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