Originally posted on: December 12, 2012
There is no doubt in my mind that running on a treadmill is very different from running outside!
It is not better or worse - it is more like I said - just different.
To be honest, until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t run on a treadmill since 2010 and had forgotten many of the advantages and disadvantages of using one.
- I run faster on a treadmill. This surprised me a lot, when I started running on them again, I am running faster than I do outside. Why?
- I don’t have to focus on running, I just have to keep up with the speed that the belt is going, which is a lot easier than trying to push or maintain a certain pace by myself.
- No weather to worry about. The artificial environment inside allows me to wear shorts and a t-shirt, so I am not bundled up to battle the cold weather outside. There is no wind to run into (or have at my back) which I really have never liked running into a headwind.
- The footing is always the same. I don’t have to be aware of where I am putting my feet or what I am stepping on - I can just run.
- Softer running surface. Many or most treadmills absorb the shock better and are easier on your body than tar or cement, at least in my opinion.
- Can Use Electronic Distractions. When I run on a treadmill, I can watch ESPN or listen to music, podcasts and audible books to zone out, without worrying about what is going on around me too much. Outside I don't listen to music/books etc and focus on being aware of my surroundings.
- It is safer. It isn't dark (unless you turn-off the lights, no vehicles to dodge, no ice to slip on, no dogs or other animal predators to scare you and generally you are not by yourself when running on a treadmill (if you are at a gym), which can be a huge concern outside.
- You are in control. You can control the speed, elevation/incline and how far you are running. Hell you can even stop it, quickly go find a bathroom (instead of the bushes) and just start right up again. Outside there are a lot of factors you have no control over.
- I am not outside. On a treadmill you do not get to see the glory of mother nature and the changes, that happen before our eyes. You don’t get to feel the wind or sun in your face, the magical feeling of running in that first snow or the sights you see when running on trails, beaches, and everywhere else that you run.
- Montonous. This is the biggest complaint that many people have. After a while the treadmill or as many call it the dreadmill becomes monotonous. Many people tend to get on, set it for one speed and/or elevation and just keep it there. You are running in place and not getting anywhere. Where outside things are constantly changing, runners need to focus on where they are, what they are stepping on, what vehicles or people are around them.
- Bragging rights. The bragging rights you get with other runners when you have braved the elements (remember that run in the Blizzard of 2011 or gee “I ran yesterday and it was -10. Yes I know that non-runners call you an idiot (Yes I am a member of the Idiots Running Club Member #17), but that is part of running outside.
- Treadmills are expensive. To get a good treadmill you have to pay a pretty good chunk of change for one, if you don’t buy one for your home you need to go to a gym
- Having to go to a gym. Gym memberships a generally not cheap, you need to travel, sometimes sign-up and wait to get to use a treadmill, many gyms have a time-limit on how long you can run-before someone can tell you to get off, the auto shut-off that most gyms have programmed into their cardio equipment (30 or 60 minutes) and having to deal with “lunk heads” while there.
- Falling. I have almost fallen a couple of times when my foot lands funny on the side of the belt, when going slower this isn’t a problem, but when the “mill” is going 10 mph you could be a splat mark on the wall behind the treadmill and probably be injured in some way, beyond just your pride. Plus you generally will have an audience to witness your gracefulness. Yes you can fall outside, but it is well - different.
- Challenge. This totally depends upon the person, but it is too easy to just simply jump on a treadmill, set it to a certain speed/incline, leave it there do your time and move on. We have all done or seen people do this and then we/they wonder why it is so monotonous.
- Frustrating. Have you ever tried to use one of the pre-set programs - enough said.
that treadmills have a place in my running life, even though I prefer to run outside.
Running on the “mill” is helping my legs to remember “how” to run faster. Faster than I would push myself outside and you know something - knowing that I can run at a faster pace helps my confidence A LOT for when I want to go faster outside. I have already run that fast on the treadmill, so I "know" that I can do it.
The treadmill is easier for me than running outside, it doesn’t take the same amount of focus or effort. That is why I don’t use my treadmill times as my overall PRs and I keep track of them separately. Example - my PR this year for the 5K is 21:23 and my treadmill PR is 20:33. In my opinion, my personal records, need to be done outside against the elements, without any motorized assistance.
Actually, since Mid-November when I started to run on a treadmill again, I have enjoyed adding it to my repertoire of tools, for training myself to run a lot little faster. I don’t use a treadmill all the time, only 2-3 days a week (Monday and Thursday for intervals/tempo runs and those days it is too cold in my opinion to safely run more than a couple of miles (under 15 degrees with a windchill), so I haven’t hit the dreadmill curse yet.
The bottom-line for me is that I (sssshhhhhh) am enjoying my jaunts on the treadmill, but it will never eclipse my love for running outside.
It is just a part of my running that is - well different.
What are some of the differences you find between running on a treadmill and running outside?