Whether you prefer running indoors or outdoors, there are some major benefits of running on a treadmill. Understanding how to use the benefits of treadmill running to your advantage can greatly improve any regular running routine! I’m here to not only let you in on why treadmills are so important, but also to give you some sound advice for making your running routine more fun, safe, and effective!
Benefits of Running on the Treadmill
1. Shock Absorption
What many runners may not realize is the numerous surfaces you run on have varying levels of shock absorption. Softer surfaces typically create more shock absorption and are easier on your body - joints, muscles, ligaments, and bone. Not all surfaces were created equal.
Asphalt (or black top) is much easier on the joints than the lighter cement of the sidewalks. But even then, grass, track, or dirt surfaces will be even kinder than asphalt. Finally, treadmills are designed with built-in shock absorption technology - a surface specifically designed for running.
2. Surface Predictability
With a treadmill you get the predictability of your surface that outdoor running doesn’t allow. When you’re outdoors there’s elements which you just can’t predict - hopping over a curb, dodging some dog poop, or perhaps passing another person on the path. Often outdoor running requires adaptation, and often that adaptation means lateral (side to side) movement.
If you’re someone recovering from an injury, running amongst uneven surfaces and performing unpredictable lateral movements is less than ideal if presented into recovery training too soon. This is where the predictability of a treadmill can come as an advantage.
If you’re a runner who participates in local 5K’s or anything outdoors, it’s good to practice running on uneven surfaces so you’re prepared for those challenges come race day. For this reason, I wouldn’t suggest running on a treadmill everyday unless you have an injury. However, having the option a few times a week to run on a softer surface can benefit any runner’s program.
3. Environmental Stress
There are a few factors that come into play when I think of environmental stress during outdoor running vs running on treadmills. Sun damage is a big one, and now that knowledge of skin cancer is becoming more widespread - concern for skin health is increasing. Which is great! One of the biggest ways to take better care of your skin is minimizing your time in the sun. Running indoors on a treadmill takes away that concern of skin damage.
Another environmental factor that can greatly impact a runner’s workout is air quality. Depending on where you live, some may experience this more than others. But here in Southern California, with our frequency of fires and smog combined, our air quality is often deemed unsafe. Making use of a treadmill on these days is important as you’ll be breathing in clean, filtered air without risk.
Finally, many people don’t realize that on colder days car exhaust hovers lower to the ground for longer than on warmer days. It’s funny because as a runner myself I always get excited about those cooler days, a little easier on the body, and maybe I don’t have to wake up as early to beat the heat. If you live in a crowded city, or run on main streets it’s important to take into account car exhaust, as we don’t want to be inhaling these fumes. On colder days, stay indoors and put your treadmill to use!
Finally, running on a treadmill is incredibly efficient! As fun as it sounds, most of us are just too busy for a two-hour running exploration. If you’re a busy person - with friends, family, and work keeping you going - a treadmill is an incredibly time efficient option that’s predictable and reliable. Get your workout in quick and don’t miss a beat!
As you can see treadmill’s can provide a serious advantage to any running routine. Life, weather, and conditions are unpredictable, but with access to a treadmill it’s easy to stay on track.