, and who doesn’t want that? Conventional dreadmills absorb a lot of the runner’s energy, while the surface of Woodways are designed to give energy back to the runner in a way similar to a Mondo track surface, without the turns and impending muscle imbalances! Check out this short 2 min video for a better understanding of why Woodways are the way to go:
Anyone who knows me knows my obsessive love for Woodways; I call them my babies. I think I have such affection for them because they have treated me so well over the years. And trust me, I was a bit of a skeptic at first. During my first coaching stint at Cal-Berkeley, my boss/head coach Tony Sandoval (a master of developing speed in distance runners) used Woodways for individualizing workouts during track season. Most athletes had 1-2 interval workouts a week on Woodways. At first, this was a very unusual concept for me because I came from a program (like most others) where we ran as a team; same workout, same time, same place. Over my 3 years at Cal I witnessed how valuable Woodways were for improving performance; my final year we had 2 women run top-5 times in the country in the 3,000m and 5,000m and we qualified a Distance Medley Relay team to NCAAs. What I think was even more telling was that in previous years our top women had also been the most injury-prone. Training and using an incline on Woodways (compared to the track, hard dirt, or pavement) reduced a lot of the impact that previously led to bone injuries.
After coaching at Cal, when I began to train and compete professionally again, I found myself using Woodways a lot. Compared to college, I was now trying to manage a whole new level of musculoskeletal issues and imbalances. I dealt with plantar fasciitis that seemed to get worse with monotonic running on flat land. I also had regular tightness in my left hip region that would cause me to feel flat, and at times cause extreme pain; I felt like the pain was exacerbated by repeated turns on the track. I grew to appreciate the reduced impact on my body and recognize the aerobic and muscular power I got from running at an incline on Woodways. I actually ran my PR in the mile (4:39) during this time in my career!
Now, as a personal trainer and running coach, I am again seeing the huge benefits of Woodways with my clients. I can have runners of all fitness levels doing workouts right next to each other!! Having someone who runs 9-minute mile pace training next to someone who runs 6-minute mile pace cannot happen outside on a track! I think that’s my favorite part of our concept for a treadmill studio: no matter what your fitness level, you have a unique environment to train in with the resources and energy to make the most out of your fitness!