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Why Some Treadmills Are Harder To Run On Than Others? Here’s our Answer

Why Some Treadmills Are Harder To Run On Than Others? Here's our Answer

Can Treadmills Be Harder To Run On Depending On The Model?

Using your treadmill at home only to go to a hotel gym when you are away and find the treadmill much harder to use can be disappointing and confusing, leaving you wondering if you ate too many hotel cakes, or if your treadmill at home has been a lie the whole time. 

Well, not to worry, it is true that a treadmill can be harder to run on than other types, and this comes down to the design of the treadmill you are running on and whether or not the treadmill has been recently calibrated. 

To find out more about why some treadmills feel harder than others, other factors that might affect how a treadmill performs and why treadmills can feel harder than outdoor running, we have put together a small guide below with all you need to know. 

If you’re shopping for a good treadmill, check out our other reviews;

Why Does a Treadmill Need To Be Calibrated? 

One of the top reasons and most common causes of a treadmill seeming more difficult than others is if the machine has not been calibrated recently. Calibration is the process that has to be carried out on a treadmill every time you move it or around every six months as part of the maintenance of the machine. 

This term refers to making sure your treadmill is reading speed and incline accurately, for example, if you are running 8mph on a treadmills display you might be running faster than this or slower if your machine has not been calibrated recently. This can explain why some treadmills might be feeling harder than others when you are using the same. 

Other Reasons a Treadmill Can Feel Harder To Run On

Even though a badly calibrated treadmill is the leading reason as to why different treadmills can feel harder to run on, there are a few other reasons that can impact how a treadmill feels when you run on different models, we have listed them out in detail below. 

  • Belt size – Most treadmills will come with a standard size belt, but some models can differ slightly, which can lead you to adjust your stride length slightly without you knowing, making your run feel much harder. 
  • Cushioning – The cushioning of a treadmill refers to how well your treadmill absorbs shocks during use, different cushioning can make you feel harder or softer as you run. 
  • It was set on an incline – Your treadmill might have been on an incline without you knowing, making your typical run feel harder. 
  • Stability – Some treadmills might be more stable than others, and the smallest offset can make your body work harder to keep you balanced. 

Why Do Treadmills Feel Harder Than Running Outside?

As well as treadmills feeling harder to run on than one another, some people also say treadmills can feel harder to run on than running outside. 

This can be true, as running on a treadmill is much less mentally stimulating than running outside and your stride length can be altered. 

We have listed the causes out below. 

  • You have to stick with your pace – Naturally, when running in the outdoors you will lengthen and shorten your stride according to where you are, whether on a treadmill you have to stick with a constant pace the whole time. 
  • There is different stride – Stride can be different to outside running as you are on a moving belt, this can result in shorter strides which requires more energy turnover. 
  • It can be boring – Running on a treadmill is much less mentally stimulating than the outdoors is.
  • You are working different muscles – As the belt of the treadmill pulls your forward, this works more of your quads rather than your hamstrings like running does outside as you have to push yourself forward. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Why Some Treadmills Feel Harder Than Others 

Can treadmill speed be wrong? 

Yes as with any electronic device, treadmill speed can be slightly off, this can be caused if you have not calibrated the treadmill recently.

Why is my treadmill running feel harder? 

Treadmill running can feel harder down to lots of reasons, but personal reasons could be if you have not fuelled your body properly beforehand.

Is running on a treadmill easier than running outdoors? 

Many people do argue running on a treadmill is easier than running outside as the belt is flat and the motor pulls your forward rather than having to propel you forwards.

Last Words 

To conclude, it is possible that treadmills can feel harder to use than others if they have not been calibrated recently, reading lower speeds than you are running, differences in design can also be to blame such as belt size which can impact stride length and incline which can require you to put more effort in than you realise.


Randy Lucas

Randy here - Fitness enthusiast and avid runner - besides running I also love playing with my two German Shepherds Peter and Bruce - oh and I love cooking. I am the Webmaster over at where I ramble about all things fitness in an effort to make the world a healthier place.