I can easily run in place at a fair pace for literally hours after calves have been conditioned, burning well over 1,000 calories. I have thought this would roll over into distance running at the same pace, but it doesn't.

Even if I run the exact same speed or a lower speed with movement (and not in place):

1.I tire much easier (though I've lost physical conditioning due to depression, but remain able to run in place endlessly and seemingly never get tired).

2.I can lower my running pace, but still get tired and can't breathe correctly through my mouth (and nose is constantly stuffed and problematic due to sinusitis and congenital shape defomration).

3.None of the above applies anywhere near the same when running in place. For example, I could run in pace as fast as possible, and would hold up breathing well and get an amazing cardio session in -- but trying a slower, jog-ish kind of run murders me after a good 5-10 minutes.

This is the biggest problem I've had in trying to run a proper 5K prior to my depression.

Why can I run in place and not get tired much, even if super intense, but tire running with moving?

2 Answers 2


The physics of running in place

I fear your calorie burn measurements may be off. "Calorie" is a measure of energy transferred to (or work done on) an object when force is applied to the object over a distance.

When you don't move forward, the only direction you move against any resistance, is upward. And during a stationary run, you don't do much up and down movement. Sure, your feet and hands may travel some distance over time, but your center of gravity remains largely on a single point.

According to this website, burning "well over 1,000 calories" is going to take well over 2 hours. And it begs the question; why would you spend your time doing that?

The biology of running

The reason you're not tiring out, is because the intensity of the work is so low, you're not training your cardiovascular system, or your lungs. But if your goal is to run a 5K, then you need to train these things. And the best way to do that, is to increase your intensity and running distance, little by little.

My recommendation

I know it can be demoralizing to realize how short of a distance you can run (been there), but the trick to de-demoralizing yourself, is to set small, achievable goals, write them down, and tick them off.

I'm going to share the ones I made, because I still have this journal as a reminder. I'm Norwegian though, so this is of course translated.

I went for a test-run to see how far I could jog without needing a break. Here's my first goal.

  • by the end of the month, I want to jog 500 meters without stopping or walking

I managed this, because I got to 460 or something. Like I said, small goals.

When that was done:

  • in three weeks, I want to jog 600 meters without stopping

  • I also want to run that previous 500 meters 5 seconds faster

Seeing your progress laid bare - documented, numbers and all - is a good feeling. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.

I kept this going, because I got drafted, and I needed to be able to do a 3K in 15:00 or less. I got 18:11 and puked in a bush. A year later, I got 12:11 and a pat on the back.

  • 1
    I mentioned that I can run extremely fast with high-intensity in place and do not get tired -- and I can run very slow for distance/movement and become tired easily. Your answer does not explain this mystery.
    – Sey Charl
    Sep 2, 2017 at 2:55
  • 1
    I don't need motivation -- I need explanation.
    – Sey Charl
    Sep 2, 2017 at 2:56
  • I did explain this. The reason you're not tiring out, is because the intensity of the work is so low, you're not training your cardiovascular system, or your lungs. You may think the intensity is high, but in reality, you're moving very little, and going nowhere.
    – Alec
    Sep 2, 2017 at 9:12
  • 1
    De-demoralizing, nice.
    – user25968
    Sep 2, 2017 at 18:24
  • 1
    That waiter was so de-demoralizing. We should leave a tip.
    – user25968
    Sep 3, 2017 at 3:18

Treadmill vs Outdoor Running

There are key biomechanical differences between running on a treadmill vs outdoors.

Muscle Demands - Hamstrings & Quads

  • On a treadmill a machine powers the treadmill belt, the mechanics of your running stride are different vs running outside.

  • When running on the treadmill, you use your quads to push off. However unlike outdoor running where you use your hamstrings complete your stride and lift your leg behind you. The propulsion of the belt does much of that work for you.

  • Outdoor running also requires more energy from your quads to propel your body forward.

Running on the treadmill is easier than running outdoors.

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