Pros And Cons Of Running On A Treadmill vs Outside

Pros And Cons Of Running On A Treadmill vs Outside
Ask any runner you know, and they’ll probably have a preference as to whether they run inside on a treadmill, or outside in the elements. Either way, there is no right or wrong opinion as to how to get your miles in, whether it be from the spinning of a treadmill in the gym to rolling hills out in your neighborhood. There are pros and cons of each scenario – let’s look at both training styles and you can decide for yourself!

Treadmill Running

While many folks dislike using a treadmill due to the monotony that it may cause, there are some benefits to using this popular piece of gym equipment to log your miles. For one, if you’re concerned about your safety and your schedule is only open for you to run early in the morning, or late at night when it’s darker out, a treadmill is a good option. This also comes into play when there are snowy or rainy days. A treadmill can allow you to work out in an environment with controlled temperatures – and without slick spots or puddles to worry about!

Another bonus to running on a treadmill is that once you set a speed that you’re comfortable to be moving at, you’ll be able to slowly get used to running at a certain pace, especially since there is a belt moving under your feet! This is helpful, and even more so if you’re needing to learn to pace yourself. Treadmills are great tools if you’re working on aiming for a certain mileage time without looking at your watch or phone every few minutes to see if you’re on track.

Granted, running on a treadmill will be slightly different than running outside; after all, conditions between the two can’t be mimicked exactly, especially with variations in the road/terrain. However, studies have shown that adding an incline of 1% to a treadmill routine is similar to running outdoors.

On the flip side, running on a treadmill does have its downfalls – you can only run so fast, the incline only raises to a certain height, and it doesn’t replicate much downhill work. Balance and coordination can tend to be different on a treadmill as well, since you’re not focusing on avoiding tree roots or potholes.

Outdoor Running

When lacing up your sneakers to hit the pavement for a run, there can be what is called a “runners high” which isn’t difficult to imagine, especially if the weather and conditions are ideal for some exercise. Running outside is going to be a bit more work physically than on a treadmill since you have to use your feet to move you forward through your miles rather than having a button pushed and the belt moved for you.

Aside from the different muscles being activated when running outdoors, you also might have an improvement in your bone density. Running on a treadmill dissipates the forces you’re expelling through the ground while pounding the asphalt or concrete will dispel more of those forces through your bones.

While you won’t experience wind or other weather conditions while on a treadmill, that’s where an outdoor experience becomes handy – especially if you’re planning on running a race. We can’t simulate adverse weather conditions (and become accustomed to them) if not actually training with them presently. That is the reason why running outside with wind, sun, and even rain can help boost your mental stamina in case any of those conditions are happening during a race.

Typically, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be able to log your miles outside. However, you do need to be able to dress appropriately for the outdoor weather conditions, and be fully prepared to steer clear of people, tree roots, puddles, and potholes, just to name a few. Resistance training is also something that needs to be considered if you are running outside so that your legs will have the foundation needed to absorb the ground forces from pounding the pavement.

Treadmill vs. Outside Running

When it comes down to it, both treadmill running and outdoor running are beneficial, and both will help improve cardiovascular health. If you’re coming back from an injury and want to start slowly or begin by reducing as much impact on your joints as possible, then starting on a treadmill would be a great option. Weather conditions have an impact on your training as well, so the treadmill can be a good choice if it’s not ideal outside. However, if you’re training for a race, logging some of those training miles outside will help set you up for success come race day. Getting an added dose of Vitamin D on those sunny running days doesn’t hurt, either! Take the time to figure out which type of training works best for you, your schedule, and your overall goals – and remember – you can always incorporate a little bit of both, it doesn’t have to be one or the other!

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