Running on a Treadmill vs. Outside

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Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 27

Posted: 08 Feb 2011, 11:31
I have been slowly getting back into running, I started at 2 miles at a time in October. I got a few runs in outside before it got to cold (I'm in the Midwest) but I've been stuck on a treadmill at the gym ever since. I've been working up my distance and I'm comfortable at the 4 mile mark on the treadmill, but I was wondering how that will compare to running outside? I know its physically easier to be on keeping up with the treadmill than actually propelling your body forward. I would like to run a 10k the first week of May. Does anyone know if running 4 miles on a treadmill is like a 3 mile regular run, or about what the conversion would be? Thanks!

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 90

Posted: 08 Feb 2011, 12:21
I really don't think you can make an accurate conversion between the two. Running outside is understandably harder (in a physical sense), with weather conditions, undulating terrain etc etc

If you have to be stuck on a treadmill the best bet to get an almost 1 for 1 likeness is to set your treadmill at a 1% incline and run the same distance as you would outside.

Joined: Jan 09
Posts: 4,546

Posted: 08 Feb 2011, 12:35
I did my first 5K in october without having ever run more than a mile outside, but having completed many 5Ks on the treadmill. Honestly, I found it a lot easier to run the race than to run on the treadmill. There are all these people, and that's very motivating. You really want to keep going because you want to finish the thing, unlike on the treadmill where sometimes I just want to stop because I'm sick of it.

I'm in about the same place you are as far as running. I've done 4 miles on the treadmill and I'm planning to run a 10K in March. I'm not worried about time or anything, I just want to finish it.
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Joined: Jan 08
Posts: 534

Posted: 08 Feb 2011, 12:36
Personally, running outside on the hard ground is just to much on my body. I get off the treadmill from a run (back when I used to run a lot before I hurt my knee) and I was just fine. I'd do half the run outside, and my entire body would hurt for 2 days! Maybe start out slow and see what happens - listen to you body.

Joined: Feb 11
Posts: 2

Posted: 09 Feb 2011, 03:28
When you are starting out or recovering from an injury, running on the treadmill has two huge advantages over running outside. 1) if the injury hasn't recovered you can stop and you are back at base 2)any imbalance is easily spotted, e.g. if you tend to take a shorter stride with one leg you will find that you drift to one side or other of the treadmill, you just don't notice this running outside.
When fit running outside is more interesting and varied surfaces give your stability muscles more of a work out. Running through woodland is great as the changes in direction strengthen your ankles and develop core stability.
Now the health warning, don't jump into it running outside, you do use the muscles differently and you should build up gently.

Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 1

Posted: 09 Feb 2011, 19:32
As others have said it is definitely better to run outside but as you can imagine weather is a challenge for those of us stationed in AK during the winter.

Here are some handy comparison charts between running on the treadmill and running on the blacktop.

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 3

Posted: 09 Feb 2011, 19:50
I find running outside more challenging than a treadmill so i prefer outside. You have to concentrate when you are outside to do the heal to toe run so that you take some of the impact off of your knees and hips.

If you really want to work to a 10K i would suggest running intervals for a while 2 minutes normal pace then one minute at a fast pace. This will not only burn more fat reducing weight (if needed) but will make you a faster runner as well. Overall the interval style will let you run at a normal pace for longer getting you to your 10k. good luck!!!!

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 2,052

Posted: 09 Feb 2011, 20:00
I actually prefer running on a treadmill.

When I'm on a treadmill, I'll never have to dodge cars, dog walkers, dog remnants, rocks, uneven surfaces, muggers, or anything else. I prefer to run late at night, so lighting is an issue. On a treadmill, I don't have to worry about carrying water, my phone, keys, etc. It's all-around more convenient for me.

The real upside for me is that a treadmill controls pacing for me. When I run outdoors I always run too fast (maybe because I'm dodging cars and muggers), and I always exhaust myself. A treadmill helps me keep that in check.

I'm definitely in the minority, though.

Joined: Apr 10
Posts: 274

Posted: 09 Feb 2011, 20:24
As spring comes up it's funny but I'm also going to have the chance to get on the treadmill while all winter I've been running and walking outside. Even with the availability of the treadmill I think other then for crappy weather I'm going to do my runs outside. Everything I've read from runners world, to to talking to a few friends who are marathoners and half marathoners has told me that while running on a treadmill to get your endurance up is fine but to test yourself for the event then you should get roadwork in. Not only will it help with elevation changes but you will lack the active feedback that you get from the treadmill. Meaning the treadmill is lower impact then outdoor running because of the cushioned footfalls and the spring effect it has on each stride. And As Gwhite said, and my sports medicine doc agrees that running outside promotes balance and stability muscle development because of the constant changes in the surface that you don't get on the treadmill.

And as Mrjag said, do Fartlek Workouts. This will really burn fat and also help you build stamina and speed. That's why most good coaching programs (C25k and C210K) use intervals.
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Joined: Jun 10
Posts: 201

Posted: 09 Feb 2011, 20:46
I would like to state right off the bat that I am not speaking from personal experience. I was told by a personal trainer (family member) that when you run on a treadmill, the belt is pulling your foot back opposed to you using muscle to continue your forward motion. The percentage of how much work it's doing for you of course depends on the treadmill itself, the speed its set for, position of incline and chaos theory. Again, up for discussion, that's all I've heard on the subject. ~tig
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There is no more falling off the wagon for me. I am on for the entire trip. I am the only one in control of how smooth the ride.

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Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 3

Posted: 10 Feb 2011, 21:02
Wow, not a lot of people like running outside, huh? I joined cross country this year, but it's winter now, and I HATE the treadmill. I can barely do a mile on it! I feel so much more fatigued much sooner than I would running outside. I get as tired from a mile on the treadmill as three miles outside! And my speeds are the same. I run a 10:00 mile outside and inside. Anyone have any ideas what might be going on?

Joined: Jan 10
Posts: 1

Posted: 10 Feb 2011, 21:07
I prefer running inside on the treadmill. I can't seem to regulate my pace outside and I feel tired in half the time. I understand that it's also much harder to run outside so that's a factor as well though. I run a 12 minute mile typically, training for a half marathon coming up in May and I just want to be able to complete it! Live in Ohio and it's been 2 degrees outside lately, not the best outside running environment to train! Brrrr!

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 90

Posted: 10 Feb 2011, 21:18
Maddiexx19 wrote:
Anyone have any ideas what might be going on?

I have the same thing, I think it's because there's so many distractions outside. Whereas I get bored on the treadmill and all I can think about is my pace, how much my legs hurt, etc etc. I hate watching those numbers slowly tick on by.

Plus, there's only so much people watching you can do at the gym without getting yourself an unwanted label Surprised

Joined: Nov 10
Posts: 451

Posted: 10 Feb 2011, 21:24
the trainer at our gym has us run at a 2% incline to simulate running outside. He says that it adds just enough resistance to allow your body to have to push off like you would on pavement.

To really test yourself, you could put your treadmil on a 2% incline and select either random or hill to really give you a diverse run like the outdoors.

Joined: Sep 07
Posts: 269

Posted: 11 Feb 2011, 10:37
When I was running on the treadmill at the gym yesterday, I had it on the "hill" program and did some running both on the 0% incline and 2-3% incline for short bursts. It's amazing how much more I felt the back of my thighs working on the incline rather than just on the 0%. I think I will do that again - might get my legs toned up faster and better.

Joined: Feb 11
Posts: 1

Posted: 11 Feb 2011, 10:42
I live in Denver and run outdoors year-round. For me, the treadmill is rather dull. When I use it at work, I tend to "tune out" instead of pay attention to the workout. I went running outside yesterday evening in 18 degrees with a light breeze. The snow pack on the sidewalks made for a fun obstacle course. I really enjoy the fresh air, rosy cheeks, and varying my course.

Joined: Mar 10
Posts: 2

Posted: 11 Feb 2011, 20:30
I was previously a decent runner but it's been forever. I am trying to get back into it and found it pretty uncomfortable to run outdoors, to much jarring, I felt like I was riding on a jackhammer. I just started back to the gym and I figured I try to 'run' on the treadmill (also suffered a knee injury setback last year) I actually did really well- I hit 2.5 miles @ 4 m.p.h. pace before I stopped jogging. I was going for a workout of an hour. I think I'll be on the treadmill for a while.

Joined: Jan 11
Posts: 3

Posted: 11 Feb 2011, 20:39
pineapple, i totally get what youre saying. Maybe I'll try to cover the numbers or find a good distraction next time Razz Usually I watch TV but even that doesn't hold my attention for long. Oh well, I'm sure I can get something that works (: thanks!
Sue T

Joined: Feb 11
Posts: 1

Posted: 12 Feb 2011, 14:38
I do both, but prefer to run outdoors..the views, smells in the morning are so restful. On weekends my husband takes his bike along with me or jogs with the dogs...I completed my first 5K at 34.04..and the excitement of that was so worth way is the best way...just keep moving..have fun...lots of luck

Joined: Oct 10
Posts: 559

Posted: 12 Feb 2011, 16:00
I can't run on treadmill. I get dizzy fast if I do. (inner ear problems) even walking on it I need to look down or hold on. Running outside I have no problem with so once spring hits I will do that when I can't get to the gym. As for now I use about a 5% incline and walk on the treadmill.

On side note walked into gym couple weeks ago and saw some girl have the incline so high up she was pretty much hanging from it. Looked kind of silly but it was probably good workout.

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