Treadmill vs outside



  • I work in a gym and so its my job to encourage people to use a treadmill, but personally I find them the most tedious, morale sapping machines invented. I used to manage a 5k once a week on them, but I can't even do that now. For me they take the joy from running and turn it into a depressing clock watching event. Find some countryside or a park or yr high street, breathe some non airconditioned air, get the soles of your trainers muddy, take the jeers and snears from the local hoodies and indulge in the true spirit of running. England is a beautiful place, get out there and see it, rather than MTV or the other drivel that is on in the gym. As long as you are as consistent with your road running as you were with the treadmill your fitness will come on leaps in a short space of time. Ultra spud, you deserve a medal for 3hrs 30mins on a treadmill.
  • Some research has been done into the treadmill v real world running.

    Check out

    Some of the best runners on the RW Forum do a lot of treadmill running. And even a plodder like me finds the treadie invaluable in winter when the track is covered in ice for weeks on end.

    But if I come out of the gym and attempt to run the last half mile home, it feels sooooo hard!
  • It all comes down to why you run. If it’s for fitness; it does not matter that you are slower outside, a work out is a work out. Follow a training plan and you will get faster and fitter. If you are training for a race (highly recommended, especially somewhere different to where you live and train), then you need to run outside. If you run because you love running then this is a mute point, who in their right mind wants to run on the spot breathing in stale air, nasty.
    As for jeering idiots, the population is getting fatter while you’re getting fitter. So think happy smug thoughts. Good luck.
  • I hate treadmills, they always seem to be placed in front of mirrors or windows. There is nothing worse than the sight of me running, so I end up getting all upset at the reflection of me getting red, hot, sweaty and not being at all graceful.

    And that's all before the boredom threshold of 5 mins has been reached.

    Outside I can be the graceful gazelle I imagine I am without having the illusion shattered by a mirror!
  • Hello all,

    I had the same problem as you Ben when I moved from the treadmill to the real world - couldn't even manage to run for half the time outside. Was very disheartning. Another forumite suggested I was trying to run too fast, and that I should slow down. I didn't think I could go much slower but I tried, and running became so much better. I really enjoy running outside now. I've got a lot of weight to lose so i'm doing at least 1 run indoors to save my legs/knees a little, but I prefer outdoors. One thing I have found is that running a steady pace on the t/mill has helped me maintain a steady pace outside which is good. I'm a bit of a plodder, but i'm not worried about that!
  • Hi there. Tricky one this one.
    I did most of my preparation for my first half marathon in St Albans earlier on this year on the treadmill with an aim to finish in 1h45m.
    Then one day I run outdoors and found it much harder, but, as the weather was nice, I started running outdoors more often. In the end I finished in 1h47m.

    Now that the weather isn't so great, I've gone back to the treadmill as personally I don't fancy running in the mud/rain/cold too much. I think a balance of treadmill/outdoors is good. The treadmill can help you pace yourself (especially if combined with a heart rate monitor) and build up the miles durig the winter, but running outdoors will prepare you for the real thing.

    Also, if as I do you combine a bit of weight lifting with your running, sometimes it is just easier to jump on the treadmill straight after the weights, it's handy to have everything in one place.

    And finally, so sorry for the lenghty diatribe, the treadmill is more mentally fatigating, which is not bad training either if you plan to run long distances.

    Take care everyone.
  • I had the same problem too! I am a newbie and have only been running properly for a few weeks now, currently on week 4 out of 15 week 1/2 marathon schedule. I was trying to use the running machines in the gym before I started training properly, thought I was doing well and would find outsode training wrong was I! Couldn't manage half of my distance and ran like a snail (you know what I mean!) but stuck with it and am sooo glad I did! It was hard at first but gets easier thank goodness! Only 4 weeks in but you won't see me on a treadmill again unless it is hammering down with rain!
  • Hi all,

    Well I am officially a freak!! Apart from being a newbie of 8 weeks and before this never ever run apart from a horrendous cross country running experience at school. I came so far last, that everyone was showered and changed by the time I came in!!!

    Then I discovered a treadmill. I just adore the treadmill........I'm addicted to the thing! I find that when I run outdoors I have this mental block and my brain is saying "how much further, I can't do this!!!"


    I went to Brighton this weekend and discovered the popular run along the front and WOW!!! I WANT TO MOVE TO BRIGHTON AND RUN EVERY DAY ALONG THERE!!!!

    It was brilliant and I adored running outside. I saw plenty of fellow runners and power walkers too!

    I did take the general forum advice of running slow and it worked, I managed my first ever non stop 1 mile run, in around 11 mins. I was so pleased.

    Anyway I'm waffling now, what I'm trying to say is, if you have the perfect route then I'm sure it's better to run outside, but if like me you're at home with 2 kids 24/7, then a treadmill will just have to do! At least I'm managing to run 5 times a week.
  • One thing I've never understood is how anyone can claim to get "bored" on the treadmill. When I'm on it, 100% of my mind is on keeping going at the pace I'm going at, so boredom doesn't come into it. I would only ever get bored if the pace was so much slower than my capabilities that the session was pointless.
  • Compared to running outside; cross country, through the woods, on the beach or even your 2 - 3 hour long road run on a Sunday morning, how can a treadmill not be boring?
  • I ALWAYS ran on the road, then joined a gym and used the treadmill a bit. The result? it's shortened my long loping 11-min/mile stride into a shorter nippier 9min/mile running style (worried about falling off the back!). Its also made me run more upright rather than looking like i'm stumbling along.
    Treadies are great for doing speed sessions, but NOTHING can replace the fresh air endorphin rush that I get after a really good run.
    Mix and match, but use them as 2 separate entities rather than comparing
  • I have to agree with you, moonferret. I don't get bored at all on the treadmill.
    And when I'm running out in the real world, I don't notice the scenery - too much to think about just keeping going!
  • i can't run on a treadmill. the longest i have managed was 30 min and then i had motion sickness and nearly fell over.
    The seafront at brighton is really nice for running so long as its not a nice weekend and then its full of out of town people.
  • I'm working in Houston at the moment where the summer climate of +30C and 80% humidity forces me to do most of my sessions on the treadmill. However, that is a situation I am forced into.

    Back home in Scotland I have a treadmill at the house but prefer to run outside. I just find sessions on the treadmill so boring that I start messing with the speed to pass the time. If you have any interest in racing I would advise that you spend most of your time training outside. Save the treadmill for intervals or threshold sessions. This will allow you to simulate race conditions i.e. hills, wet, cold, uneven ground, etc. and also discover what your actual pace is, rather than a treadmill pace.

    It may help to find a partner to run with or to join a local club. I found the latter was the best boost for my training as I found some new routes, could train all year round and got to put in a longer mid-week session.
  • i've been wondering about this recently! since my school days when i'd happily do 2, 1hr long sessions sessions a day on the treadmill (keeping weight down for coxing) i've always been happy to get on and stay on for a long some others have mentioned i like the mindlessness of it, not having to worry about tripping on paving slabs (i do that a lot!), avoiding people riding at breakneck speed along the thames path and sticking to a route when i could easily cut it short and go home!

    but... i do also love running outside if the mood takes me. i'm rubbish at it, but enjoy it when it goes well! i'm slow (got over taken by a man with one leg once) find it really lonely (no one to run with and the new club i went to was rubbish compared to my old one and it put me off!) and have the mental staying power of a goldfish! have started to believe it must be because the treadmill is 'easier' even though i know i'm working really hard when i'm on there!
  • Not too sure of it's accuracy, but thought this was quite useful/interesting.
  • Hi to All,
    Found this Forum interesting. I love running outdoors and unlike some of you that get into the 'zone' and don't even notice the surroundings, that to me is the whole fun of it, I don't even like to wear an MP3 player or anything as I like to see and hear all the surroundings.
    However I have a treadmill in my house also, and I use that (don't like the gym habit of sticking a treadmill in front of a mirror, I do not need to watch myself) - usually set up so that I can see the tele or at least listen to music. I have used it to get ready for a couple of marathons also - the Shakespeare marathon in Stratford-Upon-Avon has a long dull path called the Greenway for the last number of miles which does the head in of many runners, however I say if you can run for an hour or more on a treadmill, you are mentally strong and prepared for anything.
    As for the initial question raised, I also am a person who can always run faster outdoors than on a treadmill, I have always put it down to the the 'harder' ground outside giving greater impetus to the speed.
  • Just stick at it and slow down.

    I started running 5 years ago and it was on a treadmill, and I got up to about 20 mins. First time outside, 2 mins and I was absolutely dying, it was so much harder!

    I simply slowed it right down on a 2 mile run and would have a 2 min walking break half way through. As the months went by I slowly started picking up the pace and eventually the walking breaks went. A few years on, I'm now a marathon runner and gone from a size 14 to between and 8-10. So stick at it, it's worth it in the end.

    Oh, and by the way, you'll burn a lot more calories outside, what an incentive!
  • Hi Everyone,

    Definately agree with Lil Lizard - keep going and slow down a little.

    I do both tread and outside. Outside I find harder and it is completely different, I have to run slightly slower outside than in the gym. I enjoy both as well, and both are really helpful during training.

    Finished a 5km run on Sunday in around 33 mins, not spectacular but I managed not to have a small walk in the middle. So I was really chuffed.

    Build up slowly and enjoy!
  • Little Lizzard - many congratulations, and I'll be aiming to emulate you one day!

    Since i started this thread, i've had a few more runs outside and i am building my confidence. I've stopped comparing my times to treadmill times as i've realised it is not a fair comparison to make. Although i think i still prefer to "switch off" on a treadmill, rather than worrying whats round the next corner!

    The main reason i want to persevere with outside is so i can run back from work (8 miles) and so not have my daily run eat into my evening so much!

    I've really enjoyed reading everyones different views and experiences, so thank you all!
  • I have an added incentive to run outdoors as opposed to indoors.... he has four legs and a very waggy tail and those big brown eyes just BEG me to take him out for a run!

    Don't think the gym would like me tying my dog on a tready and he wouldn't like it wonderful doggy smells to chase!!!
  • Little Lizard is not only a marathon runner, she is a good marathon runner too :)

    The treadies at our gym have got a great programming function so you can enter an entire speed session, however many reps you want to do, complete with recoveries, pace changes, warm-up and cool down. You can do them by distance or time. I am dreading the day when they replace them by treadies with fixed programmes only.
  • Whilst I love my treadmill running on those cold wet days it is down right boring and even if you have TV/music to listen to psychologically I find it a lot harder. I use a treadmill for speed sessions because unlike the road it does not let you slow down or else you make a loverly mess on the floor behind. And yes I do run a lot faster on treadmills than road ... probably something to do with nosying over garden hedges and gates at what the neighbours are doing when I'm outside running ... too many distractions.

    Treadmills in my humble opinion have a place in the training schedule ... takes the strain off hips and knees.
  • Snapstinget, that link is absolutely false and, if the Web had any kind of quality control, it would never have made it on. Please, please, pleeeease delete your link to it and don't give it the "oxygen of publicity" (c) M Thatcher.

    Other than psychological effects, the only physical difference between the outside world and the treadmill is in wind resistance. It's a trivial exercise in Newtonian mechanics to disprove the purely intuitive idea that you don't need to push forward when you run on a treadmill. You do, or you'd be impaled on the weights machine behind you.
  • Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭
    I have to admit, i have always preferred running outside. Always found the treadmill much harder.
    The treadmill has its uses, i've been using it for my once a week speedwork found it very useful.
    I've read in one of Bob Glovers Books, he says treadmill running teaches you mental toughness so its a case of peserverence.

    I have to bring my own music, as i find gym music even worse than the treadmill at times.
    Snaps you are so lucky, i asked inn my gym but if i want a definite programme i have to change the speed etc, manually

    Ingrid Kristainsen from Norway did most of her running on her treadmill, esp in the winter as the winters were so harsh, it didn't do her any harm.

    But luckily in our gym theres tons of treadmills you can spend as often as you like on them
  • i work as a full time personal trainer and so i have a foot in both camps. i would always say run outside if you can, but if not ie just after an injury or you are new to running then set the incline to 1.5 or 2%. i find running inside both a little boring and also easier so unless i am doing speed work or a client fails to turn up i not run on a treadmill. But well done for starting and keep it up.
  • As I think all the responses are saying, its a question of what suits best for each person, and I think most are agreeing that there is a place for both the treadmill and the roads.
    Last night I did an hour on the treadmill, tonight when I leave work in a few minutes it will be a 10 - 11 mile run on the roads with a couple of wicked hills thrown into the middle.
    Whichever you do, enjoy!!
  • Hi All,

    I am a member of my local running club and this one has often come up at the club as most people HATE the Treadmill. I run both outside on road and trails and also train on the Treadmill to. I find that I run faster outside and slower on the Treadmill. I find that doig Hill Intervals on the Tready are great and have helped me outside when running up hills. For me I feel safe running on the treadmill especially in the winter time when its dark out.
  • I like to do both, and I believe they are both of merit. I always do a random programme on the treadmill and consider it a good way to up my mileage and protect the body on the way. I am a fair weather runner so it also helps there as well, but yes treadmill can seem easier at times, but other times I get lost in the running thing outside and it speeds by. To be honest though I don't really push myself hard but hard enough, I want to enjoy the exerience and improve on distance rather than time. I think as long as you achieve thats all its about and having fun of course. Life is too short for minor worries. ENJOY. I don't have anything other than heart rate monitor to assist so can also get lost in thought and run slower. but ENJOY it.
  • if i do run on the treadmill, i like to use one of the nike treadmill sessions on my ipod.
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