Outside Running Vs. Treadmill Running

I have been running for 5 weeks (only my 3rd week on Hal Higdon’s ½ Marathon Training Program). Leaving the gym this morning I was feeling pretty good about my level of commitments and my progress so far until my training partner burst my bubble by stating that we need to run outside more.

“What difference does that make?” I wondered.

She claimed that it was easier to run on a tread mill because it was a softer surface and your body doesn’t take as much of a pounding. Ugh!

After researching the topic, I’m still not backing her theory about the body taking less of a pounding on the tread mill, but I can say that there are some major differences between the two running conditions, differences that are causing me to be a little nervous about my upcoming 5k race on Saturday.

According to my research there are three primary differences,

  1. Lack of wind resistance
  2. The flat unchanging surface of the treadmill deck
  3. Effect of the moving belt on your running or walking stride

Lack of wind resistance

Overcoming this difference is simple; just elevate your treadmill to 1% or level 1. The slight incline will make a treadmill workout more equal to a free range run.

The flat unchanging surface of the treadmill deck

To overcome this  you should do two things.  First, when running on the treadmill, maintain a heightened awareness of the position of the belt, the position of your hips, the angle of your feet, and the amount of forward lean at all stages of your running stride.  Second, practice proprioception at all times.

“Proprioception is important in all running activities, but even more so when running on the treadmill. Runners tend to allow the action of the belt and the lack of wind resistance to change their stride to a more upright, bouncy form with a shorter, less powerful stride. Being more aware of your running mechanics will make it easier to transfer your normal stride to the treadmill and visa versa.”

Rick Morris (Running Planet)

Effect of the moving belt on your running or walking stride

Your running form should not change when you are training on the treadmill. You can avoid this from happening by focusing on your running mechanics.

“The most efficient running posture is one that is mostly upright and relaxed, with a slight, whole body, forward lean beginning at the ankles. You should not lean forward at the waist. Your chest should be pushed out and your shoulders back and relaxed. Avoid all tension in your upper body. Tension is a form wrecker.”

Rick Morris (Running Planet)

What should my stride look like?

According to an article on Running Planet (www.runningplanet.com), you should have a quick, compact running stride. You should take approximately 85-95 full strides per minute, less than that and your spending too much time on you feet.

Okay folks, I hope this helps! I am going to test this out during my runs this weekend.

Do you have any running tips for a running novice?

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7 Responses to Outside Running Vs. Treadmill Running

  1. Chrystal says:

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s time to get back to running, especially with the nice weather.

    • Nicole says:

      You are more than welcome to join us. I am thinking about going hiking Saturday morning, you are wlecome to join me!

  2. Tonya Love says:

    IMO I think the biggest difference between running outside and on a treadmill is the reception you get from other people. I find the gym to be a rather singular place- everyone is focusing on their own workout and not paying much attention to you. (Which is fine with me, because those folks are the ‘super gym’ folks and I just look silly next to them..LOL)

    However, when you are outside, there is such a feeling of comeraderie! Everyone is smiling at each other and when you are running, you get cheerleaders! Maybe it’s because I’m overweight and they just don’t expect to see me running, but there are times where I hear “Yo go girl!” “Keep going!” “Don’t stop” “So proud of you!”. LOVE IT!

    Plus, there are the beautiful views, and the sunny and windy weather just makes you feel good. And when you are outside, you can SEE how far you have run and that makes you feel like you have accomplished something.

    I much prefer to run outside than inside. Well, honestly, I haven’t run inside at all because I can’t figure out the treadmill and get intimidated by it. LOL

    Thanks for the topic. I’m going to post this on my blog!


    • Nicole says:

      Tonya, I totally agree with your view. Here in LA has become second nature to walk by a stranger and not greet them. But in the morning during my run everyone takes the time to say “good morning”! Maybe it’s because they are surprised to see me running too. Great post, thanks for the shout out!

  3. Tonya Love says:

    FYI.. I posted my response, not your actual blog. I did post a link to this, though. http://tdlove.wordpress.com/

    Thanks again.

  4. Millard says:

    Ola! Nicole,
    Thanks you for your post, Insightful publish. Thats priceless perusing we can all find out from. Thank you

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