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Training: Treadmill vs. Outdoor

One of the great debates amongst the running community has to be whether using a treadmill is a great training tool or a waste of time. Many die-hard runners won’t step foot on one while the other segment of runners believe it’s a convenient and useful piece of equipment to have. Like anything in life the treadmill vs. outside running theory has different pros and cons.  Here I provide a few pros and a few cons for the treadmill.

Treadmill Pros

  • Convenience: Great for those who have kids to be able to run while still at home.  For those who have to wake up early or get home late, the accessibility to a treadmill makes training more convenient.
  • Avoid the Elements: Rain, sleet, snow, ice, heat, wind? Doesn’t matter when you have a roof over your head and a moving track for you to run on.  Traffic lights, cars, pedestrians, dogs are all avoided when you are on a treadmill.
  • Alter the running course: For those wanting to run more uphill or at a faster speed can be simply changed with the press of a button.
  • Easy on the legs: With a treadmill you always have the same surface to land on compared to hard concrete you pound on while running outside.
  • Focus: While on the treadmill you can lose track of the fact that you’re on a grueling run by watching your favorite show or read a book and before you know it you’ve already surpassed your goal for the day.

Treadmill Cons:

  • Price: Buying a treadmill to some can be an out of reach purchase compared to tying your shoes and stepping outside.
  • Boring: Running without going anywhere can feel monotonous after a while. The outdoors gives you new scenery to take in which in return can make you feel like you’re going places.
  • Muscle Activation: With a treadmill you are using your quads to push off and little activation of the hamstrings due to the treadmill finishing off each stride for you. Dominant quad strength and weak hamstrings leads to knee pain and muscle tears in the hamstrings.
  • Doesn’t prepare you for races: Those who rely heavily on treadmills to train for an event aren’t prepared for different race situations you can only get by training outside.  Variables such as the wind or heat.
  • Finding your pace: While on a treadmill your pace is a constant compared to outside where you control the pace you need or would like to run at.

Overall, treadmill versus outside running have their own advantages and disadvantages.  The treadmill is a great training tool but one shouldn’t become too reliant on it if they are training for an upcoming event.  It’s all about what you feel is the best way to get the most out of your runs by doing what you’re comfortable with overall.

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