FFF: Say “No” to the Treadmill

I know that there many benefits to using a treadmill for your runs.  You all know them so it’s not necessary to list them here.

I don’t even own one and I’ve run on one very very rarely (and since the Pandemic, not at all.)

And I have been able to train effectively through the winter and COVID.

But if you are wondering if due to winter weather conditions or COVID surges, you should either spend the money and buy a treadmill or join a gym and run masked on one, here are my FIVE + reasons NOT to run on a treadmill.

1.Lack of air resistance

When running on the treadmill, it is obvious that you are not running through the air. When running outdoors, the wind raises resistance. The quicker you run, the more you feel the air resistance over you. To me, running seems so much harder when there is wind. And we need to prepare for such conditions.

I struggled running into the wind during this race

2. Less front slope

Some studies have shown that runners run with less forward inclination of the body when they train on the treadmill. Leaning forward is essential as it maximizes the runner’s ability (and energy) to move forward.  Of course, we want this when we race.

3. Unrealistic running surface

The treadmill surface is obviously uniformly level and soft. This offers a significant disadvantage. When running outdoors, the surface is mixed: stones, soft and hard surfaces, wet or dry points, and combinations of all these. Running on these varied surfaces is a challenge but it is an important aspect of training as these different surfaces have impact on the muscles, joints and affect balance. And it is rare that we race on a flat, straight (no curves), soft surface.

4.Lack of visual perception

When running outdoors, you move between trees, buildings, cars and other people. When you’re on the treadmill, you are not actually moving so you do not have all this visual experience that gives you the feeling of running. If you are lucky, you can look through a window or at a computer/TV screen. Not the same!!

5. Shorter length of stride

The limited physical size of the treadmill can give you the impression that either you will step off the treadmill or that you will fall.  This usually leads to smaller and/or more perpendicular strides.  I know that I run at a slower pace on the treadmill because when I up the speed, I feel like I will fall off.  I can only comfortably sprint in a race or at the end of a training run outdoors.

6. Running on a limited space

You may feel claustrophobic when running on a treadmill because you are usually in a close and restrained space.  There’s nothing like the feeling of the great outdoors (even when it is 90 degrees or 0 degrees).

7. Lack of confidence

Many runners who do their training runs on the treadmill do not feel properly trained for races (for many of the reasons I mentioned above.)

8. Boring and monotonous

Running “in the same spot” aka the “dreadmill” can be very boring and very monotonous. No matter what I try…podcasts, music, TV, Peloton. 3 miles feels like 13 miles!!

Related image

So there you have it. If you avoid the treadmill like I do, you now have reasons to justify your decision to run outdoors…no matter what (though I am NOT saying to be reckless. Skip those dicey ice days and wear yaktrax/spikes for running through the snow.)

-4 wind chill when we started and ice/snow-covered paths but we ran on the roads and chatted the whole time… It was a confidence booster for sure.

Happy Running!! Anyone else agree with me? Any other reasons to NOT run on a treadmill? Please share.






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22 thoughts on “FFF: Say “No” to the Treadmill

  1. Living in Florida, I don’t own a treadmill (because that would just be silly!) But when I lived up north I didn’t own a treadmill either- it wasn’t a common things to have in your house back then. And I just ran in all types of weather- it can be done, on most days. I think the one limiting factor is ice- if it’s extremely icy you’re probably better off inside. And, for moms of young kids, I can see how a treadmill would be a lifesaver. Otherwise, I agree with all your points!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree about ice. I may skip a run. But it’s rare that the weather is that bad several days in a row.

      Of course if you can’t leave young kids at home it would be useful. Hopefully you could find time in the evening or weekend to get outdoors.


  2. Amen, Sister!!!! The treadmill always (and that is NOT an exaggeration) jacks up my stride/form. My long legs don’t like the constant “smooth” and uneventful surface, and I’m constantly paranoid about stubbing my toes due to my long stride length. Hence, I try to shorten my strides, which always feels awkward. A friend of mine, several years ago, constantly whined about how she was disappointed in her performance during races in the heat of summer…because she trained exclusively on a treadmill, LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree 100%, I hate the treadmill.
    However it helped me to come back to walk after the femur fracture.
    I remember during the training for the Florence marathon (2006), when I couldn’t skip any workout, I ran 21,1 km on it because outside there was a heavy rainstorm! It was a nightmare!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll just say that right now I’m very happy to have a functioning treadmill. I have run in all sorts of difficult weather conditions, but I find it a lot less stressful knowing I can easily get in a quick run and also don’t have to worry about frostbite or falling in bad conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I said it is convenient for some runners.

      But you can do without and be a even better runner.

      I’m lucky that I can usually find a safe place and a companion. No stress.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do not think that using a treadmill hurts your running. Much like walking during runs.

        I would never tell anyone they need a treadmill, but neither would I try to make them feel they are hurting their running by using one.


  5. I will opt to run outside if I can but for about three months of the year on a handful of days ice can be a huge concern and the efforts to clear it are not that great around here so you end up with crusty snow, ankle twisting frozen footprint tracks, glazed pavement/black ice, and dry pavement all in the course of a mile. I have peregrine ice+ shoes that help immensely but after taking more than one nasty fall, if it’s not an easy run day and those conditions exist, I will run on a treadmill instead. Rain, snow, wind, cold, heat, humidity does not stop me from running outside but ice… I am always scouting out my running paths during the day when running errands in hopes of finding clear ones to run on.


  6. I definitely would not risk getting injured. If I can’t find a safe place to run I would skip it. But usually it’s just easier to go outside and I never regret it. But the first step out the door is the hardest.


  7. I’m not a confrontational person but I strongly disagree with this post. I have broken my leg twice slipping on the ice and purchasing a treadmill for safe continuous running has been of the smartest and best investment I’ve made for my fitness. It is very much still running and I just ran a 3:45 marathon with a vast majority of my miles on the treadmill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry this made you angry. I too broke my ankle falling on the ice. I don’t recommend running outside where it is unsafe. Of course it is still running. Obviously you have been very successful as a treadmill runner. Not everyone is.

      In my opinion if you can, you are better off running outside.


      • I think it’s elitist & unhelpful to say that there is something wrong with treadmill running or that one way of running is wrong or ‘less than’ another. I would encourage people to try running however they can and to say yes to the treadmill. Many of my mom friends can only fit in time on the treadmill while their babies nap and I would never tell them to say no to the treadmill even if the weather is amazing outside, they should feel encouraged to do it however it works. I can disagree without being angry but I strongly disagree.


  8. Ok. I guess we can agree to disagree.

    I do agree with you that you should do WHATEVER WORKS for you.

    Many of my runner friends (real and virtual) have difficulty running on it as do I. These were reasons that I found online that could explain why it is hard for some of us. That was the point of the post.

    As I said. Kudos to you. You make it work.


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