The Upside of Running on a Treadmill

I’ll admit it: I’m one of those weird people who kind of prefers running on a treadmill. Which is why when I stumbled upon an article (The Upside of Running on a Treadmill | Runner’s World & Running Times) dealing with this very subject, I had to read it.

It wasn’t always this way (much like the author of this article).  When I first started running, I ran almost exclusively outside. But after a hot summer, a cold winter and a gym membership came into play I grew to not only be okay with running on a treadmill – but discovered that I could actually accomplish things I never knew I could by running outside.

As a mostly treadmill runner, I’ve cut my mile time back significantly. I remember the days that I thought I would never be able to make it to a 10 minute mile. After several years of playing speed games on the treadmill, I’ve gotten my pace down to about 8:45 – and I don’t know that I would have been able to do it outside. Why? Because the belt keeps you accountable. You can speed up, you can slow down, but you have to make a conscious decision to do so. Outside, you face cars that force you to stop. You get bored and slow down unintentionally. You say forget it because it’s raining, or snowing, or hot. Treadmill? No excuse (well, unless it’s January, and the treadmills are all taken, but that’s a completely different beast. We’ll get back to that subject in the next few weeks).

Which do you prefer – outside or on the treadmill? I love both, but I find that for me personally, I’m better off on the treadmill if I want to push myself, but I’m better off outside if I’m just looking for a leisurely jog. It’s a personal preference!

32 thoughts on “The Upside of Running on a Treadmill

  1. When I started running, I loved the treadmill. This was when I didn’t do anything over 4-5miles though. Then when my mileage increased I HATED the treadmill. I now prefer running outside and if I go on the treadmill I struggle with 3miles. Outside for me!

  2. I’m an outside runner for sure, but I spend most of my time on the treadmill in the winter. I can handle the cold, and I can handle the dark, but I can’t handle cold and dark.

    • I’m definitely a 55-65 degree only outdoor runner … it’s colder than that, it makes my ears hurt, and if it’s warmer, I lose all my energy. That’s the one good thing about the treadmill (at least the ones at my gym and the one I’ve been using at my parents’ house this week) – the built-in fan helps keep me cool indoors 🙂

  3. When I started running last year I was exclusively a treadmill runner. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I started during the winter. After running a few beautiful outdoor runs I discovered my love for running outside. Now that it’s dark and icy again I’m forced to do a lot more running on the treadmill or indoor track. It’s tolerable but I find my runs are much better and I run faster when I’m outside.

    • It’s so funny that people are one or the other when it comes to speed – I think my issue with speed outside is that it’s much harder to determine exactly how fast you’re going without something telling you.

  4. I wouldn’t consider myself a runner really, but I prefer a treadmill also. In the nice weather going outside is great, but where I live we have so much rain and winters can be long so I agree and think with a treamill you have no excuse not to!

  5. I love running on the treadmill. You’re right – it keeps me accountable with no excuses. I like the ability to do interval running and I have to keep pace or I’ll fall of the treadmill – it forces me to push myself. Other benefits is not having to carry my iPhone (for music) on me, I can set it on the treadmill along with my water. I know a lot of people that swear by only running outdoors, but I can’t bring myself to do it…yet.

  6. I prefer outside about a million times more than on a treadmill. But with a 7K in three months and living in MN where running outside is only an option for crazy people, I hope I can learn to love the treadmill! Thanks for the article, I’ll definitely check it out.

    • Yeah, running through snow and ice doesn’t exactly sound like a good time to me (heck, I don’t like going out in it, let alone working out in it). Good luck with your training!

  7. Kudos for making a great case for the treadmill. I usually love running outside, mostly because I love variety. Though the treadmill and I usually rekindle our relationship in the winter time where it’s usually icy and I’m 1 footfall away from a broken ankle.

  8. I prefer to run outside but the treadmill has it’s place. I have a gym membership just so I can use the treadmill when the weather is bad. It’s my no excuses machine.
    I also try out faster paces on the treadmill knowing that I can always slow down or stop if I have to.

    • Absolutely – I found that I started dropping seconds off my time left and right when I was able to play with my speed on the treadmill. I’d probably still be running 10 min. miles if I ran exclusively outside!

  9. Reblogged this on Strong-Fit-Beautiful and commented:

    I’m home for Christmas, and with the treadmill in my parents’ living room at my disposal, I’m doing my best to get a few good runs in to try to balance out all the cookies I’m sure I’ll be consuming (despite my best efforts to avoid them). I tend to be a mostly treadmill runner anyway (simply because my body is very sensitive to heat and cold), and thought I’d bring back this post from a year ago. Reading it got me a little excited – I mentioned being excited to have gotten myself down to an 8:45 mile … and now, on a good day, I can bust out 8:30. Progress!

  10. I feel like I go back and forth, right now I am loving the treadmill running! But a couple months ago you would not catch me anywhere near one of those things, but I have found quite the love for interval running and it is so much easier to maintain the same pace if you are on the treadmill.

    • That’s how I was in the beginning, too – I think I may have been a little intimidated by it, but over time I learned that it can give so much more consistency and force me to push myself harder – it may be torture, but it’s a good thing!

  11. Prefer outside definitely. The outdoors keeps me distracted and out of my own head, which allows me to go the extra mile, literally. Although, I do agree that if you are trying to improve your mile time the treadmill is the way to go. I usually go on the treadmill a couple times a week and run 2-3 miles and I feel this helps me to stay aware of my pace when I do my longer run, 5-6 miles, outdoors once a week. Also using an app on my phone like the Nike app helps me maintain my pace running outside.

    • That’s actually what I love about running outside – there are fewer distractions (without the time, speed, distance, etc. staring you in the face). You bring up a good point – there are a lot of great apps out there that can give you all the same feedback you get from a treadmill.

  12. I prefer running outside; however, when I have a speed work session on the calendar, I always complete it on the treadmill. Like you mentioned, the treadmill keeps a steady pace and holds me to the pace I am trying to nail. I too have gotten much faster by doing my speed work sessions on the mill.

    • That’s definitely one of the upsides – I’ve taken a ton of time off my mile time througohout the last couple years because of it! I’d love to be able to run outside more often, but between my work schedule and my class schedule (and the fact that I only run well in the 58-70 degree weather range), treadmill tends to win more often than not.

  13. I started running seriously in May and started out on the treadmill because it was a flat, controlled surface and allowed me to build fitness and increase mileage safely. At that time, I just wanted to be able to run for a full half hour without stopping.

    Once I got the running bug and the idea to enter races in my head, I knew I’d have to transition to training outside and start conditioning myself to run on the roads, now I prefer to be outside whenever I can. I still use the treadmill as a tool for speed workouts because I don’t have a Garmin yet, and when the weather forces me indoors, but I love the camaraderie you get from passing other runners on the road or on the trails. It keeps me going when I’m running in the dark or during unpleasant weather!

    • Congrats on getting bit by the bug! That is one thing I always loved about running outside – runners are pretty good about a smile, a wave, and occasionally an encouraging word. And that’s what I love about the treadmill, too – it’s truly a no-excuses opportunity!

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