Technogym, our favourite provider of high-end workout machines that look like something out of Star Trek: The Gym today introduces a new type of treadmill to the UK: Skillrun.
This is faster, wider and more advanced than your average treadmill, and as well as offering the usual upward incline for hill-run training – up to a brutal 25% – it also declines, down to -3%. That is great news in terms of more complete and realistic training (and also probably a godsend when you're feeling a bit tired).
The Skillrun is also faster than other treadmills, reaching up to 30kph (18.6mph) versus, Technogym says, "a maximum of 20-25kph (15.5mph) on a majority of treadmills currently on the market."
It just so happens that 18.6mph is also slightly faster than Mo Farah’s average mile-run speed.
Seasoned runners will appreciate the wider belt of the Skillrun. It's 22 inches instead of the customary 20, so you don't feel like there's a risk of clipping the edges.
As well as compatibility with Apple GymKit, which lets the machine share data with your Apple Watch with just a tap, you also get live biofeedback from Skillrun. The display tells you where you’re putting your weight, cadence, and whether your stride is even. This can help you adjust how you run to make yourself more efficient and less injury-prone and the feedback is colour coded, if you please.
Programmes include your more basic Cardio Fit, with fast/slow and uphill/downhill intervals, but also Speed and Agility Drill, with alternate sprints and "coordination exercises", which sounds intriguing.
Skillrun isn't just about building endurance and losing a bit of weight, it's heavily focussed on power training.
There's a simulation of parachute running, which means in practice that the Skillrun's resistance increases as you get faster. That just sounds like masochism to me, but the hardcore will love it.
The machine also does an impression of a sled push – with initially very strong resistance lessening as you get faster – and it can "create the feeling of sled pushing while on grass, for extra difficulty". A 'Strong Legs' programme even mixes sled resistance training, lunges and uphill runs, for an overall effect I'd imagine is rather testing.
Skillrun is part of a new wave of gym machines aimed at those who are already fit and want to get fitter. It's probably not the one to make a beeline for on January 2, while your BMI is lurking around the high 20s, and your body composition is 10% muscle, 70% egg-nog. Just get out of the way and let me use it.
"The SKILL line," says Technogym, "is the first line of luxury equipment to have been developed in collaboration with athletes, trainers and academic research institutes to ensure it delivers a true cardio workout." Now feel the burn.