Outdoor Run or Treadmill: Which is Best for Runners?

Outdoor Run or Treadmill: Which is Best for Runners?

Professional trainers explain the difference between running outdoors and on the treadmill.

Opinion 1. It depends on your aims and circumstances

Outdoor running is better for you psychological and physical state. You feel the movement and the speed. However, everything depends on the aims and circumstances.

If you live in the location where the air is polluted with the emissions of cars and plants, outdoor running will lead to the storage of the bad metals in your body that will have a negative effect on your health. In this case, the treadmill in the room equipped with the air filter is better.

If you live near the park, opt for outdoor running. In such a way you will fill your body with oxygen and useful phytoncides.

You can use cool treadmills that are activated by the user – EcoMill. They fit for learning a running technique. There are treadmills allowing to run with a high grade – NordicTrack. They can help to get ready for trails and vertical races.

Opinion 2. Use a treadmill more often

I cannot say that I’m a crazy fan of a treadmill, but I’m definitely not against it. I use it in my running practice. In autumn and winter, such treadmill races reach up to 20-30% of my general training amount. There are some pros and cons, and I’ll start with a few negative sides.


  • A treadmill may shorten the step.
  • Until you get used to running on a treadmill, you will feel a bit constrained and enslaved in comparison to easy running in the park.
  • If you do not focus on the work of your feet and hips, your running muscles will get lazy. They won’t work to the maximum, as the treadmill moves itself under your feet. On the street, to move forward you have to push and raise the hip, and not just put one foot in front of the other.
  • Long treadmill running is very monotonous and tiresome, and not everyone will like it. Not every nervous system is ready for such a daily routine.
  • Treadmills are often located in warm, poor ventilated rooms. It means that it is heavier to breathe when running and the average pulse rate will be higher.
  • The incorrect running technique, especially if the training is long, may affect old wounds and injuries: knees, ankles, ligaments, and tendons.


  • A treadmill is perfect for improving a running technique, learning foot positioning and working with hands. It’s great if you have a mirror beside the treadmill, or you have an opportunity to set up a camera and shoot your running. It’s useful.
  • A treadmill is a pitiless trainer. If you have to make intervals in a specified tempo, it fits the best. Set a desired speed and run, like it or not!
  • A treadmill can be the only opportunity for running in case of bad weather, ice, cold snap, prolonged rainy period or storm warning.
  • If you live in a place with the flat ground, and you don’t have an opportunity to run up the hills, a treadmill will come to the rescue. You can change the angle of the grade according to the training goals.
  • In case of injuries and during the off season, when you need to reduce the load, a treadmill is also a good helper. You can combine running and walking, or choose race walking with a grade. By the way, race uphill walking holds the first position for runners among all kinds of cross training.
  • И это преимущество не требует комментариев. If you use a treadmill in the gym, it’s convenient to combine it with a swimming pool and sauna.

Upon the whole, I’d recommend all runners get rid of their prejudges against a treadmill and include it into the training process.

Opinion 3. Outdoor running is better

When you run outdoors, it’s psychologically easier to carry out the whole training volume. It’s easier to vary the tempo. Outdoor training is easier in general. It is often stuffy in the gym. If you are going to train on a treadmill, you always have to bring a bottle of water or a sports drink with you.

I am not sure about the influence of a treadmill on the running technique. I don’t think it is so negative, as it is sometimes described. Many top athletes sometimes train on a treadmill and even do running intervals. If the weather and other circumstances are totally against of your outdoor training, a treadmill will be useful. In other cases it’s better to train outside.

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