Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Treadmill Vs. Outdoor Running

I've never liked the idea of running on a treadmill at a gym. It's so boring, you're indoors, and it doesn't smell so great, and you can watch generally CNN or FoxNews, or sometimes a cooking show, or maybe some ridiculous talk show. You know what I mean.

Who wouldn't prefer running outside, with the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and all that? I've even gone running (aka jogging/walking) in the rain, many times, in fact, rather than go to the gym.

But as part of my training with Derek yesterday, I ran 3/4 mile on a treadmill, and I didn't mind it at all. Well, okay, I minded it. It was hard and I was panting and sweating like crazy. But I knew exactly how far I had run, could put my hands on the bar in front for a minute or two to find out my heart rate, and when I was done I could go do some other exercises in the gym.

I never thought beyond those ideas until I Googled "treadmill vs. outdoor running" and found a whole slew of articles on this topic. Here's one which points out some good and bad things about running on a treadmill.  Here's another one, from Runner's World, that makes the same comparisons and also suggests how to use the treadmill for specific training, while still using the outdoor running for the real conditioning. Quoting from the article:
... treadmill running and road running are not quite the same. Running on the treadmill is easier than running outdoors... One reason is that the treadmill belt assists leg turnover, making it easier to run faster. So most runners find that their pace on the treadmill doesn’t correlate to their road pace. Also, some of the soft tissue conditioning or “hardening” that occurs with road running does not occur with treadmill running because the plate or base on the treadmill "gives" more than road surfaces. And, obviously there are no weather conditions to deal with when running indoors.

However, the treadmill can be a great training tool. Because treadmill running is easier, use it for speed work. Use the treadmill to help you run faster by speeding up the pace for short intervals and then slow it down for recovery intervals. This is a very convenient way to get in some speed work or tempo runs in a controlled setting.

So I'm still going to go running/jogging at the lake as planned later today, but not going to be so reluctant to use the treadmill for speed work, and for some rainy days.

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