I’m in Palm Springs for a few days, enjoying a nice little vacation from winter. The lovely hotel at which I’m staying doesn’t have a treadmill, and so I’ve decided to take my cardio out of doors.
Running outside is a totally different beast, and so it begs the question: Is it right for you? The answer depends on a number of factors, and there are pros and cons for each.
Running Inside (Treadmill)
I love treadmill running for one reason: It’s easy to clock speeds and distances. It’s totally measurable. Nothing is left to guesswork, and if you set the treadmill to 9.5 MPH then that is the speed at which you will run. Moreover, the course is entirely customizable. You can add in hills whenever you want. Treadmills give a lot of control to the runner. And, they can be used any time of the day, any day of the year – rain, sleet, snow or shine.
But treadmill running isn’t all sunshine and roses. Many people find it painfully monotonous, even if running with headphones or watching TV. I actually enjoy the monotony; it feels like a meditation to me. But beyond the repetitive nature of treadmill running, many running enthusiasts will notice that the belt does provide some running assistance – and that there is no wind resistance indoors. If you’re training for a running event, you’ll find it much harder to achieve treadmill speeds outdoors. Adding a slight elevation to the treadmill (even 1%) can help overcome the belt’s running assistance and lack of resistance.
I think the biggest advantage to running outside is the ability to enjoy the scenery. But actually. I had so much fun running up and down the desert streets of Palm Springs, checking out the architecture and viewing the landscapes. It was gorgeous – and my cardio time literally flew right by. When running on the treadmill, time tends to stand still. Outside, it’s quite the opposite. In addition, outdoor courses are the real thing. There are hills, ups, downs, turns and wind resistance. If you’re training for a running event, nothing beats actual pavement experience.
Unfortunately, however, it’s much harder to determine running speed, keep track of distance, etc. Unlike the treadmill, outdoors running isn’t measurable – and the runner has little control. And snow, ice, rain or darkness can make for dangerous running conditions.
If you’re just running for exercise, and provided you are not completely bored by indoors running, then the treadmill is probably your best bet. If, on the other hand, you’re training for a competitive running event, there’s really nothing that can beat actual outdoor training – or at least a mix of indoor and out.
Do you run inside or out? Why? Let us know in the comments below.