As “hard-core” (or whatever the right word is) runners, we keep telling ourselves that we cannot run on the treadmill. The treadmill is boring; it doesn’t mimic outdoor running – i.e. weather, incline, etc; it will not prepare you well for race conditions and more. However, I am here to tell you that it is okay to run on the treadmill. Not all the time if you’re training for an outdoor race and especially if you’re gunning for a time goal but it is okay more often than not.
Yesterday, I was signed up for the NYCRuns 10-miler in Central Park. I was going to run a 2 mile warm up and then 2 miles afterwards to cool down to wrap up a long run of 14 miles. I went to bed on Saturday night with my bags packed and clothes all laid out for the morning. I woke up at 5:30AM ready to conquer the run and followed my morning ritual – breakfast, coffee, and pump. However, as I sat here in the morning, I became more and skeptical about whether it would be worth the trip out to the city for the race. The temperatures were frigid in the single digits with wind chill much colder and with the snow from the day before, the roads outside my window looked very slippery. Ultimately, I decided to not venture in for the race and instead run the miles on the treadmill. (Side note – NYCRuns did not send an update or post on social media about whether the race would continue as planned and the conditions in Central Park until 3 hours after the start of the race.)
This list is by no means my justification for skipping the race but as I kept thinking more and more about the benefits of freezing my butt off in perhaps slippery conditions, I realized that at the end I chose the safer bet and still managed to get my run in. A win-win given the situation. So with that, here are a handful of reasons why it is okay to run on the treadmill.
—Weather and/or are perhaps dangerous. For example, frigid or extremely hot temperatures, slippery roads, lightning (Disney cancelling the half marathon this weekend is a perfect example), hurricane, and more.
—Weather conditions are not ideal and your race locale temperatures mimic indoor running. If you’re training in the winter for a race in a warmer climate and the conditions outdoors are not ideal, then it’s an even better reason to run indoors. In my case, I’m training for a race in Los Angeles in March which will be much warmer than single digits. I opted to wear my race day attire for the long run yesterday so I can feel confident that everything will be comfortable.
—Too early or too late for an outdoor run. For most people it is tough with schedules to fit in runs in daylight especially now that it gets dark so early and the sun rises so late. It’s always best to opt for safety especially if you don’t have a friend or group to run with.
—Time constraints. We’re all guilty of having back to back plans especially on the weekends and if running on a treadmill means fitting in the run and being able to make it to your other plans, then by all means, running on the treadmill is better than not running at all.
—Skipping a run is worst. Would you rather have the endorphins or not?!? In a perfect world, I’d ask for 50 degree and sunny and light wind conditions every morning with no other plans until later in the day so I can fit in all of my runs outside, but it’s a not a perfect world so I’d rather find a way to run than not.
I fully acknowledge that training for a road race solely on a treadmill would be tough and as a runner, you need to be ready to run in all weather conditions as you never know what you’re going to get on race day. However, the flip side is that it is okay to run on the treadmill if safety and not skipping a run is more important.
How do you feel about running on the treadmill?