Treadmill Vs Outdoors Question: Can anyone tell... - Couch to 5K

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Treadmill Vs Outdoors Question

Xonica profile image

Can anyone tell me why I can run 30 mins on a treadmill, I'm not as hell with sweat literally dripping from my nose, but I'm not shattered or out of breath...I could likely keep going, but when I'm running outside its so much harder! I have only used the treadmill twice, and already I know it's only going to be for days when it's just too wet or icy because I enjoy running outside far better even though it's harder. Anyway, I just wondered if anyone had any logic behind why it's easier?

15 Replies

It always reminds me of the difference between playing a keyboard and a real pinanner whose keys are higher, heavier and have more resistance.

I think it's the same with running - the treadmill is partly motorised so it's helping to move itself under you. Pavement doesn't do that - all of the movement has to come from your body. Also you have to lift your legs higher - fight gravity more. Like spinning vs cycling - same idea.

No doubt someone will come along who knows about the actual physics. :)

Xonica profile image
XonicaGraduate in reply to hopelessCause

That's an interesting way to see it! And one I understand so thank you ( lol ) x

hopelessCause profile image
hopelessCause in reply to Xonica

:) That's good!

Also treadmills are always at the same level once you set the incline - pavement undulates and even tiny gradients can be really hard work, I find. There are no visual distractions and concerns to worry about on the treadmill - the proximity of traffic, dogs and other people all grab some of your attention.

I must admit - I've never run on a treadmill. I have to hold on to the handles even when I walk on them in case I fall off the back!

Like this poor guy....

Running outside is harder as you have to use your legs to propel yourself forward rather than the treadmill belt doing some of the work for you. I was always a treadmill runner until November last year, I wouldn't go back to a gym now. I find I don't get as hot, I see much more wildlife and enjoy the fresh air.

I think it is always easier on a treadmill - and boring...

Road or trail surfaces are more irregular, and your body has to adapt to that.

And then there is the aerodynamic resistance - outside one moves forward - even when there is no wind the movement itself creates an apparent wind that goes in the direction opposite to the one you move- not going to go into the details of forces here, there maybe someone that can explain this a bit better... no scientist here !

Coddfish profile image

Treadmills - lower impact, constant speed / incline (as set), treadmill belt doing some work for you, even temperature in air conditioned room (usually), no wind, no bends or camber, even surface, place to put your water bottle, handles to grip when you want..... But so boring.

Outdoors - surface might be too hard or too soft, uneven, hills, bumps, dogs, rain, gailforce winds........ Views, sunshine, birdsong, variety, people, cafes, pubs, Parkruns.... I know what I prefer!

Burstcouch profile image

Can't answer your question but what I do know is that after running outside for a few years I find I cannot use a treadmill. I find it really difficult.

rmnsuk profile image

coddfish has listed most of the differences. One important difference is wind resistance. none on the treadmill, lots outside. This is why you might want to set the incline to 1% to compensate.

But the treadmill is perfect for intervals. You can vary the pace and set it to exactly what you want and the time is in front of you. And since you are tracking time and pace it's a bit less boring than straight running.

There seems to be quite a lot of negativity towards treadmill running as opposed to outdoors, like its cheating somehow. Can I just point out, its still running, its still exercise and often its still hard. If its your preferred method and means you'll actually do it then good for you. I got to week 3 outdoors before giving up. I live in a rough area and several women (and men) were attacked in my area. RUNNing outdoors late in the evening (the only chance I get as my hubby is a lorry driver who comes home late and we have two young children) was not safe. I now go to a safe and secure gym, where I can use the exercise bike, small weights, and do my couch to 5k on the treadmill. Feeling good. Do what is right for you xx

A1nsworth profile image

So glad there was a thumbs up for the treadmill.I was reading the post and felt a fraud as I did c25 all on the treadmill.The bonus is that you don't have to put up with dogs rain wind and people banging into you.I live in London and joggers are a pain in the neck.Any running is good

JuliaM72 profile image

I also graduated on the treadmill and found the couple of runs I've done outside since near killed me. However I loved it but found I had a tendency to walk when I wanted as opposed to not being able to on the treadmill. If I didn't have the treadmill I would never have started running and it is still running as a few people have said. I try and get out once a week but do the rest on treadmill. I'm just getting back into it after 2 weeks out with chest infection. Good luck with your running and hope the outdoors get easier for all of us!

Sandyw profile image

Well I must be odd as find it much easier to run outside than on the treadmill!!

Xonica profile image

Thanks for all your input on this guys, it all makes a lot of sense! I live in Scotland so there are sure going to be days I will want to run indoors, ice and snow running doesn't sound fun, though I do enjoy running in the rain! I am also about to start uni ( I'm 43... Very mature student! ) and the uni has a free state of the art gym which I'm very excited about!! :)

JuliaM72 profile image

Ahh well good luck and make the most of the sunny days. Hope your studies go well and 43 isn't too bad to restart. Fair play you are very brave. Best of luck with both :-)

Yes I think you are right. Yesterday I went on my treadmill and ran for 20 minutes without stopping W5R3,and like you I only do it when the weather is atrocious as I love running outside. So I am going to repeat this outside next week and probably it will be harder as where I live it is quite hilly and potholey etc. So I shall see then how I will do then.😀😀

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