Running on the treadmill vs outdoors

20140626-050251-18171316.jpgSince my injury last fall while doing a fast run on the treadmill, I’ve kept away. Truth is, even before that ill-timed and mostly self-inflicted disaster, I disliked running on the treadmill and had a number of reasons lined up for the unsuspecting victim who would dare to ask why. It’s funny or rather foolish how we can convince ourselves of mostly anything when we make up our minds to dislike something; sometimes with no just cause or it could be that we hold preconceived or even stereotypical notions about that said thing. In fact, I had no basis for my dislike of the treadmill other than my preference for outdoors, and that, I felt it was boring and for non-serious runners.

Then I fell victim to a strained ankle, which I got on the treadmill due to running in the wrong shoes. I couldn’t be angrier. I knew better. Hadn’t I told myself I detested this machine..how could I be so stupid. I berated myself as if the dumb machine was at fault here and not me and my last-minute, stupid decision. Seemed I got more ammo to solidify my view of treadmills and that was fine by me. But I couldn’t stay away from the gym as I had to train for a marathon and it was still winter, so after one month, I was back. The evil monster looked at me and seemed to smile as I approached it with trepidation. The long and short of it being, I had to get back on there pretty fast as there was no stopping what had to be done. There were subsequent races thereafter, leading up to the current World Cup, and so the treadmill and I made up and while we’re not running buddies or anything, we see each other pretty often.

Here’s what I now know to be true of treadmill running:
– it is a good substitute for outdoor running when temperatures are extreme.
– it provides good simulation for race practice with the use of incline and speed adjustments as well various course running options.
– it’s pretty safe ( yes, despite my self-inflicted injury) and pretty boring as I initially thought.; no hurdles to cross or variance in terrain, which I expect is a good thing for most but the view sucks.
– you can practice proper breathing and hydration without stopping or slowing down your pace.
– machines give you heart, calorie and mileage information, which could act to provide momentum for your running.
– on the other hand, you cannot learn pace on a treadmill. It’s easy to get locked into the set pace and forget about maintaining pace to suit your race goal. Also, it’s impossible to find and maintain your own pace, which is important for long races such as a half or full marathon where running a negative split becomes important.
– but, and this is to the gym’s credit, you get to run while viewing your favorite programs on your personal TV and the big screen, or like me these days, watch multiple World Cup games while getting your run on. Now that, just can’t be beat!

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