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Which is better, running on the street or on a treadmill? Here’s how you should practice

If you want to get in shape thanks to the running machine, you will first have to take into account a series of important variables that you must introduce in your exercises. We’ll tell you about them.

Which is better, running on the street or on a treadmill
Find out how to get the most out of your indoor races

There are many who doubt about the effectiveness of treadmill running training; but now that we are in the middle of a cold and rainy season, with much less daylight hours, it can be the perfect substitute to maintain the routine of our running training. Although it is true that running on the treadmill requires slightly less effort than running on the road, as well as helping in the displacement and not having the irregularities of the asphalt, the fact that they are inside the gyms, the temperature (hot or cold), the wind and other weather conditions facilitate our training.

To match outdoor running conditions indoors you should slightly increase the speed when running on the treadmill.

The fact that the treadmill was a machine that elite runners started using when they couldn’t keep up with their training plan outside seems to answer the question we asked in the title of this article in the affirmative. Treadmill training: Yes or no? The answer is yes, but as a complement or substitute. Treadmill training, yes, but taking into account and applying a number of important issues that will allow you to faithfully reproduce your training on the street. The variables that you should introduce in your treadmill training are:


Running on the treadmill in principle requires less effort in your training, because although we do not realize it, it does not have the unevenness that we find in the street. You should include variations in the incline of the treadmill. When running at a controlled pace, to resemble as closely as possible running training on asphalt, raise the incline by a degree or two, and even alternate degrees of incline from time to time to better simulate the outdoor terrain.

Speed increase

As mentioned above, the fact that the treadmill moves automatically also helps you move. You don’t have to pull your body, the treadmill helps you move. Your running is easier on the treadmill. It presents you with slightly less resistance than running on asphalt. Therefore, to level the playing field, you should increase your speed slightly when running on the treadmill compared to running outdoors. Fifteen seconds faster per kilometer would be the pace that best reflects your outdoor pace.

Long and varied

The fact that we do our running training indoors will cause us to perspire more than when we run outdoors. As a result, our feeling of fatigue will be greater. Added to this is the monotony of running indoors, which undoubtedly causes a feeling of tiredness and a desire to give up, which will probably reduce our training time. To avoid these sensations, it is essential to plan a sufficiently long training session and to force ourselves to stick to it using tricks that distract us from the anodyne running on the treadmill. The best trick is to vary the intensities and inclines.

Un entrenamiento tipo idóneo y que suelo practicar consiste en:

  • 5 minutes of warm-up at a controlled and comfortable speed so that we warm up and our body adjusts to the demands of our training. (5’0’’)
  • 4 minutes at a controlled pace, the equivalent of our long run pace (4’45”)
  • 4 minutes at a brisker pace, equivalent to marathon pace (4’15”)
  • 4 minutes at long run pace again. (4’50’’)

Everyone should adjust their pace according to their running times.

Repeat this cycle as many times as you need to complete the programmed run. In my case it will normally be a couple of times more, to reach 40 minutes of training and finish with another 5 minutes of cooling down. The same applies to the training programs preset by the machine itself. There are routines that simulate mountain training, interval training with different inclines and long runs, etc., and all of them are equally effective.

To avoid the feeling of fatigue, we must include variations in our routine that distract us and help us to achieve small challenges

Most of the time, the main enemy we have when we train on a treadmill is usually boredom and the feeling of fatigue that invades us much earlier than when we run on an outdoor circuit where we have to go and come back. Psychologically, the fact of being able to give up at the slightest sensation of fatigue weakens us and pushes us to stop training early. To avoid this feeling we must include variations in our routine that distract our attention and help us to achieve small challenges, small goals. Effective tricks to combat this feeling of abandonment is to start at a relatively slow pace, warm-up, and gradually increase the speed in very small sections of 0.3 kilometers per hour every three minutes.

So, if we start riding at a pace of 12km/h, and after warming up for five minutes at this speed, we start increasing the speed to a pace of 0.3km/h every 3 minutes, we have a better chance of completing the workout. In this way we will complete ten 3-minute stretches or, in other words, thirty minutes of effective running. Pursuing a challenge helps us to complete the training and prepares us psychologically to face the challenges of a marathon. If we increase our speed every three minutes, we will be able to run for 40 minutes (including the initial five minutes of warm-up and the final five minutes of cool-down).

Both in treadmill training and when we want to complete a marathon, it is important to set short-term goals. Small increments of speed on the treadmill and completing 5km stretches in a marathon. Thinking about running for 40 minutes on the treadmill or running 42km in a row becomes easier if we break it down into segments.

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