I stopped by the gym recently with a short time window for a workout, planning to run quarter-mile repeats until I had to hit the showers. To my dismay, all the treadmills were taken – except for one in the corner.
Ah, the TrueForm Runner.
The TrueForm Runner isn’t a “treadmill” in the traditional sense: there’s no motor. The belt is curved upwards at either end (like the bottom half of a hamster wheel), so that you accelerate when you’re closer to the front, and decelerate when you back up. On a normal treadmill, the motorized belt cuts out some of your workload by assisting your leg turnover. On the TrueForm, meanwhile, your legs are the only thing powering this belt. There’s a battery-powered display to tell you how fast you’re going, but otherwise, this machine is all manual.
I had never run on one before, but with the time crunch I was facing and the thought that “Meh, this can’t be worse than the Assault AirBike,” I hopped on.
The first thing I noticed? It took me a few minutes to find my groove – figuring out where to run in the center of the belt so that I wasn’t constantly running uphill, nor was I about to fly off the back. I found my sweet spot near the middle, but just a little closer towards the front so that I was able to accelerate.
Another thing? I got gassed, and quickly. Normally during a sprint workout, I feel pretty good for most of the interval, even if it’s a tough pace. On the TrueForm Runner, I was huffing 20 seconds in, and I wasn’t going as fast as I normally do. Plus, my pace was all over the place – I’d get a pretty good speed going close to the front of the belt, and then I’d slip back and my pace would slow dramatically as it became much harder to push the belt.
Finally, it should come as no surprise that the TrueForm Runner forces you to be, well, true to your form. Your core works a lot harder to stabilize on the unstable belt, requiring strong, upright posture. Thanks to lower handrails, your arms have more freedom to pump and assist you than on a regular treadmill. Finally, on a regular treadmill, runners often get ambitious and run at a faster set pace- which can lead you to overextend your stride and potentially injure yourself. On a TrueForm Runner, meanwhile, it’s impossible to overextend your strike, keeping your stride length in check.
Eight quarter-mile repeats later, I survived my workout, gasping for breath and nerdily thinking, “I can’t wait to see what my FitBit says about my heart rate.” The next time you find yourself craving a refresh on your boring old treadmill workout, jump on a TrueForm Runner for a fast walk or a speed session and see what your true form turns out to be.