In my opinion, (which I agree with 100%), if you want to go for run, by all means do it outside. We spend enough of our lives inside – at work, at home, in the car, etc… Fresh air and sunlight are essential for good health. Personally, I find treadmills somewhat boring since I feel like I never get anywhere. Also, if you stumble outside, you can probably catch your balance and keep going. If you stumble on a treadmill, it can be disastrous! – OUCH!
However, there are times & reasons when a treadmill workout is actually a good way to go.
- When the weather is really bad outside – downpours, extreme cold, extreme heat, high winds, etc…then run a mile or two on the treadmill. It makes no sense to go outside in the extremes if you don’t have to. This is from both a health and safety approach. In fact, if you’re the type of runner who would even consider training in those elements, you may need an easier day anyway.
- If you are just getting back into running, a treadmill can be a great way to learn what a given pace feels like. I prefer to do this on a track, but the local track has been down for repairs. I’ve found the treadmill a great way to do my “track workouts”.
- While you are on vacation, a treadmill in the hotel will be there when you can run. It won’t matter if it’s dark, or an unfamiliar city.
- If you are somewhere flat, and want to train for hills, you can set the incline to mimic a hilly course.
- Treadmills tell you all sorts of good stats: Distance, time, pace, calories burned, etc…
- Missed your run today? Hop on the treadmill while watching T.V. or listening to your music – sometimes this is a good enough reason since I don’t recommend wearing headphones while running, but plenty of times I wish I had some motivating music to keep me going.
I’m sure other runners could rattle off numerous other benefits, but these are the ones that impress me. I would offer a couple of suggestions though:
- Start off slow and increase your pace gradually if you are not used to a treadmill. Some models accelerate rapidly toward the pace you set it at. This can catch some people off guard. (I speak from experience.)
- If you can set the incline, set it to at least a 1% grade. This will more closely mimic outside “flat” terrain.
Hopefully that helps put into perspective the pros of using a treadmill when running outside just isn’t an option for you.
John Noce is a runner and running coach in Asheville, NC. He has been a runner since 1984, and has run Cross Country in Junior High, High School and College. John has also run countless road races ranging from 1 mile to the Half Marathon.
You can learn more about John Noce at: http://www.ashevillerunningcoach.com.