Treadmill Running vs. Outdoor Running

Passionate runners love to run. They run rain, shine, snow and sun.

But sometimes the weather is just too hot or cold, or it’s too dark or not safe. Sometimes the runner just wants a change of pace. So what are the differences between treadmill running versus outdoors?

Treadmill Running Pluses

On the treadmill the machine actually helps to move the feet back which means the workload is actually less than working outdoors. Running on the treadmill means you don’t have to put up with the outdoor weather but you also don’t have the advantage of the changing scenery to distract you from the perceived exertion.

Another pro to working out on the treadmill is that you can stop your run anytime and you don’t have to walk home.

You can do your workout during your favorite television show. With the new treadmills that are available today you can even have your own television on the individual treadmill.

Treadmill Running Minuses

By: ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser

But treadmill running also has con’s to the process. There is no change of scenery to distract you, the route is the same each day, you can’t run turns and you can’t practice running down hill.

Running outdoors has some issues with personal safety, running through the weather and it’s necessary to have some clothing for the weather.

But running outdoors also gives a runner the ability to change routes, change scenery, run downhill, around corners and with others. Running outside can be more motivating, burn more calories and runners report more feelings of accomplishment with running outdoors.

Treadmill running can reach an even plateau by making changes to the way that you use the treadmill to achieve your goals.

Adapting to Treadmill Running

You should first realize that running on the treadmill with 0% incline your exertion is less than running outdoors because the belt helps to bring your foot backwards. The way to incorporate that into your run is to increase the incline to 1% to make up for the decreased exertion.

Next find something to use as a distraction. Many people find that they can run further outside than they can on the treadmill because the perceived exertion is greater on the treadmill.

Researchers have found that runners who use a distraction, such as music, television or listening to books on tape, can provide enough of a distraction to keep your mind off of any perceived pain or discomfort.

And finally if you are training for a specific event, use the treadmill for only 40% of your training.

If you aren’t able to train outdoors for 60% of the time then take heart. There have been athletes who have trained more than 60% on the treadmill but still go on to compete effectively at their sport.

If you are falling short on your weight loss goal, consider taking a look at my recommended nutritional plan <— When you get your nutrition sorted out, I suggest you have a look at my recommended training program <—


Active: Indoor vs. Outdoor Running

Runners World: How Effective is Treadmill Running Compared to Running Outside

Runners Connect: Treadmill vs Running Outside

Top photo by: Lynn Hasselberger