Many runners ask this question, both beginners and experienced runners. Obviously, treadmills are really popular in bad weather or when it’s dark outside, but is the effect on your training as big as running in the fresh air? What truth lies behind the rumour that frequent running on a treadmill leads to knee problems? We’ll explain the advantages and disadvantages of training on a treadmill!  

Arguments against running on a treadmill:

  • The running motion is very monotonous since the muscles and coordination can only be trained unilateraly.
  • The relationship between rolling and the impression of the feet is different compared to running outdoors, as it’s the rolling track that moves. Therefore the foot imprint is no longer necessary for the forward motion (running shoes with a smooth as possible profile are much better than heavily profiled soles).
  • Higher speeds cannot be achieved with longer strides but only by going faster.
  • The fresh air and weather are missing. The immune system gets “bored” while training indoors and cool air flow doesn’t exist (we recommend wearing functional clothing, which wick your sweat away from your body quickly, e.g. Asics Motion Dry).
  • You don’t get any natural sunlight (provided you run during the day) so our skin produces less Vitamin D or the “feel good hormone”.
  • The “running route” is definitely not as fun as running in nature, unless your gym looks like this:
Running outside
Enjoy the fresh air, sun and different surfaces

Arguments for running on a treadmill:

  • Independence from the weather and light. But let’s be honest, is that really an excuse...?!
  • It only ever goes forward, but on professional machines it’s possible to create an incline, which might not be possible in your local park (and we are spared from the joint onerous downhill phase).
  • It’s possible to have control over speed and heart rate, which an effective training session guarantees. That’s only possible outdoors with the use of heart rate watches.
  • Treadmills protect your joints and tendons thanks to their cushioning  (as long as your running technique is suited to this surface).
  • The missing distraction of a changing environment strengthens your mental staying power. Bring on the next marathon!
 

Our conclusion:

Nothing is better or worse, there’s just an alternative. Although running on a treadmill can be controlled well – tempo training and interval training are possible – and is definitely a good supplement, it can never replace running outdoors.