Savvy Fitness

Differences Between Outdoor and Indoor Running

Outdoor Running vs. Indoor Running

A short while after the novice runner begins making progress and establishing their healthy habit, they will begin to wonder about their choice of indoor and outdoor running. The common question is this, “is there a big difference between running indoors on a treadmill and outdoors on the roads, paths or trails?”

Every runner will have their own personal preferences and reasons behind them. As a matter of fact, despite minor differences, scientific study also suggests there may be equal benefits available from both styles.

But, obviously there are some major environmental and dynamic differences between the two. In the following article we will take a closer look at some of the major differences and how they can be applied, or compensated for, to achieve the most from your efforts and place you that much closer to you fitness goals.

Indoor Running on Treadmill Apparatuses

Constant Availability

No matter what the weather is outside, the indoor treadmill is always there to support your legs as they carry you over miles of hills, plains and mountains of Middle Earth (or wherever your imagination takes you). Relying on a favorite trail or running route can leave your training program at the mercy of the elements, traffic conditions, holidays, social excitements and anything else that is not in your living room.   

Comfort of the Home

The home treadmill can be situated in the comfort of your living room or den and this has many important benefits to meeting your goals and making uninterrupted progress. For one, if you have younglings, taking off to place some miles between you and your children is or always possible, or even advisable. But, with a treadmill you can chock up a good 10 mile run without ever leaving their side.

If you are so inclined, the treadmill will also allow you to multitask during your workout routine, you can keep an eye on dinner in the oven or slow cooker. Entertainment is there as well, you can blare your favorite album full blast without the threat of oncoming traffic and even catch the latest Game of Thrones episodes while you imagine yourself running with the Dothraki Horde.

Less Impact, Obstacles and Risks of Injury

Pounding the pavement is hard on the hooves. One of the nicest things about a treadmill is that a lot of the impact absorbed by the joints is absorbed by the nice cushy surfaces. This allows for a much lighter push-off than required in the great outdoors. If you are concerned about the conditions of your joints for any number of conditions, special folding treadmills are available that are even easier on the joints.

Furthermore, while you are out in the open road you will need to contend with other runners, possible traffic, fallen tree limbs, possible hostile assailants, unfriendly wildlife, hidden obstacles and anything else that crosses your path. Treadmills offer the controlled environment that is more like a professional competition, which could be helpful to perfecting your cadence.

Fine-tune your Efforts

Working in the controlled environment of your homes will allow you to fine-tune the minutiae of your competitive training. Before you can cut it in the professional decathlons, you will need to have your intake of carbs and fluids as well as all other details ground down to a fine science. This will involves a lot of intuitive practice that is better analyzed without the distractions of traffic, birds and what not.

Exact Training Programs

Are you getting ready for the Boston Marathon? Even if you lived in Boston the only way to replicate the challenges and inclines you will face is with a top-of-the-line treadmill. By entering the specifics of your running environment you can set elevations as you need them.  This allows for a very rigid training program needed for a edge in competitive events.

Advantages of Outdoor Training

Well-rounded muscle engagement

According to FlexMasterGeneral, on a treadmill, machine power is provided to spin the belt and this affects the dynamics of your stride to any degree. On a treadmill it is the quads that receive the most effort when lifting the foot from the belt and the spin of the belt provides a bit of a boost in this action.

When running outdoors the world will not move beneath your feet so you get no aid in your effort. This means the hamstrings will be required for greater effort when finishing the stride and lifting for the next one. All-in-all running outside in the “real world” is a more effective exercise as it engages the muscles as they ought to be engaged, naturally.  

Fun and Exciting

Despite all the advantages of the treadmill, eventually you will have to laugh at all the miles you have run without moving from a single spot, and it gets a bit monotonous. A huge part of getting good exercise is psychological and the open road has a call to action you just can’t find in a mechanical apparatus. Running outside opens up a world of greater dimensions, unexpected encounters and a change of scenery.

Healthy environment

There is something physically and mentally therapeutic about running over hills meadows and through forests. Taking the time to breathe in the fresh clean air of these natural environments is not only invigorating but also very relaxing. Fresh air as found in a forest or park environment can counter the effects of stress and anxiety and contribute to emotional balance. This might not be possible in your home where the familiar sights and sounds can keep your mind and imagination confined.

Vitamin D

There is a famine at work in this highly convenient day and age where it is quite possible to live an entire life lurking in the shadows of subways, indoor office buildings, after dark works schedules and treadmills in livingrooms –– what are we becoming? Vampires?

The only problem with all this nocturnal fixation is that human beings require the light of the sun for many biological processes, possibly the most important of which is the assimilation of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential because the proper assimilation of many other vitamins and minerals depends upon it. So, if you are feeling lethargic, confused, hungry, listless or distressed no matter how healthy your diet or cautious your exercise programs, you may forgetting this vital ingredient to better health.

Get all the healthy vitamin D and sunlight needed for maintaining circadian rhythms with a healthy half hour in the sun each day—and you might as well get in a run for your money.

One Comment

  • Lauryn R

    This is such a great post, thank you so much for sharing! I have always thought it was silly to run outdoors, especially down busy streets or ones that cars constantly drive down. I could imagine it is not the best air to breath either, not to mention the extremely hard pavement. About the only the benefit to me is the Vitamin D from the sun, however I don’t think you have to be working out to get sun! I love the convenience of running on a treadmill at home.

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