Is One Really Better Thank The Other? -
There is a long-held belief that outdoor running is better than treadmill running. However, there is a place for both in your training program. It is just a case of combining both elements to get the best results and allow some flexibility in your thinking and running plan.
There are multiple benefits to both types of running. Outdoor running is often favoured by many but there are also those runners who prefer to be on the treadmill, and neither group is wrong. The number one consideration is that you are actually enjoying your running, regardless of whether you choose one form over another, or like many a combination of both.
There is no doubt that outdoor running provides the best outcomes when it comes to race preparation. Training in conditions similar to your event, including terrain and climate is the best way to simulate the conditions and prepare your body for the event. So if you are training for a specific event your training program should focus on the event conditions.
Outdoor running also includes the benefits of being out in the fresh air, getting a healthy dose of vitamin D from sunlight, and enjoying different environments and conditions. The mental health benefits of running outdoors are also significant. Indoors or outdoors you will still achieve the “runners high” that we all crave. But outdoors if you forget about pace and just run for the sheer enjoyment it can also be an incredibly relaxing form of exercise.
If you are running purely for the physical and mental health benefits then keeping variety in your training is the best option. The key is to keep challenging your body, varying your training runs, add some speed work and hills, and you will continue to improve. This is where is can be a great option to add some treadmill work.
One of the biggest issues with treadmill running is that runners complain that it’s boring. However, it doesn’t have to be if you are using it for speed work, hill work, and giving your joints a break from the road. It’s also a great option to avoid nasty weather conditions. The other factor to consider is that it is often considered easier because of the belt movement. Research shows that if you put 1% incline it is a great simulation for outdoors so there is no validity to that excuse.
So the good news is that outdoor running and treadmills provide multiple benefits for your running performance. The treadmill can be used to increase the challenge with speed and hills because you have control over time and distance for this type of training and the ability to change settings at the touch of a button. It can also be great for training longer distances with reduced risk of overuse injuries from tough surfaces like road and bitumen. Outdoor running will always be a favourite for most runners but it is important to keep variety in your training for the best results.
Quality treadmills will have a sprung deck surface which will reduce the impact on your body. It can be similar to the benefits of training on an athletic track, which has a rubberised surface and is less harsh than concrete or bitumen. When you are doing high mileage training it is beneficial to reduce the level of ground reaction forces that are absorbed by your tissues and joints.
Running is an excellent way to improve your health with fitness, bone density, and amazing mental health benefits. There is definitely a place for outdoor and treadmill training in your program. If you are a beginner it is a good idea to get advice from a coach who will guide you on a plan to suit your needs.