On Road vs Treadmill

I am getting a lot of wisdom from my neighbors on choice of surface for running. I can either run on the road or on the treadmill. Unfortunately, there is no trail or beach close to where I live where I can run. I definitely feel it in my knees and shins after a run on the road. While a run on treadmill is easier while running, it hurts more later. I usually run for 30mins 3-4 times a week, and try to do close to 5k each time I run.

So I want to tap the wisdom of community: What is a better surface to regularly run on: Road or Treadmill?


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10 Replies

  • It depends.

    As you have found, the treadmill is more gentle on the joints. But is gentle the same as good? Or might it be the case that your knees get used to the impact after a while on the road? Not sure there's a definitive answer to that.

    But if the question had been about "what is better for your mental well being, road or treadmill" I'd have said "road" in a heartbeat. Fresh air, fresh smells, sounds, nice views, wind, occasional rain, far far more refreshing in the long run than the treadmill.

  • I agree with Tomas. A treadmill is great when the weather is really awful (especially if you have one at home), but while any exercise is better than none, I don't think anything can beat getting out into the fresh air. No gym environment can be as interesting or stimulating as the outdoors. If you find that road running gives you aches, it may be worth checking whether you can do anything to change that, eg. are your trainers suitable for running on the road or do you need better cushioned running shoes. In the end it's your choice, but better the treadmill than no running at all!

  • any recommendations for road running shoes?

  • That's difficult to say as there are a lot of good brands out there - you really need to got to a shop and try them on, see what fits and feels best and get advice from the shop assistant. It may be more expensive initially, but it will be worth it. After the first pair you'll be able to order online or buy in outlet stores.

  • any recommendations for road running shoes?

  • I prefer running outside, but it doesn't have to be an either or. It's good to mix things up and if your joints are giving you grief a regular run on the treadmill won't hurt. But don't give up the outside runs, the fresh air and scenery is worth a little extra struggle.

  • I had never run on treadmill or the road in my life. But now, I live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Here one can't just run on the street or have parks to enjoy a run. The only option I have is to run on the road in my housing complex, which is anything but interesting nor does it have any fresh air. The other option is to hit the treadmill. While I do prefer to run outside despite all the challenges, I am wary that I may be harming my body too much.

  • Ah. Your neighbourhood does indeed change the usual cheerful advice about running outdoors and enjoying the greenery a bit.

  • Blimey the choice between running around a housing complex or running on a treadmill isn't much of a choice. Given the status of women over there, I'd be on a treadmill, but I'd be varying the gradient during my runs to introduce a bit of variety. If you do decide to run outside, then good shoes really are a must. However, a pair of gel insoles may suffice as a temporary measure to increasing the cushioning in your present shoes, until you can get some new ones. Good luck Bugdoctor, keep zapping those critters, code ones, six legged ones and microscopic ones alike! :)

  • Thanks! while this place is not the same for women as Europe, this isn't too bad either. Women can live as they like in housing compounds, and some housing compounds are as big as suburbs. I see many women and young girls jogging, playing ball, or just relaxing otherwise.

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