While you might think running is running, regardless if it is done outside or on a treadmill, there are distinct differences between the two types of running venues. Here’s quick guide to help you figure out what’s best for you.
1) Control of Running Conditions
By running on a treadmill, you can safely run any time during the day or night and not have to worry about getting hit by a car. Also on a treadmill, your running environment is constant and predictable, making choice of a running outfit easy. You don’t have to worry about being too hot or too cold, or having to run on an ice-encrusted sidewalk or path.
2) Reducing the Odds of Injury
Running outside can be hazardous to your health. If you run in the dark, you risk not seeing something and falling down. While a skinned knee might not slow you down much, a broken ankle can put you out of commission for several weeks or even months.
Worse yet can be weather conditions. If you live in a cold climate, snow and ice on your running path or sidewalk can lead to slips and falls. If you are concentrating on running conditions, you are not focusing on the mechanics of how you run. Also when running on ice, you tend to run “stiffer” meaning you are not running using your regular form.
Running on a treadmill alleviates these concerns by always running in constant light conditions, stable temperatures and on a dry treadmill belt.
And because a treadmill belt “gives” a little, and thereby absorbs some of the shock associated with running, there is less impact on your knees, ankles and hips.
3) Different Use of Muscles
When running outside, you use your muscles differently than when running on a treadmill (whether you consciously know it or not). On a treadmill, you use your quadriceps “quads” to push off forward, but your hamstrings don’t get the same workout as they would if you were running outside, because the propulsion of the belt negates working them as hard.
Even on a calm day outside you are still running into the wind that you create from your forward movement, thereby creating resistance which makes you work harder. On a treadmill, you can simulate that resistance by increasing the incline, so that in the end, you work at about the same level, but use your muscles differently.
Another benefit of treadmill running at home, you can get in a run and watch your kids at the same time … something you cannot do if you run outside.
Keep in mind that because running on a treadmill and running outside are different, you have to adjust your running style and dress accordingly depending on which running venue you are using at the time.