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Treadmill versus outside running

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Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Reina on Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:44 pm

Hi all!

Thought I'd throw something out and see what the collective wisdom has to offer! I try to run outside as often as possible; I prefer it and it matches "racing" conditions more (not that I really race, but still ...). Most of the year, it's pretty comfortable to run outside even in the dark and cold, it's not too bad. But we're in the time of the year where my entire morning runs are dark and cold - and I'm struggling to push myself out the door some mornings to face the dark and cold.

So, some days I go to the gym and run on the treadmill. I don't love running on the treadmill, but I don't hate it and at least I'm not so dang cold (or running in the dark worrying about whether I'm going to trip on something or get hit by a car!).

So, what's everyone's thoughts on treadmill vs road running? What training downsides are there to hitting the treadmill more often in the winter? Just interested in everyone's thoughts!

Happy running to all!

--Reina
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Traveller on Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:48 am

For various reasons, I do a lot of my running on the treadmill. In my case and with respect to my treadmill, I find that running the race is easier than running on the treadmill. The two things you will have to consider when doing a lot of running on the treadmill is that the surface may be more forgiving than the normal road surface you will face in a race. Also, since the treadmill sets a constant, or at least controlled, pace, you may have an issue with pacing in the race. My treadmill has a minimum grade 1.5% which is considered my some as the amount needed to make up for not having to move through air resistance.

I look at it as a case where I will likely not run if I didn't run on the treadmill. With that trade-off, it is easy to get on the treadmill and just run.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  ounce on Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:41 am

It depends on the need for the run, but I prefer the outside in the dark and pretty cold to a treadmill. This morning was an exception because I'm tapering and I didn't want to get all bundled up for a 5 mile run in 32 degree weather. So, I ran on the treadmill for about 50 minutes (about 3 miles and change). My cadence monitor was so far off as to actual pace.

I don't like running on treadmills, but I'll do it rarely. I'm concerned with getting sideways and splatting like George Jetson during the closing credits of "The Jetsons". My usual routes are on sidewalks, are street lit, and I've been running them for 8 years. It's equally rare to run my routes in the daylight. SO many cars in the daylight. Wink
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  JohnP on Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:55 am

Reina, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using a treadmill as you state. It's way more beneficial to get some miles in on the TM, than to skip a run entirely because of the difficulty of the dark. I am in the same situation you are. Though I do go outside more now, it's mainly because there is no ice and snow on the ground. If they were here, I would use the TM much more regularly.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:04 pm

Reina - Like you, I run outside 99% of the time, but in the winter or when I have some specific "speed" workouts to do, I have resorted to using the dreadmill more often in the past year than I ever did before. I do not think I have been hurt by this at all, and I think the miles on the mill have actually helped me since I was able to run more miles this past year (2011) than I have in over 10 yrs. So those days when it is below 20 (like this morning, yes we have them in Atlanta) or raining so hard you can't see and be safe or snowing or iced in, it has become a godsend.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Jerry on Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:24 pm

Reina, if outside, you run mostly or like me exclusively on concrete, I would strongly suggest move a big % to softer surface. I regret very much on my own action. No
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Nick Morris on Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:34 pm

I too love the outdoors. I also definitely avoid the treadmill when ever possible. So much so, that I chose my gym based on it having an indoor track. So far this winter I have been lucky enough to not have to utilize the track as much as in the past. I would choose running in the dark and cold outside instead of the treadmill any day...
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Dave-O on Tue Jan 03, 2012 6:48 pm

In the winter I split my mileage pretty close to 50-50 between outside and treadmill. I like running outside, but with the preparation of bundling up, the dark, worrying about ice, etc. - the treadmill is a nice alternative. I believe using both helps mentally get through the winter.

Physiologically, I think the only difference is that the treadmill is slightly easier on your legs due to softer impact. Thats great for recovery runs; for long runs, you may notice some fatigue when transitioning back to outside.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  mountandog on Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:37 pm

I hate the treadmill and respect those of you who can tolerate such a mindnumbing experience. I've run about 5500 miles the last 3 years and run about 15 on a treadmill, and that's living in Michigan where we get all sorts of nasty weather. Yes, sometimes it's hard to hit those paces in 4 inches of slop and ice, but the HR gets up where its supposed to be at least. I find the challenge of -10F and 20mph winds to be intimidating while inside looking out, but tolerable once out there. I like the varying challenges and it keeps the runs interesting. Over the years I've only missed one run due to weather - glare ice - and shortened a couple of others by a couple of miles due to the depth of the snow.

So "here's to" tonights run of 11 miles around 8pm in the cold dark, with hat and gloves on and lights ablazin'. At least there is no snow on the ground.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Jack_Scaff on Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:07 pm

Because I slack and like shortcuts, I do a decent # of my weekend runs on the mill. It is not uncommon I will do 2-3 long Sunday runs/month...from 12-16 miles.

I will echo what Dave said - you can "feel" the road when you go back out - and it is worth mentioning that I even do all of my 3 midweek runs (max of 8 miles) outdoors.

As an aside I noticed that RW has something from a pro-TM guy - I have not yet read it.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  mul21 on Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:13 pm

From a fitness standpoint, I really don't think there's much of a difference. From an effect on the body standpoint, I think there's a pretty huge difference, both positive and negative. I ran on a mill for the first time in a while last night, and even though I took it very easy, I'm sore in a few places that i really shouldn't be, which tells me my stride was altered in some way that I'm not a big fan of by the mill. I've run much faster than I did last night outside over the last few weeks with nothing but some quad soreness from time off. This morning I'm sore in the hip flexors, both side of the groin, and just some generally weird soreness that I wouldn't normally expect from something as easy as i did last night.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Reina on Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:25 pm

Thanks all for your thoughts and experiences. I'm still working on the right balance for me for this time of the year. I think I can use the treadmill more in the winter this year without too much negative impact ... I just can't face freezing, dark runs outside every day right now!

Thanks again,

--Reina
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Michael Mitchell on Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:23 pm

I have been a treadmill runner for almost 6 years now. I cannot tell the difference. I just cannot when I go outside. The last race that I did (October 2010), I ran a low 42 for 10K and experienced nothing bad at all. Just my three cents.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Ben Z on Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:10 pm

I am a fan of using the treadmill when ice, high winds or very cold temperatures make a run outside unsafe or nearly impossible to hit target splits, etc.

The only downside, for me, is that I find it harder to hit faster times on the treadmill. I know it's supposed to be easier to run on the treadmill (and yes I raise the grade to 1%) but the opposite is true for me. I can hit tempo/10k/5k times easier outside then I can on the treadmill. Perhaps it is because of the layer of hot air that builds up around me / the increasing humidity? All I know is that I struggle with speed workouts on the dreadmill.

But the biggest upside is that you can run on a softer surface and this should hopefully help you recover faster for the next workout. For this reason I use the treadmill quite regularly when a softer trail is inaccessible.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  KathyK on Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:59 pm

I've just recently purchased a treadmill, so I'm somewhat of a newbie treadmill runner. But I had gotten to the point that coming home from work and then going outside to run in the cold/dark took more mental energy than I can spare at the moment. (Two loved ones being diagnosed with cancer in two weeks) I hated having to dodge the cars and the dogs that charged out from the darkness on our unlit/un-sidewalked streets. Having the treadmill enables me to run and blow off some steam without having to worry about the dangers of the dark in addition to the other worries right now.

I'm glad that I read the comments about setting the incline up to 1.5% or so to mimic the effort level of the outdoors. I had been doing that anyway, just because, so it's good to know that's a good plan.

I'm not actively training for anything, just running for fitness, so it works well for me. I'm a fan so far.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  dot520 on Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:03 pm

Sorry that I cannot remember where I read this, but the whole changing of the elevation to mimic outdoors has been de-bunked for those of us who run under (I believe) 8:00 min/miles. There was a study done (where the %*(# did I read that?) and those running slower showed no benefit to increasing elevation. Now, just for the record...since you have the opportunity to do so on a TM, you might as well mix it up some so I'll do a random hill run but not go over 2% if it's not hill training.

Okay...might have been Running Times Mag or where all the truth is...somewhere on the internet.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Ben Z on Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:35 pm

Here is a calculator I use if I need to figure out equivalent pace levels compared to outside/typical wind-resistant runs:

http://www.hillrunner.com/training/tmillchart.php

I have found it to be accurate based on equivalent effort levels.
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Michael Mitchell on Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:38 pm

@Ben Z wrote:Here is a calculator I use if I need to figure out equivalent pace levels compared to outside/typical wind-resistant runs:

http://www.hillrunner.com/training/tmillchart.php

I have found it to be accurate based on equivalent effort levels.



And that has been proven false. I think the latest numbers are 7:30 and slower are equal and 7:30 and faster are 1 percent. I use the 1 percent, but I ran my low 42 10K without inclines. YMMV ( Your mileage may vary)
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  KathyK on Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:39 pm

@Ben Z wrote:Here is a calculator I use if I need to figure out equivalent pace levels compared to outside/typical wind-resistant runs:

http://www.hillrunner.com/training/tmillchart.php

I have found it to be accurate based on equivalent effort levels.
Wow...that's very helpful! Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Ben Z on Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:51 pm

@Michael Mitchell wrote:
@Ben Z wrote:Here is a calculator I use if I need to figure out equivalent pace levels compared to outside/typical wind-resistant runs:

http://www.hillrunner.com/training/tmillchart.php

I have found it to be accurate based on equivalent effort levels.



And that has been proven false. I think the latest numbers are 7:30 and slower are equal and 7:30 and faster are 1 percent. I use the 1 percent, but I ran my low 42 10K without inclines. YMMV ( Your mileage may vary)

Fair enough, but if I am training a few seconds/mile faster than I should be (on a softer surface) then I am OK with that Wink
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Chris M on Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:02 pm

@dot520 wrote:Sorry that I cannot remember where I read this, but the whole changing of the elevation to mimic outdoors has been de-bunked for those of us who run under (I believe) 8:00 min/miles. There was a study done (where the %*(# did I read that?) and those running slower showed no benefit to increasing elevation. Now, just for the record...since you have the opportunity to do so on a TM, you might as well mix it up some so I'll do a random hill run but not go over 2% if it's not hill training.

Okay...might have been Running Times Mag or where all the truth is...somewhere on the internet.

I believe you may have seen it from me as I've posted this article several times and find it very compelling. It convinced me to never run at 1%. When I use the treadmill for hills, I use the full range of the uphill and downhill grades but when I want to mimic "normal" running, I always leave it at 0% as I've found that all of my paces at that incline feel just like they do outside on flat ground and HR data shows that I'm basically doing the same thing indoors or out unless unusual weather is a factor in the outside flat ground running.

The 1% Treadmill Incline Myth:

http://www.hillrunner.com/jim2/id110.html

Part 2:

http://www.hillrunner.com/jim2/id111.html
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  Schuey on Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:13 pm

The only thing that this cat has to say about treadmills is that they haven't done me wrong the past 3 winters training for Boston. All my best races and PR's at the marathon distance over the last couple of years have all come from doing the majority of my training on the mill. Oh I like Chris, I leave the mill at 0% when I not simulating running a hill.

The best advice that I can give anyone is the same old advice everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Find what works for you and trust it, have confidence in it, believe it and love it and most important have fun with it. Trying and doing different things will always help us grow as runners and in life. You have to have confidence in what you are doing and believe in it, if you don't know matter how good of thing it is or could be you will never find out if you don't have those to ingredients the dream won't come true!
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Re: Treadmill versus outside running

Post  ounce on Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:59 am

@Schuey wrote:The best advice that I can give anyone is the same old advice everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Find what works for you and trust it, have confidence in it, believe it and love it and most important have fun with it. Trying and doing different things will always help us grow as runners and in life. You have to have confidence in what you are doing and believe in it, if you don't know matter how good of thing it is or could be you will never find out if you don't have those to ingredients the dream won't come true!

Woohoo, a-MEN! Can I get another AMEN for Brother Schuey!?! cheers

or put another, calmer way....

+1
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