Street Running Vs. Treadmill Running (Nov 2019)

Mon, Jul 18th, 2022 12:00:00 am

It’s November. The weather is only going to get worse. So the question, if you are a runner, is how are you going to get it done?

When I started running, I did 100% of it on a treadmill. I am hopelessly directionally challenged and running on a treadmill was comforting because I didn’t need to pay attention to where I was going or worry about getting lost. It was also easier to track my progress, as I could always bump the speed up or down depending on how I was feeling. Back in those days, I didn’t run huge distances, maybe up to 4 miles at most. I could watch TV or even attempt to read a magazine while on that huge machine. Interval training was great too, and it helped the time go faster.

Then I started training for my first half marathon and my personal trainer said “you need to get outside.” She said there was no way I should attempt 10 miles on a treadmill, especially since my first race was going to be outside and I needed to get used to it out there.  I was resistant, as I’d built up this safe cocoon on that treadmill and I didn’t know how to run outside. Where would I go? How much harder would it be on different terrain with various inclines? What if it rained? What if it was hot? Would people look at me? Would I get hit by a car? How would I track my miles?

Yes, back in those days, I didn’t even have a Garmin, an Apple watch, or any sort of tracking device. They were really expensive and I’d never needed it before. So when I finally committed to running outside, I got in my car and I tracked the mileage by the speedometer on my car. It wasn’t a great route, really just an out and back in my neighborhood, but it did the job and I got my miles in. After that, it wasn’t so scary anymore and I got braver and started exploring new areas of town to run. And when I tried to step back on the treadmill, it felt excruciating. Nothing beat the wind on my hair, the trees in the Fall, or the sun coming up when I chose to run outside in the early morning.

The truth is, there’s no reason you CAN’T run 10 miles on a treadmill. There’s no reason you can’t run 20 or more. I have run long enough on treadmills at the gym that I’ve reached time limits and had to get off. It’s not my preference anymore, but it’s great to have options. These days, I’d take running in the rain over running on that belt pretty much any day. But on days where I’m stuck inside due to ice or dangerous air quality, or even just days where I can’t leave my kids, it’s great to have one. And there are different strokes for different folks, and I can see the benefits of both methods of getting your run in.

I’ve tried to make games out of treadmill runs, like covering up the display and only allowing myself to peek at the numbers every 10 minutes or so, or trying to run faster through the commercials on the TV. Sometimes that helps a lot and sometimes it drives me even battier. I have friends that prefer the treadmill and all the metrics displayed right there while they go. One friend will pick the treadmill over an outside run any day of the week so he can watch hockey.   

Recently, an organization called Consumers Advocate reached out to me and told me that they had spent over 200 hours researching the treadmill industry. In addition to sifting through all the statistics, academic articles, and other resources, they also interviewed several people in the health and fitness world, including academic researchers and personal trainers. After researching and analyzing the differences between entry-level and high-end treadmills, they came up with a list of their top picks for durability, gym quality, and affordability. Treadmills have come a long way, and there are so many choices these days. If you are trying to decide which treadmill is the best for you and your budget and needs, take a peek at Consumers Advocate’s report on treadmills

Whether you choose to opt outside or lace up to run in front of your favorite TV show, get out there are get it done. We’ve got some icky months ahead of us, and there shouldn’t be any excuses.



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