Are you wondering “is treadmill running bad for you?”
I posted a survey on my instagram and 55% said they loved the treadmill. The other 45% said they hated it.
Me? I’d always rather run outside. That said, now that I am back working full time and still trying to train for races, I see it as a valuable asset!
Let’s go over some of the pros and cons.
Pros of running on a treadmill
A great thing about the sport of running is that you can do it anywhere, anytime.
But, if you’re like me, you may want to avoid running alone in the dark, to stay out of cold/rain/wind, or you have kids and lack of childcare during the times you want to run.
The treadmill allows you to run in the safety of your own home or gym, and you can hop off to tend to your children if need be. You can also stay nice and cozy indoors.
We don’t have snow in Coastal North Carolina, but I ran a ton in the snow and slipped on ice when we lived in Alaska. Just another reason to hop on the tread!
Even when you can run outside, sometimes a treadmill can be preferable.
As an example, if you want to practice running at a specific goal pace before a race, you can take advantage of the treadmill helping you hold that steady pace so your body and mind get used to holding it.
The treadmill does the work for you so you don’t have to “watch check” obsessively; instead, you can relax and dissociate.
Many of the more advanced treadmills allow you to create your own unique course profile, which you can use to simulate the exact course you’re training for.
Need the Newton Hills for Boston marathon training? Check!
Treadmill running is effective
Some may disagree with this because they feel treadmill running is easier than running outdoors (I have always found it harder!). But treadmill running IS effective! In order to better mimic running outside, I would recommend playing with the incline and speeds throughout your run. Obviously when you run outside, it’s not going to be completely flat and you won’t always be running the exact same pace. Changing up the speed/incline also makes it a little less boring.
Easier on your joints
Running on a treadmill is easier on your joints and can prevent injuries. This is because the treadmill belt is smooth, cushioned, and more forgiving on joints.
Cons of running on a treadmill
Treadmills are boring
I don’t agree with this one. Treadmills is not as fun as running outside, and you don’t get all those beautiful views. However, as a busy mom, I love being able to use my treadmill time to catch up on shows/movies.
It makes the time go by quickly if I’m enthralled in a new series or movie (currently watching “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix).
I’ve also found that taking the Peloton treadmill classes are crucial to getting some hills in since I live at the beach and it’s flat as a pancake.
The instructors constantly have you changing up your incline and pace, so it’s entertaining and far from tedious.
But yes, if you get on a treadmill and just stare at a wall, it could be boring.
You don’t work as many muscles
When running outside, you rely on your hamstrings to finish your stride and lift your legs behind you.
On a treadmill, the movement of the belt does some of that work for you.
You use your quads to push off, but your hamstrings aren’t firing up as much as if you were outside.
If you only run on the treadmill, it’s just recommended that you also cross train to work the muscles on the back of your legs, specifically hamstring and glutes (which us runners should be doing anyway! Go back and read my post about why runners need to strength train).
Treadmill runners also need to move laterally. I like to encourage folks to do this in their warm up- think, lateral lunges, carioca, etc
Treadmills are expensive. There’s no way around it.
However, you can use treadmills at the gym (though maybe not as convenient) OR do a lot of research and try to purchase a used treadmill.
I purchased my treadmill six years ago and have found it to be a great investment! My entire family it and we eventually turned our entire garage into a home gym.
We are now saving money with not having to pay gym memberships.
If you want tips on purchasing a treadmill, I’ve got that for you right here.
Different ways to approach sourcing a treadmill? Right here.