Treadmill vs outside

I'm new here, so apologies if this has been discussed before!

I have just started running outside (with a GPS watch), whereas previously all my running was on a treadmill.

I've found it so much tougher outside, it's really depressing! Either i stick to my treadmill speed and can only manage half the distance i would normally expect to do, or i run at a comfortable pace, which is about 1 mph less than i would normally run indoors.

Is this just me or do others find a big difference? For what it is worth, my outside run is mainly round the local park, and about 20% of it is on road.


  • do you set your treadie at an incline of 1.5 or 2?
  • I tend to set my treadmill to +1mph to my outside speed to get the same as an outside workout, so yours sounds about right. Running on a treadmill is easier than running outside :)
  • My gym is like walking in to a time warp. I swear the average age of equipment is more than average age of members.
    Anyway, as a result the treadmills don't have a facility to add any incline, so i run "flat".

  • I personally wouldn't set an incline on your treadmill to replicate running outside as is doesn't use the leg muscles in the same way. Although that's good for all round toning, if you clock up loads of miles on the tready it'll build your calves up in the wrong places.
  • Ben - No problem there, just run comfy and work on the distance first. The speed will come later.

    It's all good.

    Pick a race and have fun :)
  • Outside you use forward and upward propulsion, whereas the treadie does half the job for you due to the ground flying beneath you. Incline imitates it a bit but I'd say just get out there.
  • ok, that's a great help. thank you.

    I won't stress now about having to match my treadmill times when i am outside!
  • Getting out there and seeing the local area whistle by as you struggle up your own version of Everest is what outdoor running is all about. There is no comparison as far as I'm concerned. Treadmills are way to easy to get off and offer no challenge what-so-ever in my humble opion.

    Most runners I know would rather have nothing to do with a tread mill even if it's snowing outside!

    Get out there and breath some fresh air. Your body will catch up quicker than you think!
  • you are dead right there marc -outdoors all the way.
  • I think outside is easier - purely from a boredom perspective. I get soooo bored on the treadmill, whereas getting out and about offers more to keep you going.
  • There is no doubt running at the same speed on a treadmill is a lot easier. I can run 10km in under 34mins on a treadmill, but 38mins is about where I'm at on the road. I do about half of my sessions on the treadmill and half on the road. When on the treadmill, I find that it acts as a superb "pacemaker" and doesn't allow me to "slack". I set the speed, and either maintain that speed throughout, or move it up slightly, never down. It's also softer on your legs than the road, thus serving as a handy "off-road" alternative.
  • Well having gotten over the initial shock of planning a 6 mile run (Comfortable in 45 mins on a treadmill) and then having to walk after 4 miles and eventually taking 55 minutes to complete the run, I am now improving outdoors. Although i still find it frustrating that i can not do the times/speeds i am used to on a treadmill!

    I always quite enjoyed treadmill running as i could "shut off" for a while, and just get into a comfortable rhythym (also i could watch sky sports which i don't have at home!).

    I have to admit i still prefer treadmill running at the moment as i dont have to get odd looks from people as i wheeze past them while they are walking their dog, or avoid the various obstacles that invariably get in the way etc. etc.

    That said i'll stick with outdoor running for now, as i want to go in for a few races and i know treadmill running alone would not be ideal preparation.
  • Boredom factor aside - I'm convinced that treadmill running is harder.

    Over the past year, I've ended up having to do a lot of my speedwork sessions in the gym on a treadmill - simply 'cos I'm doing them in my lunch hour, with no usable roads nearby.

    My times are significantly faster on the roads - even when I'm doing the same distances (eg 5k or 10k) at the end of a triathlon. Rarely get sub-20 5k indoors, but outside (during tri), no problem at all.

    I may just be a freak though.
  • I think the difference is that, when using a treadmill, you can force yourself to run at a set pace for a set amount of time, regardless of how you feel - I never touch the speed controls once I'm up and running.

    I find that's a good discipline for when you're running outside - I'm less tempted to back off when I feel like I'm tiring. Does that make sense? It does to me, anyway.
  • makes sense to me, but surely if you're less tempted to back off when a speed is set on the treadmill, your treadmill times would be faster than road times?
  • I never get sub-20 5k on the treadie either - but then again I never get one outside.
    However, I agree with Wickett - I find it easier to do anything other than intervals outside and my pace is better (although still a plod!)
  • I hate treadies - hot and stuffy, no air, sweat pouring off and dripping down your nose, boredom, pretend Arnie Schwarzeneggers poncing about, versus fresh air, varied scenery, and my dog running with me, no contest. Give me outdoors every time.
  • I find treadmills harder also,, I can never get a sub 20min 5k on a treadmill,

    So if ever running indoors I just ignore the numbers and step up the speed until it feels OK, and try and up it for the last few mins.

    No numbers to distract you outside,, just hills!
  • I can run faster outside than on a treadmill too...I always feel a bit freaked out trying to go fast on a treadie and think I am going to fall off. Then there's the fact that you get so HOT and its so BORING.
  • Well, I do all my training on the tready this time of the year as i live in a very warm place.

    I find that it's easy on the legs, making it easier to run outside.

    I don't agree with the tready doing half of the work for you. If you stop running you wil fall backward. You have to work your legs the same way as running outside.

    About fear of falling. It 's very common for the beginners to run too near the front board and hit their feet there, losing balance. Try running near the back. It takes time to get used to it though.

    I have done 3h30m of continuous running on my tready. I think it's very good training for will power, especially when doing a long distance race.

    I find that watching TV distracts too much. I just listen to some very loud music.

    good luck
  • I like both, depends on my state of mind. I find the tready easier in some ways because I can just shut off and I feel safe. It's also easy to stick to a speed.

    I don't feel so much of an achievement though running on a treadmill as I do outside because I haven't covered any distance per se
  • Hi JJ,:o)

    I have head that lots of high class athletes do their winter training on the tready.

    I know this is true here during the summer.
  • Hi guys

    As a question that pops up quite a bit here on the forum, I thought this would make a good Reader to Reader question this week.

    Look forward to hearing more of your advice...


    Catherine :o)
  • Hi, I use a tready as a handy way to break up my training. It is alot easier on the legs and i also find the hill programmes on them quiet good fun.
    I would never replace outside with a tready but as I go to the gym with a friend also has more social ideals attached (ie she can walk while I run and still chat).
    It is alot hotter in the gym which I think has helped my endurance. And yes it can be boring but I usually use the time to zone out, chat to my friend or "people watch" - how does that lady mange to make it look like she is dancing on the stepper................
  • ...or how can she read Harry Potter whilst she's running!
  • I currently do most my training on a treadmill and actually find the pace transfers pretty much the same when running/racing outdoors. One thing I do actually think the treadmill does definitely help is maintaining a consistent pace. I find that most my races have a pretty even pace. I am hopefully getting a garmin within the next few weeks and will then switch to more runs outside. I think I'm too used to knowing my pace and distance and hate not knowing this. I do have to admit that after every race I do it gets harder to run inside because of the boredom factor. But I still think the treadmill's very useful when it comes to doing shorter more intense training like hill reps/speed/tempo etc, although doing any run longer than 2 hours on a treadmill does have to be the most boring thing ever.
  • I find running on a treadmill nearly impossible, the monotony is soul-destroying. Also, having to run and stare at my gormless expression for ages does not help.

    Running outside is a completely different matter, you can take in the vista, vary your pace instantly (instead of having to fiddle with controls), and you don't have the constant whirring of the treadmill in your ears (no matter how loud you have your ipod).

    Running outside could almost be described as a spiritually uplifting experience, whereas the treadmill is like a diabolical grind.

    (Apologies for the excessively flowery descriptions.)
  • I have a treadmill at work so try to get a session in on my lunchbreak each day. I've found I'm a lot slower on the treadmill than outside and tire quicker. I think it must be different for everyone.
  • I run on the treadmill on a Friday morning at the gym. It overlooks the car park so I can have a good nosey at all the cars and work out which one I'd like. Also, handily, I can see Nora the resident OAP with her "gym kit" wheelie suitcase arrive. I know that I've then got 5 mins to speed up and get off before she appears in her sensible cardi, blouse, trousers and granny shoes to walk on the treadmill gassing to her other scary friends.
    Like Holly I feel that it's sometimes safer.
    I'm definitely slower outside which I found demotivating but then I joined a running club with lots of lovely slow people in and I'm now training for a half marathon - with 3 outside runs and 1 treadmill session a week.
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