I have never been a huge fan of treadmills, but for a lot of people that’s how they run. Often you just don’t have a choice either because of you’re nursing an injury, or the temperature is extreme when you have time. Thinking about treadmills has got me wondering, where would be the most extreme place to use one? Antarctica? Mountain top? Well the most extreme actual place I’ve actually heard of, the space treadmill! Astronauts need to train a lot simply to keep muscle when they’re circling the earth, so a lot of them run in Space.
The most famous treadmill that I know, is part of the International Space Station (ISS) and where it was installed in 2009. Before it was installed they had a naming contest for the node that would be part of the station. Late night comedian Steven Colbert heard about it and got his fans to help him win the contest. The node ended up being called Serenity like NASA originally wanted, but they ended up calling the treadmill – COLBERT, or the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. Steven Colbert seemed happy to have his name in space and I’m sure only NASA knows how many times its circled the earth by now.
Running without Gravity?
I have to say my first thought is that it would be totally amazing to be in space! But if you’re up there for days, weeks, or even a year, you have to worry about the effect of zero gravity. Human beings are meant to live in gravity. How our bodies function and allows us to move around is because of gravity, so training on the treadmill is really important just to keep muscle mass and the skeleton strong. They simulate gravity by using a series of straps on the astronaut as they run and I would think after you’ve been floating around for a while it would be great change to have your feet on some kind of ground.
The treadmill has had a good use since it was put in space since a lot of astronauts are avid runners! Most recently, it was reported British Astronaut Tim Peake, will be running the London Marathon in space at the same time that the race goes off on Earth. It’s exciting to think someone will be running that far in Space! Awesome if he finishes because he’ll definitely be the first man to run a marathon in space! The problem is that just some reporters got inventive and said he would be the first person to run a marathon in space. The problem is it isn’t true. The first person, was Sunita Williams from Needham, MA, who completed the Boston Marathon back in 2007 in space. She even printed out a number to put on the space treadmill as she ran. It was a cool highlight of the race that year and from everything I’ve heard she’s kept running since then. She also appeared on the Colbert Report to talk about the space treadmill. It’d be cool to run in space and I think it would be only thing to keep me on a treadmill.