Most serious runners hate treadmills. If you train enough miles per week that you actually call yourself a runner, most often you don’t want to be stuck inside running in place while looking at the wall. However, many people simply use running as a form of exercise and to control their weight and improve cardiovascular health. They aren’t in training for the New York City Marathon. For these people who aren’t running 60 to 100 miles per week, a treadmill can be an excellent place to get in their daily run. In addition, a treadmill can even be very useful for those serious runners who actually are in training for big races.

The Disadvantages of Running on a Treadmill

Most of the disadvantages of treadmill running primarily affect competitive runners who train for races. If you are a serious runner who often runs 5 to 10 or even more miles daily, the most significant potential drawback to running on a treadmill is that it can cause overuse injuries that wouldn’t be experienced when running outside on the streets, sidewalks and trails. When running outside, you typically traverse different terrain over the course of the run rather than keeping the same gait at the same angles and thus exerting the exact same pressures on the muscles and joints over the course of the entire run. This can result in injuries over time.

In addition, treadmill running never produces quite the same training effects as running outside on roads or trails. Running on a surface that is moving on its own beneath your feet just never produces the same stresses on the muscles involved in running and thus never quite prepares you for racing on an outside course. It beats not running at all, but if you are hoping for your best race day performance you will have to get outside to do at least some of your running.

Both of these disadvantages can be overcome slightly by changing the incline and speed of the treadmill, but the experience just never quite duplicates running outside. Many treadmills come programmed with different types of workouts such as hill training, interval workouts and there are even treadmills that can be programmed to duplicate the terrain of real outside courses, but once again this is never the same as the real experience.

There is another, less measurable, way in which treadmill running doesn’t duplicate running outside. If you enjoy the mental benefits of the sights and sounds of running outside, being stuck inside on a treadmill is going to be miserable. Yes, you can watch television or listen to music, but it isn’t quite the same.

The Advantages of Running on a Treadmill

Running is, hands down, just about the most effective method available for losing weight and building cardiovascular fitness. However, in order to be effective at achieving those goals, a running program must be consistent. Many people, particular those with both families and busy careers, have hectic and unpredictable schedules. In addition, many people live in areas where running outside at certain times is either miserable or dangerous due to weather conditions.  Running inside on a treadmill is an easy way to get around those problems.

Treadmills have reached the point where most people can actually afford to have one in their home.  People with unpredictable schedules can run at any time of the day or night without having to worry about measuring off a course, enduring harsh weather or worrying about not being seen by distracted drivers in the dark. All they have to do is hop on the treadmill at any time of the day or night for a convenient safe run. ,

If the temperature outside is below zero and windy, there is no need to have to bundle up and worry about frostbite. If the kids are sick and you can’t leave them alone, you can get your run in without leaving their side. Having a treadmill can help avoid almost all the traps that ruin your consistency in maintaining your running program. The treadmill is always there and ready for a run that fits into your schedule.

In addition, running on a treadmill makes it easy to keep up with your running and to vary your training. A treadmill tells you how fast you are going and how far you have gone. In addition, many treadmills come with built in heart rate monitors so you can know exactly whether you are staying in the “training zone” or not. You can also vary the incline and the speed to increase the training effect of the run. This is perfect for helping the average person, who is simply trying to lose a little weight and stay in shape, keep up their training consistency.  All in all, treadmill running is almost perfect for the average person training for fitness and health.

Treadmill running is useful to some degree for every type of runner, from those just wanting to get fit up to those who race competitively. After all, nothing works more effectively to build a runner’s fitness than simply training consistently. The more serious and the competitive a runner you are, the more time you will have to spend running outside, but if you are running for health and fitness, the advantages of the treadmill far outweigh the disadvantages.

Added: Craig Payne