5 Benefits of Treadmill Running For Outdoor Runners


It’s definitely that time of year again. That time of year when the treadmill becomes my best friend and I start writing up treadmill posts and workouts to share with you, encouraging you to embrace indoor running rather than despise it.

While running indoors will never be my first choice, I have learned how to get a great run accomplished and even appreciate running on the treadmill.

I will go as far to admit as well that running on the treadmill has made me a better runner overall and that treadmill running has its benefits for us outdoor runners.

5 benefits of treadmill running for outdoor runners

The Mental Part:

We always say that running is just as much mental as it is physical. Learning to push your way through challenging runs, tough workouts, bad runs and races is what helps to train you to be an even stronger runner. Running on the treadmill definitely takes mental toughness to a new level.

I am not really sure what it is but completing a treadmill run always feels like such an accomplishment, even more so than an outdoor run. The easy paces, fast paces, same paces that I run outdoors just seem to take that much more mental strength which when you think about it, is terrific for us because it helps us grow as runners.

When I do get outside for a run after running on the treadmill a majority of the time in the winter, I totally feel the difference. I feel empowered, tougher, stronger yet at the same time, even more at ease than usual.

Since I know I can master a treadmill run, I feel as though I can master any run < – mental strength right here.

Speed Work:

Of course we can do speed work just fine outside but tackling the speedy stuff inside on the treadmill can work even better for you sometimes. Since you have to set the speed for your workout, you have no choice but to run that fast — unless you feel like falling off of the treadmill.

I can select a fast pace to run which is sometimes easier to do than trying to tell myself outside to run a 7:30 mile.

Over time I am finding that the more I run the speed workouts indoors, the more I see my speedy self happen outdoors with less effort.

Renewed Appreciation for the Outdoors:

When you run outside all of the time, you sort of take it for granted.  When you run indoors and then get released again outside (released is how it feels when you can actually get outside!) you have a whole new appreciation! The fresh air (even if it’s cold), your familiar route, the feel of the ground, the wind…the outdoors.

You realize all over again why you love running outside and appreciate your hobby even more than before. This new-found renewed appreciated gives you an extra boost in your step, a refreshed frame of mind and stronger approach to your workouts.

Change of surface:

Even though I love running outdoors, it’s smart to change up your running surface to help avoid injury. I was talking to Laura the other day about this and here is what she said:

Varying your running surface is a great way to prevent injury as it helps you to utilize different muscles. Running on the treadmill is easier on your joints and muscles because the surface of the treadmill provides more give. If you run all of the time on the treadmill and then race on the roads, you may ache during the race but using the treadmill for a couple of runs a week is a great way to prevent soreness and injury. You get the same benefit from running on dirt trails, but treadmill are often more accessible and safe, especially in the winter.

The Hills:

I don’t run hills outside very often at all. My usual route is flat and directly outside my front door so I succumb to laziness rather than getting in the car to drive a few minutes to the hillier parts of town.

However, running on the treadmill allows me to play with the incline and create hills within my run whenever I want. I am able to raise the incline as high or as low as I wish, simulate hilly race courses and follow training plans which include hills without having to go anywhere.

More on treadmill incline workouts coming soon!

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Looking for more treadmill inspiration and workouts? Check out my running page listed at the top in the menu bar 🙂


How often do you run on the treadmill?

Do you change your running route often or stick to the same path?

When is your next race?

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  1. says

    I think i have run on a treadmill once in the past year. But that will probably have to change soon as there is literally no where to run in my neighborhood right now. The sidewalks have 4 foot piles of snow on them and the streets are narrow and icy. I am pretty sure I am going to do a week free trial at a gym and maybe a month membership just so I don’t have to completely stop doing cardio until spring! Thanks for pointing out the positives about treadmills, maybe treadmill running won’t be so bad:)
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…The Blizzard and Weekly Workout RecapMy Profile

    • says

      I know those piles are insane! They are the main reason I can’t run outside – they are easily 8 or 10 feet high in my neighborhood so I can’t see the cars coming at corners and they can’t see me. It’s so short lived that I accept the treadmill for now until I can get back outside. I think it’s smart for you to take a short term gym pass so you can get the cardio in for now.

    • says

      During the spring and summer, I run only outside, going months without using the treadmill! It’s not my first choice but in the winter, I do my best to accept it. I do have mornings though where I just can’t do it! lol

  2. says

    I just can’t settle into a treadmill run like I can outdoors…then again, I almost never have access to a treadmill, which means I run outdoors in all conditions. Which should mean the treadmill is nothing compared to running on ice. And yet – something about feeling like I’m not going anywhere just gets me, plus it feels harder on my knees even at a flat incline, more so than outdoor hills? All I can say is I admire your dedication!
    Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl recently posted…Staying Safe on a Snowstorm RunMy Profile

  3. says

    I’ve said it before, I genuinely love the treadmill. I call myself a lazy runner. The promise of netflix can get me on faster than anything else in the morning now that I wake to dark and cold. And I will be damned if I attempt running outside. Between the snow everywhere, and high drifts I would either wind up hit by a car or broken leg.
    I think where the treadmill is my downfall is that I get in my head with the pace, I lose the intuitive by feel effort that outdoors provides. I see that I am running mile repeats at an 8:00 pace and automatically think this is HARD. When the reality is I should have gone faster. I just make sure that I don’t phone it in while I am treadmill bound and that some of those workouts are genuine workouts not just easy running.
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted…TOL: Random TangentsMy Profile

  4. says

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I did all my runs last week inside, and it looks like all of my runs this week will be indoors again. I totally agree with the mental toughness aspect, and I do feel super accomplished when I finish a treadmill run. I was only running on the treadmill twice a week, when I was doing speed workouts to make sure I was hitting the correct paces. Next half marathon is 3/20 in Dallas!
    Jen@bubblyrunner.com recently posted…Weekend Wrap-Up+SnowzillaMy Profile

  5. says

    I’m learning to love the treadmill as well, because of two words: Gossip. Girl 😆 I’ve been finding my treadmill runs a lot more enjoyable since I started to pass the time with TV, but all these reasons you listed are pretty high up there on my list too… especially the one about treadmill runs causing me to be less achey than outdoor runs.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…soft and chewy double chocolate banana cookiesMy Profile

  6. says

    I use the treadmill to supplement my outdoor runs in that the treadmill is like protein powder, not my main meal. I tried to take Callum to the gym child care today so I didn’t have to sacrifice nap time to run (we have a treadmill in the garage) but he totally freaked out and wouldn’t let me leave. So we came home and I set up the garage with all of his toys, rearranged the fridge and freezer so that I could tuck the treadmill in between them and then I managed 5 miles while he played! Then I ran 8 outside later on.
    Suzy recently posted…Week In Review: Potty MouthMy Profile

    • says

      It took my son a long time to separate well for me. Preschool was rough the first few months which was the same time I tried the gym babysitting. Didn’t work at first but eventually he was ok with it. Glad you got your run in!

  7. says

    Treadmills have the option of monitoring the heart rate and blood pressure for patients who are doing work-outs in poor health or have heart problems.


  1. […] I trudged along slow for this run. I was still feeling a bit under the weather and it was raining rather hard outside, so I figured a treadmill workout would be ideal. Unless I have one of my anti-treadmill fits like I did a few months ago, I enjoy having at least one treadmill run a week to mix up my running surfaces, like Meredith discussed in her post on the benefits of treadmill running.  […]