The 1% Incline Rule and Pilot Mountain (Recipe: Cinnamon Chicken)

Have you heard that you should set your treadmill incline to 1% to help mimic running outdoors? I’m sure I’ve mentioned it in some post before.

The idea behind this practice is that the energy cost of running at a given pace on the treadmill is slightly lower than it is outdoors because you don’t have to push against air resistance. For the same reason, you also dissipate body heat more readily outdoors than you do on the treadmill. When you raise the angle of the treadmill belt to 1%, this discrepancy disappears and running on the treadmill is no longer “easier” than running outdoors.

The 1% rule comes from a study conducted by researchers at the University of Brighton, England, in 1996. What the researchers actually found was that the energy cost of running on the treadmill was about the same as the energy cost of running outdoors at paces of 8:03 per mile and slower. The energy cost of running on the treadmill was lower than running outside only at paces of 7:09 per mile and faster and was equal when the treadmill was at a 1% incline. This is because air resistance increases at faster paces when one is running outdoors.

However, this interpretation is based on the assumption that matching the energy cost of indoor and outdoor runs makes them fundamentally equal, and there’s reason to believe this isn’t true.

A 2014 study by researchers at the State University of Maringa in Brazil demonstrated that runners are faster outside than on a treadmill!  Eighteen recreational runners were asked to perform one-hour time trials on a treadmill and on an outdoor track. On average, they covered 11.8K on the treadmill and 12.2K on the track. In other words, they performed 3.3 percent better outdoors. Yet their heart rates (an indirect marker of energy cost) were lower on the treadmill, indicating that outdoor running was “harder.”  Interesting, right??

But there may be an explanation for this. Running performance is not determined by how fast the heart is beating. Rather, it’s determined by a runner’s conscious perception of effort. In other words, it’s not how hard your body is working that matters—it’s how hard you feel you’re working. And even though the body works harder when running outdoors than it does when running on a treadmill, running outside feels easier.

It’s all starting to make sense!

In the above study, the subjects reported equal ratings of perceived effort in both the indoor and outdoor 10K time trials. That’s because their perception of effort determined how hard they ran.

Why is perceived effort higher, and performance consequently reduced, on the treadmill? Samuele Marcora, an exercise physiologist at the University of Kent who studies the relationship between perceived effort and endurance performance, says that running outdoors: 1. Produces more airflow against the body; 2. Involves a visual perception of movement that is lacking indoors, and 3. Promotes more dissociative thinking through greater overall visual stimulation. All of these factors have been shown to reduce perceived effort.

So, I guess I was wrong about the 1% rule in this regard!  However, I read somewhere that having the treadmill at a 1% incline is better on the shins and calves than when it is set at 0%.  I’ll have to look into this and get back to you.

OR if you really want to train on an incline, climb a mountain! Before flyball two weekends ago, several of us planned on hiking Pilot Mountain in North Carolina. Well, the rain got the better of us (as did the GPS since it took us the wrong direction and separated the two cars we were in), but we did get to hike a little bit! And now we are determined to go back and hike the whole thing! There are several different trails in the area, so we have plenty to choose from!

DSC_9764 DSC_9758DSC_9725 DSC_9716 DSC_9698 photo 1                                  IMG_0659 IMG_0662 DSC_9745 IMG_0657 DSC_9732

Fun Fact:  People lost two times more fat when they trained their entire body three days a week compared with working each muscle group only once a week according to a University of Alabama study.

Food for Thought:  Cheddar cheese.  A slice packs 20% of daily calcium needs.

1 year ago: And We Are Packed!! (Recipe: Shrimp Fried Rice)

Quote of the Day:

“A race is like a work of art that people can look at and be affected by in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding.” -Steve Prefontaine

So, I LOVE this chicken recipe.  LOVE. I have made it several times, and it goes perfectly with a little basmati rice. Just sayin’. Definitely give this recipe a try!

Cinnamon Chicken

Cinnamon Chicken


1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon raw sugar


– Saute onions in olive oil.

– Turn heat on low, place chicken breast on top of onions and add the remaining ingredients.

– Bring liquids to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer.

– After 15ish minutes, pull the chicken apart into big shreds and let cook for 15-20 more minutes.

– If the sauce is too liquidy, uncover the pot completely to simmer.

– Serve with basmati rice.

This entry was posted in Callie!, Envy, Individual Workouts, Nutrition, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The 1% Incline Rule and Pilot Mountain (Recipe: Cinnamon Chicken)

  1. Pingback: Nile and Castle Fitbit Badges + NRR Flyball Weekend! (Recipe: Dulce de Leche Cookie Bars) | Oven Lovin' Runnin'

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