Running Challenge Week 6: Outside or Treadmill?

By Alexandra Caspero on February 7, 2013

Week 6 of our Running Challenge is here! Are you still with me?

Before we get chatting, let’s pause for a little motivation/inspiration.


Love that! Especially on days I don’t want to go anywhere.


And my other favorite. Bam! Why do you run? I run mostly for me time & mental clarity. (sometimes I run to enjoy more margarita’s)

Are we motivated yet?

Do you need more?


Today’s Topic: Outside or Treadmill?

Most of us, I am guessing, are going to say outside. Outside, especially on a nice day, doesn’t even feel like work. It’s just enjoying the scenery, fresh air, and pace of whatever you’ve got to give.
I’m pretty lucky in the fact that Northern California weather, for the most part, is almost always sunny. Except for a few days here and there, I can count on dry, sunny skies to accompany me. I do have to deal with 100+ days in the summer, but I also run at 6AM so it doesn’t impact me too much.

I’ll be honest. I dread the days I have to go indoors. Especially if I’ve been on a kick with good outdoor runs, then being indoors feels like beating my head against the wall as I eye every minute on the treadmill.

You too? Sometimes though, you just gotta do it. If it’s raining or miserably cold for a few weeks, we can’t stop. Upcoming races wait for no one. I’ve learned that multiple times with shin splits, stress fractures, and other injuries.

There are benefits to running indoors: It’s safer (I don’t run alone at night. I’ve watched enough law&order SVU  to know that), You can pace yourself better (nothing like having a moving belt underneath you for motivation to keep your speed up), you can vary the terrain (practicing for the SF marathon but live in the flat-as-dirt valley? Make some hills on the treadmill!)

So, while I prefer the outdoor space as much as possible, here are top-tips to making your indoor workout just as fun.

1. Put on your favorite show:  If you’re fortunate enough to have a treadmill near a TV, find a favorite show or channel and run to it! Most gyms use closed captioning so you can read the dialogue as you go along. You’d be amazed how mindless reality TV can be, to me it’s the perfect thing to run to. I am so much more concerned with their failing lives than how many miles I’ve completed.

2. Switch up the Tempo: Maintaining a constant speed can be a real buzz kill. Switch it up! Add time intervals, tempo changes, ect. to make it more fun. Plus! Intense interval training will burn more calories and get you done faster. If you’re new to training- try a few different time intervals. Push yourself for 60 seconds, recover and repeat. Not only will you get a more efficient workout, you’re also training your body to run faster.

3. Don’t change anything: I don’t get the people who are running so fast they have to lean on the railings/console just to stay on. How is this good for you? Seriously. I am so fascinated that they are a moment away from biting it and falling off.   Keep your normal stride, and maintain that good form that we’ve been working on!

4. Stimulate the outdoor experience: Why does running on a treadmill seem easier? Oh, that’s right- it is! The track propels you forward, so you have more momentum than being outside. Increase the incline to counteract this- 1-2% incline should do it!

5. ZONE out! Yes, you can zone out while you are outside, but you are more likely to be hit by a car, bike, or texter. When you’re on the treadmill, you’re safe. Zone out, think. Plan. Daydream about the weekend. No one will bother you or touch you. Enjoy the peace and just run.

What are your favorite tips for running either outside or on the treadmill?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Bridget
      February 16, 2013 AT 7:57 am

      Yes, I do love running outdoors, but running indoors on a track does the job as well. Treadmills makes me feel like a hamster haha…

      1. DK
        February 16, 2013 AT 12:34 pm

        Yes! I don’t have a track at my current gym but if I get the chance, I prefer that over the treadmill. Unless my show is on, then I could be on the treadmill for hours 🙂

    2. Deb
      February 7, 2013 AT 5:25 am

      I love the treadmill for running. I can be distracted with the TV/music and not notice how far I am pushing myself and I am a measurer so love to know how far and fast I have run. Also I do believe the comeptiton from the other gym goers gets me running faster too.

      1. DK
        February 7, 2013 AT 9:06 am

        Hi Deb- that’s a great point about being able to measure. I use Map My Run when I go outside, but I do like knowing my exact pace when I am on a treadmill. I also think that it’s easier for me to get started when I am indoors. Sometimes I have to pep myself up a LOT (with the help of a few cups of coffee) before braving the chilly morning temps outside.