Treading Lightly

October 26, 2010

One of the major perks of living at a nice apartment community is the workout facility.

Billy and I had a 4-mile training run on the schedule yesterday.  I was up at the crack of dawn and it was still dark outside.  I didn’t want to navigate a new running route in the dark so I headed upstairs to the gym in our building.

(I took these photos on my Sunday stroll when it was nice and bright outside.)

Until yesterday, I hadn’t run on a treadmill since July.  While my inclination is to DREAD the TREAD, this 4-mile run whizzed by in no time at all.  I actually loved it.

That’s not to say I’m planning to make it a habit because my heart belongs to the great outdoors, but it’s nice to know that during our training for the next 6 weeks, I can utilize these facilities for running and weight training.  So bring on the dark mornings or crappy weather because I have a super convenient alternate plan!

Billy ran on the treadmill yesterday evening as it was almost 90 degrees outside.  Ewww.  I’m ready for some cooler temps.  He completed 4 miles as well and then told me that was the farthest he’s ever run!  Ever!  I’m so proud of him.  Just add 9.1 miles and we’ll be good to go for the White Rock Half Marathon December 5th. 😉

I decided to do some *online reading about running on a treadmill vs. running outdoors.  As a new runner, I’m still learning a lot but I concluded the following:

Running outdoors:

  • demands more from your body due to weather conditions, wind resistance and varied terrain
  • expends more energy than you would running the same pace on a treadmill
  • helps maintain muscle memory
  • offers visual stimulation and endless different routes
  • actually gets you somewhere (I know people who literally RUN their errands)


  • are a great alternative when outdoor conditions are too dangerous
  • provide high quality speed workouts
  • are convenient for bathroom breaks, fueling and hydrating (although I know a lot of runners who have this down to a science for outdoor running)
  • allow you to keep a consistent pace (no stop signs, red lights, etc)
  • allow you to control your incline

Almost 50 million people in the U.S. use a treadmill (as of August 2009).

There are cases of Olympic athletes who solely trained on a treadmill…and won!

The bottom line: A combination of outdoor runs and treadmill runs is a great way to train for a race.  A little variety keeps your training plan interesting.  It is important, however, to be familiar with the outdoor conditions of your specific race location.

*(source 1) (source 2) (source 3)

Running can be dangerous in any circumstance so please be careful!

A recent example: Hillary, my friend and accomplished runner from Nutrition Nut on the Run, had a treadmill accident last week because someone at her gym carelessly left a machine running when it wasn’t in use.  She had to get stitches on her face – ouch!  She’s a total trooper.  A running warrior, perhaps?  :)

Do you prefer indoor workouts or outdoor workouts?

Can you add anything to my lists from your own running experience?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather (Heather's Dish) October 26, 2010 at 9:48 am

you know, i used to do only treadmill all the time…but since we don’t have enough money to join an gym and have tons of trails close by (along with workout DVDs for the cold snowy days) i don’t really miss it!
Heather (Heather’s Dish) recently posted..Butter-Inspired


dorrybird October 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm

It would be hard to stay indoors on a pretty day in Colorado! There’s too much beauty to be seen outside. :)


Marci October 26, 2010 at 10:30 am

I used to be 90% treadmill, especially in the heat that Houston gets 70% of the year. But I ran two 10Ks last February and May training mostly on treadmill with a few outdoor runs and my legs had bad pains during the outdoor races. So for the Dallas Half, I’m trying for mostly outdoor with minimal treadmill. I used to like the treadmill a lot, but now it feels different and I prefer outside, except when it’s 90 in late October! You know it’s worse in Houston than Dallas!
But it is nice to have air blowing on your face and a place for water, cell phone, to watch tv, etc. on the ‘mill.
Do you live in Uptown now? I’m trying to decipher from your pics! Looks like State Thomas area to me and I recognize the Bed Bath location.
Marci recently posted..So Much Pumpkin


lindsay October 26, 2010 at 11:14 am

I love the treadmill for speed work! Its fun for me. But after 5 miles it can get boring. THe longest I’ve run on a treadmill is 12 and that was 7 miles too long, haha.


dorrybird October 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Haha – 12 is a lot! I think I could go 5 or 6 but then I’d have to get outside. :)


Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun October 26, 2010 at 11:37 am

I know when I start giving running a shot after this pregnancy the treadmill will be a friend until I am more comfortable. I certainly see its benefits.
Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun recently posted..roll me home


dorrybird October 26, 2010 at 9:35 pm

My sister (stay at home mom of 2) loves the treadmill. It’s efficient. :)


Nichole October 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Look at your research, good stuff! It’s so important to do both. The treadmill was my bestie for Speedwork (I knew I was consistent) and it was great on my feet, since it’s a bit softer. However, running outside taught me how to apply my “gym legs” to the real world. Plus way better views.

You’re so right, there are good things to each!
Nichole recently posted..Breakfast of Champions


dorrybird October 26, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I think it’s awesome to have an option. It will come in handy on rainy days. But I love actually going somewhere on a run. Like you said, so much to see outdoors!


Kristina @ spabettie October 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I love my treadmill… only because I cannot run in pouring rain OR heat… and by heat I really mean anything over 75… I know, I am a WIMP. 😉

I LOVE to run outdoors… and I love my treadmill for many of the reasons you mentioned – especially incline! LOVE the incline!

That is so awesome you have this available to you… I sometimes miss my gym membership and have been thinking of renewing…
Kristina @ spabettie recently posted..goat cheese corn muffins


dorrybird October 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I don’t blame you and I don’t think you’re a wimp. :)

My issue with running in the rain is the wet shoes – how does one remedy soaking wet running shoes?

I love the incline, too. Good for the bum. :)


Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul October 26, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I was a treadmill junkie for a very long time due to the convenience – stable temperature, no worries about wind/rain, not liking to try new routes alone as a female in a different cities. But this summer in training for Baltimore I decided to stick to outdoor running (except for maybe 5 or so times when it was raining, etc.) and do feel that it made a huge difference in my running fitness. I think that any means of getting movement into your life is a good one though, so I get frustrated when I hear people who reject one or the other completely.
Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul recently posted..Today’s Nourishment – Lovin’ What I See


dorrybird October 26, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Love what you said about any means of getting movement. That’s the real key here!


Heather @ Dietitian on the Run October 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Definitely prefer the outdoors, but I’m glad you guys have an alternative so you can still get your RUN on when the weather doesn’t cooperate! :) One half-marathon I trained doing a mix of gym/outdoors, doing 2 runs (speed work, easy) per week on the treadmill. I loved using the pace-control feature of the treadmill for repeats/intervals & tempo! But needed outside for the LRs so I knew that, come race day, I was ready for the distance :)
Heather @ Dietitian on the Run recently posted..Tuesday Trial: The Manduka Mat


dorrybird October 26, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I’m with you on all of that! Some runs are great on the treadmill, the long runs need to be outside. I’m tempted to go to a proper track with Billy for repeats/intervals – I think it would be fun and remind me of 7th grade. :)


Candice @ ChiaSeedMe October 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I like to mix it up! Lately I’ve really been enjoying the treadmill more…not sure why. There aren’t many other runners in our area, and I think it encourages me to see other people working out. Plus I always make it a contest with other people on the ‘mills. They don’t know it of course, but that’s okay:)

And I totally agree about the heat. It’s not even that hot here, but I am so ready for “jeans and sweater” weather!
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Lisa @ I'm an Okie October 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm

what a lovely gym you have access to! VERY NICE! :)

I prefer–actually, I guess just depends on my day! sometimes running outside sounds horrible, other times its all I want to do.
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Camille October 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I definitely prefer outdoor workouts, no matter what the weather is like. I get sooo bored on the cardio machines!
Camille recently posted..Dont Hate Hater


Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] October 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Hi Love. Thank for the shout-out. Although, I still remain true to using a treadmill for training when needed, people should be aware of the consequences of irresponsible gym goers and accidents that can arise indoors. Thanks again for passing this on. Stitches got snipped today! :)
Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] recently posted..Autumn Apple Flax Bread


Lauren October 26, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Cute title 😉
That is quite a nice little gym y’all got there! I am like you, I really dislike in-door cardio. But its been raining here in Davis more, so I just got onto the treadmill this week for the first time in, what, years? Not literally, but almost. It wasnt so bad! Not gonna lie… I started off at 5 minutes. But yesterday I did 40! It is still nowhere near as enjoyable as the great outdoors, but its different?
Lauren recently posted..Its raining in my room.


Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine October 27, 2010 at 6:53 am

Last year I trained on a treadmill almost exclusively for my half, and I regretted it on the big day. It’s way harder to factor in hills and such…plus, the treadmill keeps you going at a faster pace whether you like it or not, while running YOU have to provide the drive. I’m not saying they can’t still be a great tool, because I do still use them sometimes, but definitely prefer the outdoors!!
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