Running on the Road vs. Running on Treadmill

by Tiffany
(Georgia)

Q: If I run on a treadmill as opposed to running on the road, am I receiving the full benefits of running?

A: Hi Tiffany,

Running on the road or outside is different than running on a treadmill. Here is a comparison of a few things that vary while running:


Beating the weather on a treadmill
When the outdoor weather is extreme and it is raining, or snowing or very cold outside, it is difficult to run outside. During such weather conditions, running on the treadmill is perhaps a better option.


Lack of wind resistance while running outside
While running outside, you will encounter wind resistance.
Depending on your speed, air resistance creates more work for you while running outside. While running a treadmill, you will not encounter air resistance. The best way to overcome this is to increase the elevation of the treadmill. According to the Journal of Sports Science, a 1% grade on the treadmill most accurately reflects the energy expended during running outside.

Terrain differences
Smooth cushioned surfaces on treadmill are easier on the joints and also for overweight runners. Terrain variations like downhill and turns are not easy to replicate on the treadmill. Uphill terrain is easier to replicate on the treadmill just by increasing the elevation.

Connection with nature
While running outside, you will get to connect with nature. When you are running on a treadmill, you are more likely to watch TV or be with other treadmill runners if you running in a gym. Connecting with nature while running indoors on a treadmill is not possible.

Connecting with other runners
When you are running outside as a part of the running group, you can vary your speed and connect with different runners and chat while running. Such socializing is hard to do while running on a treadmill.

Speedwork using treadmill
Treadmill is a better to train for speed workouts since you can set the speed on a treadmill and run at a constant speed. Running at a constant speed outside is harder to do.

Hope this helps you.

Best wishes,
Vaishali

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