One of the most common questions new runners have to ask when it comes to running is if they are better off running outside or in the gym. This is often personally preferred, but there are real advantages and disadvantages in both approaches.
The gym offers a cozy, warm atmosphere that is particularly tempting during the cold winter months. The treadmill also has a softer surface that can be better used to prevent injury. Due to the speed controls, the treadmill makes it easy to measure progress and the integrated heart monitor ensures that you do not work beyond your ability.
As a machine, however, a treadmill does not replicate the road running experience, which can be a problem if you work towards an outdoor event. If you prefer to train indoors, make sure you set the tilt on the treadmill to 1.5, as this is considered to be the most comparable setting for real road travel. Take a few steeper inclines to get used to the hills or you can get a shock on the day of the race!
Outdoor running is another experience. You are open to the elements to start with, so you need to make sure you have the right kit for the right weather. You can also run hard on joints and bones on tarmac, so make sure that some of your training is on softer surfaces such as tracks, grass or sand to break your legs.
However, being in the fresh air– with scenery to take in– can be a real distraction from running pain, especially when you start, and you can find it easier to stay longer.
Since you can’t see your speed and time immediately, you can run at your natural pace and work on how your body feels, which is a great way to make yourself more comfortable.
We recommend that you try a mix of both the treadmill and the outdoor when you start. Do your longer runs outside so that you have distractions to keep you going and you get used to the road. Speedwork can be easier on a ladder, because you can time your intervals exactly and measure your progress very precisely.