Treadmills vs The Great Outdoors

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Hmm that looks fun?
 
For anyone who is not familiar with what I am writing about, this Blog preaches ‘no more treadmills ‘.
 
Many people run solely on treadmills for numerous reasons that I will mention below, whereas I personally will never run on one again (probably).
 
This anti-treadmill movement was born from several negative mind-numbing personal experiences of running on treadmills in hotels around the world.
 
For example, one hotel in Abu Dhabi stated “20 minutes only “, so the treadmill would stop without warning after this amount of time and you had to restart the machine!
 
Another at an unnamed gym near my house in Suffolk had a faulty fuse, so it could simply lose all power at any point causing you to run into the front handrail and display! Not ideal.
 
Putting aside my feelings, here is a head-to-head of Treadmill vs The Great Outdoors
 
A run through Paris or a French gym? Tough choice
 
Routes
 
Treadmill – Well what do you know, you ‘ve been running for 10 miles and you are still staring at yourself in the mirror!
 
To be fair, treadmills offer a wide range of workouts meaning you can run a flat route, a hill session or both at the press of a button. But yes, you are still in that same room!
 
Outdoors – The best thing about outdoor running is the freedom. You can in theory go wherever and however far you want depending on how you feel.
 
It could be a scenic river or forest trail, a cross country or on the roads, each offering individual challenging interesting characteristics. Personally I like to run a circuit if I can so each bit of the route is new, rather than out and back.
 
So far in my life, I have run passed some of the most famous landmarks in the world and it is a fantastic way to explore a new place or even your own town.
 
Outdoor running wins this round hands down. No doubt!
 
T – 0 TGO – 1
 
An evening run along The Strip in Las Vegas will keep you out of the Casinos, much to the delight of your bank balance and your other half!
 
Safety
 
Treadmill – An obvious positive (through gritted teeth) with running on a treadmill is safety.
 
There ‘s no potholes, no traffic, no muggers (unless you left your gym locker unlocked) and no chance of getting lost.
 
Most are also equipped with safety features such as straps or kill switches should you get carried away and slip off the side or fall of the back.
 
Outdoors – Running on the roads can be quite dangerous at times. Not only in bustling cities but also on winding country lanes without pavements.
 
Not only from traffic, but also from injury should you trip over or turn an ankle in a hole or other unpredictable surfaces.
 
Similarly, trails and cross country offer a higher chance of injury for the same reasons, but mainly their unpredictability. That small puddle could in fact be a gigantic hole…
 
Begrudgingly, treadmills get the killjoy health & safety round!
 
T – 1    TGO – 1
 
Weather Conditions
 
Treadmills – Silly perhaps to mention weather seeing as you are indoors, but the temperature is an issue.
 
Many gyms are not air conditioned so it can get very hot and sweaty very quickly, and once you start you don ‘t want to have to stop to open a window!
 
Outdoors – I have run in snow, rain, hail, fog, sun, wind, freezing temperatures and extreme heat, and can honestly say it is why I love it.
I am not a fair weather runner like some, and for me it is what adds to a workout. If you can run quick in the snow wearing six layers, imagine how quick you ‘ll be on the track in your vest!
 
Wind is probably the toughest though. There ‘s nothing worse then feeling like you are running well so going an extra mile or two, only to turn back and realise it was because of a behind breeze – meaning a brutal run home into a headwind!
 
Some would disagree, but for me the feeling of being up against the elements means TGO wins this round.
 
T – 1    TGO – 2
 
Surfaces & Terrain
 
Treadmill – Yes, it ‘s flat, back and rubber. Still. Not changed at all!
 
The monotonous repetitive experience can lead to lack of motivation and quitting early. However, treadmills are usually more forgiving for those recovering from injuries and puts less stress and strain on joints.
 
Outdoors – Running outside offers more unpredictable surfaces than running on a treadmill.
 
As well as offering variety and interest, it has the benefit of challenging your balance and coordination. Uneven terrain causes you to work harder to counter balance the terrain working your core.
 
For injury prevention, treadmills win – but for me outdoors get this, just because!
 
T – 1     TGO – 3
 
Enjoyment
 
This one is not even up for debate!
 
T – 1 TGO – 4
 
Run along Flinders Street in Australia, sun on your back – or in a hotel gym?
 
Cost
 
Treadmill – At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is another reason to ditch the treadmill!
Prices start at around £150 if you want to buy one outright, the cost of probably two or three pairs of trainers.
 
Alternatively you can use one in your local gym, but this requires normally a joining fee, monthly/weekly membership fees and a commitment for a minimum number of months or weeks. Still want to run on one?
 
Outdoors – Probably the best thing about running outside is that once you’ve got a half decent pair of trainers it is effectively free.
 
 
You can obviously spend a lot of more comfortable shoes, clothing and accessories if you wish, but it is certainly a lot cheaper than joining a gym or buying a treadmill and a lot less of a commitment.
 
T – 1 TGO – 5
 
Pace, Distance & Analysis
 
Treadmill – Allows you to set a pace and to maintain it, which is helpful if you are training for a specific distance or event and have a designated training programme. 
 
 
They also make it easy to monitor your progress with distance and speed on display, which can also be a negative and disheartening if you realise you still have x amount of miles left.
 
Outdoors – Technology now means you can get almost everything and more that a treadmills offers from a running watch or smart phone.
 
From time, distance, pace, calories, music and more, you can ensure your average run has a purpose by setting yourself targets and monitoring them effectively.
 
T – 2 TGO – 6
 
You do not need to go to a gym to be an Athlete
 
Summary
 
Treadmills take a resounding 6-2 drubbing at the hands of The Great Outdoors.
 
I am biased as mentioned in the introduction, but for me there is no way I could motivate myself to run with any kind of frequency or intensity if I was running solely on a treadmill.
 
For anyone who swears by them, please give running outside a try and I guarantee you will never want to run on one again!
 
#nomoretreadmills
 
You can find 40 other blog posts on my blog (www.runnersguidetotheworld.blogspot.co.uk) by using the April and May tabs on the left of the page.
 
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First published on: 19 June, 2012 12:00 am

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