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Running machine vs. running outdoors: Treadmill or Tread Carefully?

Which is the most beneficial? It is a question as old as the treadmill invention itself. The same things were asked about multigyms when first appearing in the seventies but there’s not much evidence of them becoming extinct.

The fact is that, like most modern inventions using technology, they are made to make our lives easier but not necessarily to change our lives totally. Used in moderation, they can be handy at times.

Here are the pros and cons for both so you can decide for yourself.

Treadmill triumphs

1. The treadmill is a safer and more practical choice during bad weather. This can be true when running conditions have hit the hot or cold extremes. For snow and ice then, indoor treadmills provide ample means to keep running whatever the winter is throwing at us (provided we can still reach the gym of course!).

2. Treadmills provide a regular sound surface to cut down on ligament wear and tear or injuries due to bad surfaces. Can be argued this is true once again and bad road surfaces certainly pose their challenges especially if the light is none too great.
3. Treadmills are sophisticated now and can be pre-programmed with replica course information to make a training regime easily possible for the run at hand. This is true and modern machines can throw in inclines and now even declines to make your route planner as complete as possible.
4. Treadmills provide up to the second pacing and monitoring. This is probably the biggest advantage when accurate information on split times is needed. It is also quite easy to hook up pulse monitors and get medical feedback for analysis.

5. Treadmills make water and carb intake easier. This can be as easy as the monitoring advantages as your supplies are just an arm’s length away.

The dreaded treadmill?

The outdoor aficionados would argue that outdoor conditions are part of outdoor running and the legs and body should be trained to cope. They would suggest that competition runs happen anywhere and anytime and must be coped with, although there should be no bad surfaces, but think of all those cobles that organizers seem to love, for the spectacle presumably.

1. Running outdoors gives you a better chance of setting different pace settings that may be needed during a race when other competitors go faster or slower. Sometimes a quick injection of pace can take a few race strides where the treadmill works bests premeditated.

2. There is no competitive element to a treadmill. You can only defeat yourself on it whereas race running needs to be tuned in to the competitive edge which can be practiced for pushing through pain barriers on difficult terrain to see how your body copes. Maintaining race speed in windy conditions is an obvious big difference.

3. Treadmills are boring. The psychological aspect is probably the biggest in truth. Some runners find the mouse wheel incredibly tedious and quite often self-defeating. They do not like to be continually looking at the digits flash up just to know if they are doing okay. Many outdoor runners love running, well, outdoors.

4. A course through fresh green fields with continually changing vistas is loved by all road runners and the thrill of inner city competitions with cheering crowds can never be replicated. The throng of competitive running shoes pounding around you is enough for some purists to go for a practice run based on enjoyment and adrenalin alone. Go find that in a gym with the hamster wheel!

Hopefully you will agree they both have their uses depending on your needs of the day. So the recommendation is to use them as such. Perfect running conditions should tell you to get out there and have a perfect run. If a blizzard is bearing down then stay with the mill and become a running machine yourself for two hours.

Either fans would agree, as long as you’re running somewhere somehow, it’s far better than not running at all.

Now, where did I leave my running shoes?


thumbnail photo credit: treadmillreviews.net