You can ask a group of runners whether the treadmill is better or outside is better, but you'd never get a straight answer. The Treadmill makes you keep the pace up, but running outdoors in a lovely environment is a not-so-secret-joy of every runner. But what's the best option?
Well to be honest, there are benefits to both so let's break them down now and you can choose for yourself.
Why You Should Run Outside
If you we start off by looking at the physical benefits, there a loads. For starters, you can't control the terrain. The ups and downs of the roads, the twists of the paths force you to activate different leg muscles that aren't active on a straight and even treadmill run. What this means is that when you're racing, you'll have a lower chance of injury because your muscles will be stronger than if you were just to focus on treadmill running.You also need to propel yourself forwards when you're running on concrete, but on the treadmill, the moving belt does half of the work. So by running on the treadmill, you're kind of doing less work than you would be for the same distance outside which would work to your disadvantage when it comes to race day.
And on the topic of racing, you'll never find a championship race on the treadmill. You need to train in the right environment, whether that's cross country, on the road or on the track. By being outdoors on the right course, you'll gain a psychological edge because you're used to the obstacles and feelings that come from running outside, which will work to your advantage when you're racing. You also get used to controlling the pace when you're out there. In fact, According to Joel Fuller, Ph.D of Macquarie University you can push yourself to similar speeds when you're outside. This is quite surprising when you think of all of the uncontrollable factors of outdoor running - the terrain, the air resistance and the climate, but this is to do with how running outside is perceived to be tougher than running inside. Due to this, athletes tend to select slower pace than they are capable of on the treadmill, so actually train at slower paces.
Be it a 5K, Mile or 100m, if you get used to controlling the pace outside more often, you'll be able to keep the pace up outside, besting all of the runners that rely on the speed of the belt beneath them on the treadmill to keep the pace up.
There's more benefits to running than just physical health - there's many mental health benefits. When you've put on your running socks, trainers and have fully laced up, ready to go for a run in lovely weather, there is a different sort of energy and adrenaline that surges through any passionate runner's legs. Even if it's raining cats and dogs, absolutely pouring rain and you're ready to run through the wet, there's a satisfaction knowing that you're out there and others aren't. There are all sorts of mental benefits to choosing to run outside rather than on the 'dreadmill'. Research done by PubMed Shows that running outside has all sorts of psychological benefits that are unmatched by the monotony of the gym. You'll experience less tension, anger and depression with an overal boost in energy when you run outside compared to running inside.
Why You Should Run On The Treadmill
The Treadmill is definitely still beneficial. It's a completely controlled environment - which is great! You get to choose the pace, intervals and the incline. There are no external factors like people, traffic and undulating terrains that you need to worry about. You can focus solely on running (no pun intended).
Some running purists will tell you to avoid the treadmill at all costs, but that's not necessarily the right way to do it. When you run on the treadmill for a sustained amount of time it gets you used to running at such speeds and maintaining those speed. You push the pace even when you're tired. The treadmill is that extra motivation.
Although the obstacles that you need to dodge outside can help train other muscles, there's a time where running on the treadmill will be better for your body. That's when you want to minimise the impact on your bones and joints. The belt is cushioned and the lower impact helps prolong healthiness. The Peloton Tread instructor, Selena Samuela, says "Running on a cushioned belt is certainly more forgiving than running on hard a surface." So know when to recover and know when to push it.
There's another sort of safety to be aware of too. Your general safety. It's not always safe to run outside alone when it's dark out. You can't see the people in front of you, the parked cars, the sharp turns, the junctions, the monsters. There are a whole host of things that you realise when you run during the day that you can't seat night or early in the morning. So you might want to stick to the gym here. Some of us may choose to run outside anytime of the year, but in the winter, it may be better for some of us to run indoors in the warmth where there's a lower chance of muscular strains, and we might opt for the air conditioned option in the summer heat.
So overall, I know I didn't answer your question with a definite 'treadmill' or' outside', but I hope I've given you something to think about and hopefully you'll train differently after reading this!
Leave a comment down below to let us know if you like the treadmill or outdoor running more!