As long as gyms have been around (almost) there has been some iteration of the faithful treadmill to go with them. Run inside, away from the elements. Control your speed, incline and effort. Be kinder to your joints (they say) because of the technology used to design it. Watch TV, turn up the built in fan or just stream Netflix. On the other hand, you good lace up the Asics and get outside. Stare down Mother Nature as you Run through the torrential rain. Dodge the grumpy skunk at 6am and be at one with nature as the Sun crests the horizon. Breathe the fresh air and be at one with the world. Are you a running purist who believes if you aren’t pounding the pavement you aren’t Running, or from the school that the Treadmill is the lower impact way to go?
Let’s Dive In…
The Belted Demon
When it comes down to basics, the Treadmill has a lot going for it. Part of that is the environment it lives in. The temperature is always consistent. Odds are there is a TV or some type of media to distract you and the technology that makes it work is designed to help you. You control the speed, incline and time. Most treadmills are designed to absorb some of the impact that naturally occurs while Running and the built in training programs can help you tone, lose weight and build muscle. It isn’t all roses and champagne though. You are stationary which can lead to boredom. If you aren’t riveted to the show on the screen or the conversation with your neighbor the scenery gets old… Fast. You also have no reason to really push or extend your workout. If you get tired or bored a quick click and you can walk off to try something else and while Treadmills are safe, you still have to pay attention to what you are doing (as exhibited by the numerous YouTube videos showing spectacular wipeouts).
Running is the simplest of all sports (sort of). All you need to do is go. You don’t need fancy equipment or teammates or even shoes, but getting to like Running is a whole different animal. Unlike the stationary glory of the Treadmill, outdoor Running involves just that… the Outdoors. You get to experience the World around you, but with a couple caveats. Weather can play a factor. While you can Run in a four seasons, there comes a point when Ol’ Man Winter throws up serious negative numbers, that you should just stay inside. While you could go out, it is better not to. There is also the challenge of tiny woodland creatures, notably Skunks. No while I haven’t come face-to-face with one yet, I have modified my route upon catching wind that one was in the neighborhood. Oh and there was this one time I wasn’t wearing my glasses and a bunny jumped out and I mistook it for the aforementioned skunk (it must have been hilarious to watch me almost dive out of the way). The last negative I can think of is that you have to find your way home. On the Treadmill, hit stop and head to the showers, but outdoors you need to make it back to you start.
If you had asked me before training for Chicago I would have told you flat out and without hesitation that the Treadmill was the way to go. I still see the value that it offers, the ability to get a Run in when outdoors is too dangerous or unpleasant, but it’s just not the same. I find that I fatigue quicker on the Treadmill (if that even makes sense) and that I just don’t have endurance. If I get outside, no matter how slow the start, my body seems to naturally find my ‘pace’ regardless of elevation change or weather. Speaking of weather, I am happy to Run in any weather, but I will actively try and avoid temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius with the sun beating down on me. Finally for me, it’s the feeling after. Being outside. Finding cool little neighborhoods and interesting places (in Boston, I found an amazing spot in the Seaport neighborhood Adventures with Ant-Man) and how your body feels when you are done. It’s just different then Running on the belt.
What’s your preference? Don’t worry, I won’t be upset if you choose the Treadmill. As I said, they both have their place. In the end it’s the activity itself that matters, not how or where you do it. Simply getting out and moving for 30 minutes, 3 hours or whatever in between is the important part. Speaking oof activity how is your Challenge going? 30 minutes a day of doing something… No matter if you have hit every day or not, keep working towards building that habit of activity and keep your eyes peeled for February’s Challenge!
Here is some extra reading if you are interested…