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Treadmill vs. Outdoor Running

April 9, 2012

IT’S MONDAY AGAIN!!! YAY!!!!! Haha, I’ve decided to be super optimistic about Monday. For new readers, Mondays are my long day at school where I’m gone from home from 7:30am to 7pm and I get up at 5am to hit the gym. Although honestly, I can’t complain because every other day of the is more like a half day… Anyway, I decided to change my attitude in hopes that I survive the day better than usual!



Yesterday I went for a run outdoors in the morning. I was up and ready to go about an hour earlier than my gym was open so I decided to run along the lakefront. Although it was windier than I expected, it wasn’t too chilly! And all the blooming flowers were gorgeous! I had to stop at my turnaround and take some pictures!

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photo 1

However, I did not have a super run. I enjoyed my time out there, but when I looked at my pace I was shocked! I felt like I was moving it, but I came in at a pace of 9:24 min/mile for 4 miles. I started thinking about how my pace had declined significantly over the winter and realized that part of that is probably due to the fact that I did (and still do) the majority of my runs on the treadmill. Some people prefer running on the treadmill, while others call it the “dreadmill” and would much rather be outside. I thought I’d put together a Pro and Con list for each:

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Treadmill Pros

  • If an injury flares up, you can just hop off and switch to the elliptical or bike
  • Weather is never an issue
  • Everything you need is right there (including bathrooms…)
  • Easier on the knees
  • You can study! Or watch TV
  • Safety (no cars, darkness, sketchy people, etc.)

Treadmill Cons

  • Easier than running outside
  • No hills or wind (unless you increase the incline)
  • Not similar to racing conditions
  • Can get rather boring…

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Outdoor Pros

  • Simulates race experience
  • Better training because it’s more difficult
  • Mental healing effects of being outdoors and in nature
  • Just walk out your door! Don’t have to go to the gym (also FREE!)

Outdoor Cons

  • Weather
  • Safety
  • No bathrooms and water can be questionable
  • Harder
  • If you get injured it can be difficult to get back home


So what’s the verdict? I definitely prefer the treadmill overall, but I know I’ve become lazy on it and I was a better runner when I ran outdoors! Now that the weather is warming up, I’m hoping to get outside much more often for my runs! I think running outdoors is more beneficial for race training, and my mental health. I can never get over how beautiful the lakefront can be!


Which do you prefer: treadmill or outdoors?

Have you chosen to be in a good mood today?

44 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2012 7:24 am

    I definitely prefer running outdoors and only use the treadmill as a last resort. I stride differently on a treadmill (more heel striking) and I’m actually more prone to injury when I do more runs indoors.

    Mondays are my long days too and while I try to be in a good mood I can’t help but be a little bit sad that the weekend is over. That being said, at least its sunny in Chicago today 🙂

    • April 9, 2012 9:00 am

      Yes, at least the sun is out! And I actually have better form on the treadmill because I can focus on it better! Haha I guess it’s what you’re used to!

  2. April 9, 2012 7:27 am

    I actually feel the opposite about which is more difficult! I think the treadmill is WAY harder after you get used to running outside.

  3. April 9, 2012 7:43 am

    I go through phases of preferring the treadmill and preferring the outdoors, all depending on the weather of course. I know my pace slows of winter, I think it’s cause it’s so cold I don get properly warmed up!

  4. April 9, 2012 7:47 am

    I think the treadmill is BORING, but I agree with you on the bathroom pro. Running outside is definitely harder, but I see better results when I do it.

  5. April 9, 2012 7:53 am

    I prefer the elliptical! But if I’m running, I prefer outside. I hate driving to the gym to run when I can just step outside and start.

    Here’s to a good mood Monday!

  6. April 9, 2012 7:53 am

    I definitely prefer running outside. It’s so much more interesting. I don’t even really mind the winter – it’s just snow that stops me. I like the treadmill for shorter, speed workouts.

    • April 9, 2012 9:03 am

      I definitely prefer the treadmill for speed workouts – when I try to do them outside I get distracted and my speed slows down!

  7. April 9, 2012 8:22 am

    i usually prefer running outdoors since it’s more interesting and scenic! treadmills are fun for interval runs though. it mostly just depends on how i’m feeling.

  8. April 9, 2012 8:31 am

    I prefer the treadmill for speed work in the winter. It has only been the past training round that I have become more comfortable doing longer runs on the treadmill because the weather here is not always conducive to running outside.

    • April 9, 2012 9:04 am

      I had to do a few long runs on the treadmill because of weather! I guess I got too used to it!

  9. April 9, 2012 8:38 am

    I prefer running outside… but when I do I feel like I don’t get as good as a workout then if I go to the gym and get on the treadmill.

  10. April 9, 2012 8:41 am

    I definitely prefer running outside! I actually feel that running outside increases my pace from running on a treadmill!

  11. April 9, 2012 9:59 am

    I love you positivity 🙂 I really feel like the day is what you make it! I woke up cranky, with a sore throat, but I Can’t change that, so I’m just trying to enjoy the sunshine!

  12. April 9, 2012 12:31 pm

    It totally depends for me!! I SO prefer the treadmill in colder months–I always have. But when it’s nice outside, I love running outdoors! Great post 🙂

  13. Annie permalink
    April 9, 2012 12:34 pm

    Loved how you opened the post. It was so positive, I really felt my insides smile 🙂

    I feel like treadmill and outdoor running are two different sports.

    There was a time when all I did was run on the treadmill and did well by running 5-6 miles at a time. Totally cocky, I decided to step out on a track and could not make past my first round. I topped it off by vomiting on the sidelines. LOL

    Similarly, while marathon training, I was equally cocky after running double-digit miles. I stepped on a treadmill and was barely able to hang on after 5 minutes and “running” at something ridiculous – like 4.5 or 5.0 or something like that.

  14. April 9, 2012 1:02 pm

    I definitely prefer outdoors!Just because of the mental aspect of being in nature and the fresh air..and I actually find running on the treadmill a lot harder than outdoors…which I feel like is really weird! I don’t know why but after like 3 minutes of running on a treadmill I’m ready to quit haha 🙂

    • April 9, 2012 2:46 pm

      Haha it’s definitely harder to motivate myself to start on the treadmill, and to run longer distances!

  15. April 9, 2012 1:10 pm

    I definitely go through phases with the treadmill and running outdoors. I like both in different ways for different reasons.

  16. April 9, 2012 3:14 pm

    Nice comparison!!! I am hands down an outdoor runner! Running = happiness. Running outside (trails, pavement, anywhere outside) = happiness. Running on the dreadmill = suffering, it is SO boring! I wouldn’t say difficult, you can select workouts, vary incline and speed. But it is JUST boring! Usually 3 or 4 miles and I want to be just DONE with it (while outdoors, there is not distance I would feel bored and want to stop!), a few times I did 10-12 miles on it. Never again. I seriously rather run on a 200 meters indoor track than on the tredmill if I must stay inside.

    • April 9, 2012 4:56 pm

      I definitely prefer keeping my treadmill runs shorter, but for me it’s not too boring because there’s great people watching in the gym!

  17. April 9, 2012 3:23 pm

    I definitely prefer outdoor runs when I just want to unwind and de stress but I think treadmill runs are super helpful when doing HIIT or intervals…I am definitely looking forward to more outdoor runs as the temperatures continue to climb

  18. Anna Lynn permalink
    April 9, 2012 5:46 pm

    I prefer outdoors ANY DAY! However, I am blessed to live in Florida where it’s been beautiful all winter/spring and I have a great route right outside my apartment. I go insane when on a treadmill! I once did a 5-mile run on a treadmill and vowed to never do it again. The only problem is going to be when it’s 90 degrees with 100% humidity by 8am come June and July…guess I’ll be waking up REALLY early to run because if you wait until after the afternoon thunderstorms, it’s mosquito city here! I am jealous that you actually enjoy running on treadmills! I genuinely don’t have the mental stamina to do it.

    As far as good days, I’m trying my best to have a good attitude about today! I need a good week and the only way to have one is to be positive about it, right?! However, my day was just made about an hour ago…a friend of mine surprised me with flowers 🙂 *blush* It’s gonna be a GREAT week!

    • April 9, 2012 7:21 pm

      So right, it’s all about the attitude! And flowers?! How sweet! That would make my day too!

  19. April 9, 2012 9:15 pm

    I’m just realizing this. Outside is definitely harder but I feel more accomplished when I finish a run outdoors 🙂

  20. April 9, 2012 11:40 pm

    Loving your positive attitude, girl! I think starting the day with an optimistic outlook can make a HUGE difference!

    I’m definitely a treadmill runner. I like that I can easily adjust the pace and incline, which makes for great HIIT workouts. When I run outside, I find it harder to motivate myself to sprint; the treadmill *makes* me sprint. Haha. That said, nothing beats a stead-state outdoor run on a nice day. And I always feel more invigorated and alive after running outside. 🙂

  21. Ashley permalink
    April 10, 2012 10:50 am

    I prefer running on the treadmill. When I first started running it helped me be able to keep a steady pace when I was racing and not on the treadmill. I can no longer run long distances so short, intense runs on the treadmill is best for me!

  22. April 11, 2012 3:16 pm

    Oh my goodness this is great! I just wrote an article about this! ha
    It really depends on what mood I’m in if I want to run outside or inside!
    I like doing HIIT on the treadmill, but when I’m just wanting to destress I like to run outside and enjoy my surroundings!

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