As you gear up to get started on your running routine, one of the most important things that you might be asking yourself is where to do your runs. While some people have a srong preference of either the treadmill or outside, others may not be so sure.

Is one better than the other? Would you see enhanced results running outdoors compared to on a treadmill? Or perhaps the treadmill is better?

By understanding the differences between the two, you can make a more informed decision on where to do your runs.

Let’s go over what you should know.

The Belt Factor

First, right from the start, you should know that it is easier to run on the treadmill for the simple reason that since the belt is moving underneath you, this will propel the body forward.  With the ground outside, you don’t get this movement; therefore the work is 100% on you.

Now, some people suggest that you can simply increase the belt incline to 1% and this will help overcome the difference, making it feel more like the same difficulty as running outside.

So if this is a concern for you, that is one way to get around it.

The Stats Factor

The next difference to know about is the stats factor, which is basically the fact that the treadmill will allow you to precisely track your speed and distance as you do your run.

While you can always wear a pedometer outside, it’s hard to know your accurate speed that you’re running at, so if you are looking to improve performance, this can be a very helpful thing.

While of course you can always use how far you’ve covered (distance travelled) in the duration of time you spent running, you won’t know how fast you’re going while you’re running.

Therefore, you can’t make the precise during run adjustments that you could if you had been on the treadmill.  For those who are doing speed work, this can be a major disadvantage of running outside.

The Boredom Factor

Next you have the boredom factor.  How many people really truly love running for hours in one spot?

Very few.

This is where running outside definitely takes the cake. When you go for a run outside, you can easily try new pathways, check out scenery, and if nothing else, just take in the great outdoors.

With a treadmill, this is next to impossible.  If you are someone who easily gets bored during your runs, this might be one factor that drives you to do them outside. Since adherence is key for results, you simply can’t fall short here.

The Injury Factor

The next thing to know about is the injury factor. You can experience injuries in both locations, but for different results.  Outside, your injury risk is higher as there could be a divot in the road or something else that causes you to roll an ankle, experiencing an immediate injury.

On the treadmill, you won’t have this issue.  That said, what you will have is the potential for overuse injuries. Since the belt never changes unlike a road which does, this can mean that you stress the foot the exact same way, step after step. This in time can lead to great problems and pain.

The Weather Factor

The weather can also be a very important factor to consider. If you live in an area where you frequently get rain or cold weather, the treadmill may be the only option.  Having a treadmill available means that you can do your runs, rain or shine.

The same cannot be said for outdoor running.

The Interval Factor

Finally, the last factor to now is the interval factor, which is all about how easily you can accelerate to top speeds. If you are someone who wants to be involved with high intensity interval training, you’ll want to be running primarily outside as often as you can.

With the treadmill, it can take some time to accelerate the belt up to top speed, and by the time it reaches that, your interval is half over.

Outside, you can get to top speed as fast as you can, which is a direct reflection of your own personal fitness level, not a reflection of a machine.

This means you get more out of your interval training, making faster progress.

So there you have some key differences to note. One is not better than the other, but rather, they have pros and cons you should know about. Both will allow you to complete any training program you find such as the 10K trainer or half marathon trainer, so fortunately, neither is prohibitive.

Which do you prefer? Treadmill running or outdoor running?