Running indoors vs. outdoors, which is better?

Running

I run about 3 miles, 3 times a week. I enjoy it, but there is definitely a mental ramp up and inner pep-rally that goes on prior to my initiating my run. Part of this ritual includes the question: "Do I run inside or out?" Most of my impending decision is predicated purely on mood...bits of it might be dependent on weather. Regardless, there are definite pros and cons to both. I have to believe that a lot of others go through this same internal interrogation, so I thought I'd lay out my personal 'analysis'.

Indoors on a Treadmill:
Pros:

  • Physically Easier. The treadmill belt pulls your feet back underneath your body, requiring less Energy to propel yourself forward. This also means you may not be exercising to your full capacity, keeping your Heart Rate lower than it could be.
  • Climate and Safety Control. Don't have to brave the elements, or for that matter kids, dogs, bicyclists or rollerbladers.
  • Lower Impact. It is easier on my joints compared to outside.
  • Progress Tracking. I enjoy tracking my progress and pushing myself harder while on the treadmill. I can easily do circuit training, by understanding just how fast or how slow I'm going.
  • Two Birds w/ One Stone. I get to catch up on the news while exercising.

Cons:

  • Wimpy Workout. Because the treadmill is easier, I may not get as much out of my workout.
  • Boring. No change in scenery to distract you from what you are doing.


Running Outside:

Pros:

  • It is Green. Yep...no energy other than your own is required to get you moving...making it an eco-friendly workout.
  • 'No-excuses' Workout. You can't stop early (you have to get back to where you started from) and you have to work hard.
  • Distractions Galore. There are lots of things to distract you: people watching, scenery, etc.
  • Fresh Air. You get some out and about, fresh O2.

Cons:

  • It wares at your joints. Yes, I'm starting to get old...
  • Obstacles. It is more likely that I will have a collision with another animate or moving object, as compared to running indoors.
  • Braving the Elements. Unpredictable hail, tornadoes, and even UV Indexes can take a toll.

Now all of this said, I actually think alternating between BOTH are good. You use different sets of muscles when you run inside as compared to when you run outside. As a result, you are diversifying your workouts, maximizing your results!

Do you prefer in or out?

Related Topics:
Benefits of Cardiovascular training
Calories burned during various types of exercise
Exercise Intensity and your Target Heart Rate Zone
Finding your Target Heart rate
Dangers of Exercising Outdoors