When you begin to train in earnest, one question will naturally arise: Can I also run on a treadmill, or should I solely focus on running outdoors? Let’s look at the pros and cons of both to answer that question.
Running Outdoors: the Benefits
Running outdoors is what truly prepares you for any race, as your body gets used to the varied terrain. You learn how to work with wind resistance and combat different weather conditions.
It’s good for your general health, especially if you are running outside the city. The fresh air is great for your heart and lungs. Running outside is also beneficial for your bones as it builds bone density, and you can even burn more calories by running outdoors.
Not to mention, it’s motivating, and losing yourself in the scenery makes it all the more fun.
Running Outdoors: the Challenges
Running outdoors also means you have to brave the weather. Running in snow and rain can cause injuries, not to mention you have to invest in protective layers of clothing. You also have to consider the traffic and potential crowds, and running at night might not be the safest activity.
The different surfaces you run on can also cause injuries. Your joints can particularly suffer as you take on different terrain, especially if you are only accustomed to flat and smooth surfaces.
What you can do to try and prevent injury is stretch regularly. Movewell’s IT band stretching guide will help you establish a stretching routine, and you can do your best to keep your muscles in top shape.
Running Indoors: the Pros
Running indoors, of course, means you don’t ever have to worry about the weather or the time of day you choose to run. If you have a treadmill at home (and you can get one at an affordable price these days), you can literally run in the middle of the night if you feel like it.
You can also control your pace and incline precisely and be aware of it at all times. This can help you keep track of your progress and form concrete goals to reach.
You can push yourself more when you know how many miles you have left of your daily running goal, and the numbers can be rather motivating.
You can also multitask while running – listen to a podcast, watch a show, or listen to an audiobook. This can help you get through the run with more ease, and you won’t have to worry about missing an important warning sound coming from your surroundings.
The surface of the treadmill will also be easier on your joints, so injuries may be less likely to occur.
Running Indoors – the Cons
The treadmill can be incredibly boring, however. Even with all the distractions, you are essentially running in place, and the views certainly won’t be changing. This can make running indoors feel much more difficult than running outdoors.
You can still get injured, especially if you trip yourself up or can’t keep up with the pace.
As you can’t turn or go downhill, you will also be missing out on some important aspects of training.
To Run Indoors or Outdoors, That Is the Question
If you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular health, running on a treadmill is a great way to get your miles in without having to consider the weather and the time of day.
However, if you’re looking to train for a race, be it the 5k or the 10k, or if you’re going for the full marathon, training outdoors is essential. It will truly prepare you for race conditions, and you’ll benefit from your runs more than from time spent on a treadmill.
That does not mean you shouldn’t do both, though. Doing some treadmill time can help you stay on track with your goals even on days with heavy rain. Just try not to do more than 40% of your training indoors.
The Final Verdict
A combination of indoor and outdoor running can be your ticket. Pace yourself correctly, work on your mental toughness as much as you work on endurance and speed, and good luck!