Is there much difference between running on a treadmill vs. outdoors?

It is raining cats and dogs outside with flashes of lighting shooting down. You really don’t want to get drenched yet don’t want to miss your run either. So you opt for completing your training session indoors on a treadmill. A treadmill is a great training tool for runners when weather conditions are not favorable or running outdoors is simply not an option. Running on a treadmill has its benefits.

Reasons You May Choose to Run on a Treadmill

In some cases, treadmill running is a better option. When it is too dark outside or the weather is too icy or slick and potentially facilitating to a fall or injury, treadmill running is a better bet.

If the conditions outdoors are not conducive for you to run safely at a faster pace, you can hop on the treadmill to achieve the same level of exertion without risk.

Speaking of risk, the treadmill belt is more forgiving than hard pavement, offering less impact and making it easier on the body. As a result, the treadmill can be a great option for those coming back into running from injury.

The treadmill is also great for running hills and doing incline training if you do not have access to steep hills. You can create your own resistance using the grade on a treadmill.

Another reason you may opt for treadmill running rather than outdoors is if you have children. Leaving your kids unattended to go for a run may not be the best strategy for your family. Running on a treadmill enables you to get your workout in while keeping your kids safe and supervised.

Comparing Indoor and Outdoor Running

Although running on a treadmill has benefits, there are some differences you should be aware of.

The mechanics of your running stride differ on a treadmill than when you run outside because the machine powers the treadmill belt. When you are on the treadmill, you push off with your quads, unlike outdoor running where you rely more on your hamstrings for momentum. As a result, your hamstrings will not be worked as much on a treadmill.

The terrain also differs on a treadmill versus outdoors. If you are accustomed to running on a treadmill, you must be extra mindful of varying terrain when hitting the pavement or trails outdoors to avoid injury.

Running outdoors offers wind resistance, even in the most ideal outdoor conditions, which is something you do not get inside. Your pace is resultantly much easier on a treadmill. Keep your effort level the same on a treadmill as outside by upping your incline by 1.5 percent to account for the loss of wind resistance.

If you have done the majority of your training indoors, be cautious when moving your runs back outdoors. Transition your outdoor runs gradually to avoid injury and start with an easy, shorter run. Build from there.