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Treadmill vs. Outdoor Running

Fitness Insight by Jamie Atlas

Running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside or on a track

Here’s why:

If you would, think briefly as to how the belt beneath your feet works.

If you place a foot on a moving treadmill it gets thrown back along the line in which the treadmill is moving – the treadmill is moving your foot back, not the foot moving itself back…

I will resist the urge to place a video here of people falling off their treadmills (although it was extremely tempting).

As you walk/run on a treadmill, the main difference your body experiences is related to the moving belt beneath you feet.

A treadmill moves you in a different way than regular running

Thanks Jamie for helping me understand this.  I haven’t really run in so long it’s depressing.  I try to “test the waters” by running on a treadmill at the gym and as always, after a mile or two, my leg is throbbing.  Today, I decided to take it outside.  What a difference!!! My legs felt like they were free to move as they were suppose to move. I did not feel constrained by the sides of the treadmill and my leg thanked me for it.  It felt natural and it made me happy.  Then, I talked to my awesome cousin Claire who just completed her first 60K (she rocks!), and she mentioned that one of the reasons she was miraculously never injured was because she always ran outside and never had the time to over train.  I think Jamie and Claire are on to something.  Treadmill running has always been great because it allowed me to control my speed, but it has also always led to some sort of muscle imbalance. Running is a sport that is best enjoyed outdoors and I think from now on, I’ll take my test runs outside.

Phew – glad I finally figured that one out.

Happy Trails and Happy Running!


4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Emily #

    you’ll be back running soon! just like you tell me… there’s a reason for everything and you may not understand it now, but embrace the time you have for other projects and thoughts.

    “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

    love you my running inspiration!

    November 30, 2011
    • Thanks Em for your positive words – I think as long as I stick to the outdoors and with my ART, I should be good soon enough (at least by January in time to start training for Boston). This time has definitely given me a lot of time to write at least and read YOUR delicious recipes.

      When we are both back to normal, want to have a run date??

      December 1, 2011
  2. Alysha Totemwongs #

    Totally agree! I am an outdoor runner whenever I can be. Treadmills are for cold/ rainy days and runs under 5 miles! Coming from someone who recently sprained their ankle on a treadmill, I would definitely say that there is A LOT of imbalance!

    December 1, 2011
    • Yes Alysha I totally agree!!! I’m sticking to the outdoors from now on. How is your ankle?? Have you been able to do any running?

      When we are all back to normal we will have to go on a run date =)

      December 1, 2011

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