I know: I've already complained. Some people are treadmill people and some people are outdoors people, and rarely the twain shall meet. Still, when the treadmills at my gym both broke at once and I was forced outdoors, I had some good experiences - and some not-so-good ones. I decided, if only for my own personal amusement, that it might be worthwhile to quantify what I liked and didn't like about both experiences, perhaps in the interest of improving both. So here goes.
Hills, dips, grass, and other terrain changes. They work different muscles; they prep me for actual races, which tend to occur outdoors, of all places. But they make runs seem INTERMINABLE sometimes. I'll be tired and I'll hit a hill and I'll walk because HILLS and I'm TIRED. Oh, and the asphalt of paved roads and sidewalks can make my bones sad.
Scenery. I must admit - the changing scenery is nice. It's pleasantly distracting, propelling yourself forward to new places. Sometimes I take a different turn, just to find out what's up. And sometimes I meet a friend!
Resources and supply storage. If I am five miles from my apartment, I am five miles from a bathroom. Unless I want to knock on the door of some poor unsuspecting person in the residential neighborhoods where I run, which I do NOT. Also, I hate carrying my water bottle and I have nowhere to refill it when it runs out. I am deeply suspicious of fuel belts. And we haven't even talked about food.
Late nights and early mornings. These are dark. The Bethesda Trolley Trail where I like to concentrate most of my mileage is not lit, and I can't get to portions of my route without running through it. This, obviously, is not safe for a variety of reasons. Which means that if I'm trying to run early in the morning or as night falls, there is a certain point in the course that I'll have to stick to lit neighborhoods. And even then running at 3AM would not my best idea.
|Welcome to 7:45PM.|
Pacing. I set my own pace, which is great because it lets me find a comfortable rhythm, makes it easier to walk for short stretches or do run/walk intervals, and helps me push myself for once, all good practice for races. But sometimes I'm not very good at pushing...
Timing and mileage. I won't have a GPS watch yet and MapMyRun is notoriously unreliable. :( Of course, I also don't have a display to stare at and get demoralized. Oh, and unlike my treadmill, the outdoors don't turn themselves off every 99 minutes.
No terrain changes. If I'm being honest with myself, this is no good for purposes of really, REALLY preparing for a race. But it's so lovely to settle into a rhythm, sweet and clear and forward-moving without fear of losing momentum because a stupid hill has popped up. Plus the treadmill is much softer and less bothersome to my bones. And besides, runDisney races tend to be pretty flat!
|The time of the treadmill is happy. (Only Moon will get that joke.)|
The surrounding population. I don't know why, but in the tiny basement gym of my apartment complex, I get weirdly self-conscious when someone else comes in to work out. An empty gym is a wonderful blessing, and a gym full of people makes me feel awkward. I know, logically, that no one is watching me and judging my form and thinking about how much faster they can run... but I can't help but feel that they're all watching me and judging my form and thinking about how much faster they can run.
Resources and supply storage. Lord, I do wish that the gym had a bathroom. Barring that, though, my apartment is a two minute walk away. Plus the treadmill has all sorts of slots to hold my stuff. When I ran twenty miles on the treadmill a few weeks ago, I got it all set up for myself - iPod and phone balanced on the display, water bottle in one alcove, Shot Bloks in the other, auxiliary water bottle on the unused elliptical machine next to me, ready to top me off. I didn't have to carry a darned thing.
Late nights and early mornings. Are great times to work out. I'm a total night owl, and the gym is 24/7. On those rare occasions I need to get up early instead, sunrise times don't matter. Heck, an eclipse would be fine too. Lights on, door locked, ALL THE TIME SAFETY!
Weather. BRING IT ON.
Pacing. Run/walk ratios are a pain on the treadmill, and for whatever reason it's harder for me to start running after a walk break on a treadmill. Yet setting a speed, sometimes outside of my comfort zone even, helps me push myself harder and farther than I've ever been able to under my own power.
Timing and mileage. Precision! Exactitude! A display that I, like everyone else on earth, sometimes find myself staring at with a dawning realization of horror that I am taking my first steps toward infinity!
I don't really have one. I like the treadmill, but outdoor running has its merits. Maybe it would be more fun with a running buddy. Things to ponder...
What are your thoughts on the outdoors vs. treadmill debate? Do you having anything to add to my praise/complaints? Anything I forgot?
Don't forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn's dailymile here and Moon's dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya real soon!