Whether you’re a seasoned jogger who regularly goes out three to five mornings a week to get in their usual workout or you’re someone who’s brand new to the activity of running and looking to improve your health and fitness level, one question that you might be asking yourself is whether you would be best off jogging outside or whether a smarter move would be to jog on the treadmill at your local gym (or home treadmill if that option is available).
In order to make a properly informed decision on this topic, you have to come to understand the pros and cons of each and then weigh in on them with regards to your own specific situation.
Let’s take a look at the key factors that you should think about so that you can make the right choice for you.
The Boredom Factor
The very first thing that you should be thinking about when it comes to selecting to run on the treadmill or outside is the boredom factor involved. Basically, are you someone who could see yourself getting bored on the treadmill, slaving away day after day like a hamster on a wheel?
The fact of the matter is that most people would quickly drop off a program like this. At first their desire to stick with the program will overcome the boredom that they experience running along in one spot for such an extended period of time, but after a week or two has passed, that boredom reaches an all time high.
The great thing about running outdoors is that you can easily vary the course you take so then each run you’re experiencing new scenery and are changing things around.
Often this simple change of pace is enough to keep people motivated to stick with it and at the end of the day, sticking with it is the biggest determinant of the results you see.
The Sprinting Factor
Second, you also need to ask yourself whether you plan to do any sprint training with this running program. If you are, then you’re better off outside.
If you plan to do high intensity interval training, which is one of the most popular forms of cardio training for fat loss at the moment, then you’re going to have to rapidly ramp up your pace so that you’re going to full out run in just seconds.
Trying to do this on a treadmill will prove to be rather challenging. Sure, you may eventually be able to get the treadmill up to the pace you need to but it may take a good eight to ten seconds to do so.
Considering the fact that you’re only planning to likely sprint for 30 seconds total, you can see how this would be rather detrimental to the overall workout structure.
On land, you can speed up at will and get to that top speed in mere seconds, making for a much more effective interval training workout session.
The Injury Factor
Moving along, another thing to consider when looking at the difference between running outdoors and running on the treadmill is the injury factor.
All things being equal, you will have a greater tendency to get injured outdoors due to the fact that you may come across uneven terrain.
All it takes is a small divot in the road for you to roll and ankle and the pain you feel from that could be tremendous. The great thing about treadmill is that first, they are always 100% even and second, they often are equipped with a cushioning surface so not only will you reduce the risk of rolling an ankle but you won’t e experience quite the same shock throughout your workout session either.
For those who have knee or back pain, the treadmill is likely the smarter decision. Running is a very high impact activity by nature and by doing it on the treadmill, you help minimize this as best as possible.
The Toughness Factor
Finally, the last issue to consider is the ‘toughness factor’. If you look at running on a treadmill at six miles per hour and running outside at those six miles per hour (assuming flat ground), outside is actually going to be slightly more physically challenging for you.
Because you don’t have that belt propelling you forward. Assuming you are using a motorized treadmill where the belt will move forward, this added forward motion can help you run faster with ease.
Outside, you’re all on your own. It’s going to be nothing but sheer muscular power propelling you forward and as such, you’ll typically expend more energy running outdoors, meaning you burn more calories with each session that you do.
Now, you can get around this issue by setting the treadmill on a 1-2 percent grade incline, which then simulates the ‘real ground’ much better.
So if you are going to run indoors and are worried about this factor, that’s one way to overcome this.
On the other hand too, using the treadmill you can easily adjust the grade even higher yet if you want to run on an incline, where outdoors it’s rather hard to do this unless you somehow manage to find a hill lasting two to three miles.
So there you have all the factors to keep in mind when you are deciding where to take your runs each and every day. Some people will choose to mix it up, going outdoors some days and using the treadmill others (and this may especially be the case if you happen to live in an area with variable climate).
This can be a great way to get the benefits of both worlds and really take your running up a step further. The key is making sure to consider what’s most important for you and what you want to be getting out of each run you do and then matching that with either of the running options available.