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How Does Running Outside Compare To A Treadmill?

By Posted on 6 2 m read


I have always been a runner and I am a very highly certified track and field coach in Canada as well as a Personal Trainer. I work with beginner to advanced runners, sprinters and hurdlers. I am constantly teaching my athletes and personal training clients about running efficiency, economy and form. One of the most frequent questions that I get asked is, “Does running the same distance on a treadmill equal the same thing as running outdoors?”

The answer is no. It does not become the equivalent. You’re much better off hitting the streets, trails or track than you are running on a treadmill. This is because you are running against the elements which include wind and terrain when you run outdoors. This causes you to use more of your muscles including intrinsic and smaller muscle groups to keep your balance, give you power and keep your form. In turn this also causes you to burn more calories than if you were on the treadmill.

I also advise my clients that if they are unable to run outside or if the weather isn’t optimal that they should do interval training known as HIIT on the treadmill. We all know how boring a treadmill can be so spice it up with high intensity interval training.

treadmill-karen-civilThe following is one of my favorite interval workouts for the treadmill. It will blast fat, give you a great workout and its not repetitive like steady state running is. Its challenging but fun. Give it a try.

Train It Right’s Treadmill Interval Workout:

Remember you control the speed so choose speeds that challenges you but that you are comfortable with.

Walk Briskly 3 minutes

Run 1 minutes

Incline 2.5

Walk Briskly 4 minutes

Run 2 minutes

Incline 3

Walk Briskly 5 minutes

Run 3 minutes

Incline 3.5

Walk Briskly 6 minutes

Run 4 minutes

Incline 4

Walk Briskly 7 minutes

Run 5 minutes

Incline 4.5

Walk Briskly 8 minutes

Run 6 minutes

Incline 5

Walk Briskly 5 minutes

TOTAL: 45 minutes


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