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Should You Run on A Treadmill?

8 mins read

Treadmills are a common go-to fitness machine in any gym. For strength athletes, it’s a great way to slot in some cardio after training and for others, it’s a means of clocking in their cardio. But are treadmills effective?

Well, there is no definitive answer to that, some prefer more race-like conditions thus an outdoor run is preferred, while others who want to just burn the calories without the scorching sun would find that the treadmill fits them just right.

However, here’s how we weigh it.

Pros

Running on the treadmill is a great way of clocking in the weekly cardio requirements. On the treadmill, the speed is limited to what you set it and it creates an extra barrier to prevent the user from giving up too fast.

If you want to run a certain distance under a certain speed you can adjust the speed of the treadmill accordingly and you would be able to hit your goals. So, training with a treadmill would help your body to acclimatise to a certain speed and if you are a beginner the treadmill would be helpful as well.

Elevation

If you want to be running uphill consistently at the same elevation for more than 1km, a treadmill is your option. Cause firstly you would not be able to find such a long hill in Singapore, with the same elevation throughout. If you do find such a hill, do let us know, we would love to give it a look.

Controlled Environment

Sometimes work or pleasure may take you to a colder country. If you are an outdoor runner, running in the cold is way different from our tropical weather here in sunny Singapore. You would require time to get used to the drop-in temperature, difficulty in breathing and a drier mouth. In cases like that, just use the local gym or hotel treadmill if you need to get some cardio done.

Convenience

Having the option to run and immediately do strength training afterwards is a plus, having it at home and it’s a thunderstorm outside? You betcha’ or you haven’t got the liberty to head down because of COVID restrictions? You got it.

Due to our hectic lives, it would be better for some to quickly get in a workout without living the house.

Cons

A treadmill will never mimic race like outdoor conditions, that means changes in terrain and wind resistance, surrounding heat (if it’s an indoor gym).

Wind resistance

A windy day is best for a walk, but not a run. The constant fight against the wind is a pain for every runner but running outdoors would train your mind and body to push even harder.

If there’s no wind, then you are just fighting air resistance but that is just part of running. If you are on a treadmill you won’t face any wind resistance, you could, however, change the elevation of the treadmill to one level above zero to increase the difficulty of your run.

The Elements

Usually, a treadmill would be placed in a controlled environment like a gym or your home, and that reduces the intricacies of mother nature. The wind, humidity, sunlight and temperature play a big part in the difficulty of your run.

The treadmill will not be able (at least for now), mimic the elements of the natural world which could actually be calming for some.

Elevation

Though I did mention that elevation is a reason to say yes to running on a treadmill, but the elevation patterns on a treadmill will never match conditions similar to your 5km,10km and other races in Singapore.

On a treadmill pre-installed patterns, you could be running at an elevation for more than 600meters and that will never happen in your standard chartered or sundown marathons.

With that said, it is the lack of a proper pattern in the terrain outside that matters to a runner which increases the difficulty and sensitises your mental preparedness.

Inaccurate Speeds & Timings

Running a 5km under 25 mins means that you have to clock a 5min/km pace which seems rather easy while you are on the treadmill. Instead, try replicating all of that with the added conditions of heat, the undulating terrain and wind resistance, and that 5min/km pace will most likely be slower.

Even on the treadmill, are your legs moving at the speed required to hit 5min/km? The answer to that is no.

Everyone is different, the amount of force they exert on the machine each time their foot hits the ground is different. Because of this force, it will cause the speed gauge to fluctuate and your pace may not necessarily be the same as what you see on the screen.

Better treadmills can give you more accurate speeds by taking into consideration the landing but not exact.

Mental Resilience

You just do not build much mental resilience to push through the pain while running on a treadmill. The treadmill does all the pushing for you, your mind is not trained to push your body when it can’t.

Thus, when it is time to kick it into overdrive during the last 500meters when you are running outdoors, you most likely would not be able to because the ground below your feet does not move automatically.

Another perspective to it is the stagnancy of running on a treadmill. Being on the same spot for 10,20 60min is a huge mental blockage.

Conclusion

The good old outdoors is my recommendation, as you do not have to pay for anything (well I mean that’s beside your taxes). Training will all the right conditions will make you more prepared than running on a treadmill.

Then again, if you are not a serious runner and just do it for the love of running or cardio then a treadmill is just as fine.

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