Treadmill running vs. running outdoors. What are the differences?
It’s winter in New Jersey and many runners have gone indoors for now. Have you ever wondered what the difference is when comparing treadmill running to running outdoors?
I always imagined that treadmill running is like running with a partner who pushes you. It can also be quite boring compared to running outside with changing scenery and the stimulus of what surrounds you. Running outdoors is far more interesting and immersive.
The impact of running on different surfaces can be quite different as well compared to a treadmill which can be quite stiff.
While we can simulate hills and pavement resistance with the elevation function on the treadmill, the experience is distinctly different.
A recent article from Outside magazine looks at the physiology of running on a treadmill but it is likely the experience and how we feel about it which offers the largest differences for many of us.
Check out the article below
How Treadmill Running Differs from Running Outside
Yes, the physiology and biomechanics of treadmill running are a little different. But how you feel about it is probably more important.
by Alex Hutchinson
The second-biggest question about treadmills (besides whether an airplane could take off from one) is how well they approximate the experience of running outdoors. Some runners swear it’s easier to click off the miles on a moving rubber belt, for reasons including the lack of air resistance and the somewhat bizarre idea that you can just hop up and down while the belt whizzes by underneath you. Others, equally adamant, claim that treadmill miles are actually harder, perhaps because they’re stabbing themselves in the face with a fork to relieve the boredom.
A systematic review published in 2019 in the journal Sports Medicine, from an international team of researchers led by Joel Fuller of Macquarie University in Australia, tries to resolve the debate by pooling the results of 34 different studies with a total of 468 participants in which treadmill and what researchers call “overground” running were compared. The bird’s-eye view of the results is that running is running. There’s no secret trick to treadmill running that allows you to spend half the energy you’d spend at the same pace outdoors—and if it feels like that’s the case, it probably means that your treadmill belt is miscalibrated (which is not at all uncommon).