Running: In or Out? What You Should Consider

| Posted On Apr 16, 2015 | By:

running.shutterstock_260839634At this time of year in Boston, with the Marathon just days away, many of us begin to ponder questions like “Who will win?” and “What will the weather be like?” This year, however, the prevailing question seems to be, “How the heck did our local runners train in all that snow?!”

This year’s aspiring marathoners had to be creative and employ a mix of indoor and outdoor training sessions to get prepared, using treadmills in addition to navigating (carefully) snow and ice aplenty outside.

But this made us wonder: what are the pro’s and con’s of running on a treadmill versus running outdoors? There are indeed some key differences to consider, so if you’re motivated by watching the Boston Marathon to start running for the first time (or for the first time in a long time),before you lace up, read up and see what might be best for you.

Many people like the convenience of running indoors. Weather is not a factor; you’ll never have a run spoiled by the rain and can set the thermometer to whatever temperature you prefer. Also, the surface of a treadmill has more cushion than a paved road or sidewalk, and therefore is easier on your knees. Mentally, it’s also less intimidating to embark on a run using a treadmill, as you can immediately stop should you get a cramp or lose your breath.

However, running on a treadmill does have its downsides. It is less strenuous than running outdoors, as there are no hills or wind resistance, which makes it less attractive for those training for marathons or running events. Additionally, the nature of a treadmill makes “leg turnover” easier (the motion of the belt helps you keep your pace), which means you’re not getting the same level of exercise as you might outside. It’s also important to remember to stretch after finishing a run, as the ease and allure of lying down on the couch afterward could cause soreness-inducing, lactic acid buildup.

Running outside presents its own mix of benefits and drawbacks. Running outside provides fresh air and a more interesting view than you can usually see running indoors. It’s also completely free. You don’t need to purchase a gym membership to run on the streets! Plus, as an outside runner, you can join a running group or just run with a friend, which can help to provide motivation during a run and help keep your workout schedule on track.

There are drawbacks as well. As previously mentioned, running on pavement is harder on the legs than running on a treadmill, which can be an issue for some. It also requires more mindfulness than running on a treadmill due to cars and other pedestrians, which can be an additional – and very unwanted – stress. If you’re going to run outside, consider investing in a good pair of running shoes, as the extra cushion they provide can lighten the stress your knees will take.

Whatever your running interest or preference may be, we hope you are inspired by the runners at the Boston Marathon, and we salute their commitment and determination.

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  1. Treadmills did get a lot of use this winter. They can be useful for people recovering from an ankle sprain as the surface is smooth, unlike sidewalks, roads and trails. However, running on uneven surfaces helps with conditioning because of the variability in the terrain. Running at a 1 degree elevation approximates the work done when running flat outside. Some treadmills can go “downhill” which is important when running a course like Boston.

    Comment by Richard Galgano on April 17, 2015 at 10:00 am
  2. A strong “pro” to running outdoors is that it can double as a way to commute. For those who don’t have time between family and work schedules for 60 minutes of dedicated exercise time, replacing a car, bus, or train commute with a run is the only way to fit in marathon training. An added benefit is that is makes for a less stressful commute; you are never delayed by traffic jams or flaky mass transit!

    Comment by Peter Hammer on May 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm
  3. Realy liked the piece on running.

    Comment by John foleyj on May 13, 2015 at 3:42 pm

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