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The debate over whether it’s better to run outside or on a treadmill is one that will probably never end. Some people like the comfort and convenience of using a treadmill indoors for their daily run, while others insist that it’s a poor substitute for running outside. Whether or not one option is “better” than the other is really a matter of opinion that varies based on what someone wants to get out of their run, but each has its pros and cons.

Running Outside

Those who would rather run outside might tell you that they enjoy the fresh air and scenery that comes from being outdoors, or they might insist that seeing the distance that you’ve covered during your run is more satisfying than looking at numbers on a machine. Those are definitely some strong arguments for running outside. Others include not needing a gym membership to make a daily run, and being able to train for specific runs that require you to run on hilly terrain.

As for the downsides of running outside, the most obvious is that you’re at the mercy of the weather. A rainy day could mean missing out on your run for the day, as can an exceptionally hold or cold day. You may also need to contend with rough terrain. Yes, we included that as a positive if you’re training for a run across such terrain, but running across smooth and level ground is still much easier and reduces your chances of injury.

Running on a Treadmill

The biggest advantage that treadmills have over the outdoors is that you can run on them at any time. You don’t need to wait for bad weather to clear up, and you can run late at night when it might be too dark to run outside safely. You will also always be running on level ground, so there won’t be many chances of stepping in a pothole and turning your ankle.

The negatives of running on a treadmill include missing out on the scenery and fresh air that you experience when you step outside. This can make running on a treadmill boring unless you happen to be listening to music or you have the TV on. You also won’t learn how to properly pace yourself if you can’t actually see how far you’re running. You may be told how much distance you’re covering on the treadmill’s display, but that’s not the same thing as seeing the stretch of road that you covered behind you.

The treadmill/outdoor running debate is one that will probably never be properly resolved. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each option, so nobody can say that one is “better” than the other. As with most things, it’s best to use both options at different times.

Run outside when you can, but don’t forget that you have access to a treadmill if you need it.