As a runner, you may be wondering whether it’s more beneficial to run on a treadmill or to run outdoors. If you make some adjustments to your running style, you can train just as well inside as you can out in the world, making this largely a matter of personal preference. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of running on a treadmill or running outside.
From a workout standpoint, running on a treadmill is slightly easier than running outside because you’re not encountering any wind resistance. However, because you can adjust the grade of a treadmill to account for this difference, you can usually get just as good of a workout indoors as you can out on a track or trail. According to researchers, setting the treadmill to a one percent incline accurately simulates the conditions of running outdoors.
An obvious benefit to running on a treadmill is that you can do so no matter what the weather. If it’s raining, snowing too hot, late at night, or otherwise unfavorable to run outdoors, the treadmill might be a better choice in those instances.
If you’re training for a specific race, you can also use the computer on the treadmill to simulate the exact race course. You can program the machine for distance, incline, and other conditions to make your training runs as close as possible to your planned race.
Another benefit to running on a treadmill is that it more easily allows you to practice eating and drinking while running, a necessity if you’re training for a marathon or other long race. It’s easier when you’re inside to practice ingesting fluids without carrying those with you.
While these benefits of running on a treadmill are clear, there are some detriments as well. If you only ever run on a treadmill, it can be very difficult to learn how to pace yourself and maintain pace throughout a long run. Because you can set your pace automatically on a treadmill, it might be difficult to do so on your own when race day comes.
Many runners also find themselves bored while running on the treadmill, which may make it difficult to keep up with a regular training routine. It can also make your run seem much longer than it really is when you don’t have scenery and passing distance to keep your mind occupied and mark your progress.
For most serious runners, a combination of regularly running outside with occasional use of the treadmill is the best strategy. As discussed above, the treadmill can be a great training tool, especially if you’re first starting out as a runner. And for those who live in harsh climates, there may be no other choice but to incorporate indoor treadmill runs into the training regime.