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Treadmill versus Outdoor Running

by John
(Penn Laird, Virginia, USA)

Other than boredom are there any major drawbacks from running solely on the treadmill? I feel that when I run on a treadmill it is much easier than running outside. Do you know if this is true, or maybe I just am not maintaining a consistent pace outside?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thank you for your question about treadmill running. There are no major drawbacks from running solely on the treadmill, but there are some things you need to take into account.

Running on a treadmill is easier as the resistance is lower. In addition to that you are not plagued by weather, uneven roads, traffic lights etc. Because of the lower resistance, if you want to make your treadmill running more like running on the road, then I would advise to set it at an incline of 1-2%.

When you are running solely from a fitness or weight loss perspective I would not worry about that too much maybe, but if you are training for a road race that is something you need to take into account. You don't want to trick yourself into believing that you are this lean mean running machine. When training for a road race do make sure that you go out and run outside often as well.

Running on a treadmill by the way is a great way of doing interval work. When you are running intervals outside it is very tempting to slow down for the last few. On a treadmill, slowing down means falling off so you can usually push yourself just that little bit more.

And I also like the treadmill for the in-built programs they usually have. Some crazy hill and cardio work with different speeds is just what the doctor ordered after staring at a computer screen the whole day! And treadmills offer a very pure way of measuring progress because everything stays the same from one session to another.

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By the way, when running on a treadmill it is advisable to make sure you turn on a fan, open a window or so in order to help you cool down. If you don't you'll start to get hot a lot faster, which will push your heart rate up as well. This is annoying if you do any kind of running with a heart rate monitor and want to stay in a particular heart rate zone.

Hope this helps.
Also see my page about treadmill running.

Kind regards,

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