Treadmill vs. the Great Outdoors

After lifting today I decided to take a run for my cardio. I have set a goal for myself of running a 5k in under 30 minutes by the end of the summer so I’ve been trying to get out for at least one run each week. I waited too long to get to the gym today so by the time I was ready to go running it was too hot outside to take my run outside. To the “dreadmill” it was! While I was running I was thinking a lot about the differences between running outside and running indoors. I never really thought about it before but there are definitely pros and cons to both!

I found it was easier to track my time. Every time I adjusted the speed I could see the change in what my time was which was motivating. It made me want to keep my speed up and helped me keep tabs on my time so I could easier reach my goal. When I’m outside I just kind of go at my own pace and find out at the end how I did. Its hard to know if I’m pushing too hard, not enough, or am going at just the right pace. I don’t get the same workout on a treadmill, though, that’s for sure. There is no terrain changes, no hills, no downhills, unless I change the incline myself. And that’s where the mental aspect comes in to play. Running outside, it’s just about me and the road. The only mental barrier I have to push through is to keep myself running at a decent clip for the whole 3 miles. I can’t give up until the end because even if I stop running I would still have to walk all the way back to where I started and, if that’s the case, I might as well keep running and finish sooner! On the treadmill I don’t have the distraction of the scenery so it can get boring. I can also stop any time I want and just get off the treadmill and be done with it. I also have to spend the entire run staring at the handrails strategically placed in front of me, wanting so desperately to grab on. I can’t decide if the mental workout that I experience on a treadmill is beneficial or detrimental. On the one hand, the sense of accomplishment I feel at the end of treadmill workout is much greater than an outdoor run; I have just spent half an hour busting my butt physically but I also didn’t give up on myself and didn’t grab on to those handrails! But during the course of the run I am afraid that being so mentally challenged takes away from the physical workout. I don’t want to turn up the speed so fast that I get too tempted to grab onto the handrails, but I don’t want to go so slow that I am not pushing myself. I also find that I don’t play with the incline as much as I should. Outside I don’t have to mentally push myself to change the incline because the world does that for me! 

If you had to choose, would you rather run inside or outside? I think that, even though my run today was faster than my other outdoor runs, I would rather run outdoors any day! It’s so much more enjoyable, you can run a new route with every single run, and you don’t have to deal with those darn handrails calling your name for the entire run!



3 thoughts on “Treadmill vs. the Great Outdoors

  1. jigoldberg

    Outdoors for sure. I do agree with you in the sense that the treadmill motivates you and shows you what your av. pace is so on and so forth. But a good way to stay motivated while running outside is to get a stop watch. Know your comfortable pace mile time, and you’re good to go. I also use to measure the distance of my routes.

    Happy running!

  2. Dean Joseph

    Outside physical activity to me will always trump inside activity. Especially running the treadmill is boring and nothing beats the freedom of trails and roads..


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