Running Inside Versus Outside: What Gets Faster Results?

Fitness // Louise McDonald

This is a common question amongst budding runners: whether it’s best to run indoors on a treadmill, or pound the pavement outside.

Does this make a difference to your results and can they be achieved quicker with one versus the other?

The truth is, there are pros and cons to each! If you are new to running, choosing a combination of both can be a great mix, while if you’re training for a specific running event it’s best to follow the same method as the event itself.

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons to both types of running:

Treadmill:

Pros:

  • Provides some cushioning, which can help prevent or assist injury
  • Not governed by the weather and for those with allergies, this takes out being affected by the air
  • Can set at a pace and follow this without constant monitoring
  • Easier to keep up fluids and carbs if performing lengthy sessions
  • Can be safer indoors by avoiding traffic and darkness
  • Can be easier to work on form
  • Easier to listen to books/podcasts

Cons:

  • May not be as effective with pushing at a quicker pace
  • Can be boring and watching the time
  • No variety
  • No wind resistance
  • Lack of challenge with agility
  • Time restrictions at the gym

Outside:

Pros:

  • You can run anywhere
  • No time constraints
  • Fresh air and sunshine
  • A dose of vitamin D
  • Better for breathing technique
  • More pleasurable scenery and visual experiences
  • Different terrain for training more muscles and working on stability
  • Better oxygen consumption with more wind resistance
  • More challenges through motivation with course changes and distances
  • You can run with a furry friend!

Cons

  • Bad weather can hinder successful runs
  • Cars and/or pedestrians can be an obstacle in some areas
  • Injuries through unstable/unpredictable surfaces and ice etc
  • Hazards
  • Not as easy to rehydrate or refuel on long runs
  • No bathrooms.. Yikes!

Summing things up

If you are training for a specific running goal, it’s best to train outdoors as much as possible, to model the exact environment that you will be completing your event in.

If you are simply running in shorter intervals as part of a combination to your training, feel free to change things up and have fun with your preferred method.

Research has shown that setting an incline of 1% on a treadmill can be effective for simulating the intensity of an outdoor run, however, training only on the treadmill does not prepare you physically for a race or a distance goal as such.

You’ll notice that our 1/2 Marathon, 1/2 Marathon Advanced and Marathon Fitness Programs are written with the outdoors exercise location for this reason! Click here to find out more.

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