If you’re a runner heading into the depths of winter, the dreaded confrontation with the treadmill becomes inevitable. Like most, I’m ambivalent about treadmills. I am glad they’re there but mostly I’m still a bit apathetic as they are clearly no substitute for outdoor running. I will run in just about any weather to avoid treadmills, but if you get winters as bad as the Midwest, you’re guaranteed at least a few weeks out of the year with no option. The ice, snow, or temperature can get too dangerous. My goal was to create a list of positives this time around to get us a bit more excited, or at the least, accepting of treadmill season.
- You don’t need to go far — On most long runs outside, you may need to travel far. In that time, you can get injured or tired. If you’re on a treadmill, you’re either home or at a gym, where if you get injured it’s more likely you can get assistance. If you get tired, you can simply stop.
- Places for your stuff — I like to run light like as if I were in a race. I know there are tons of ways to hold my stuff like backpacks, utility belts, pockets, but I prefer to bring as little as possible. I love how treadmills have those cupholders where I can put my keys, water, wallet, phone, etc. It’s so much more convenient.
- More reliable for pacing — I like how I can control the intensity of my run with a treadmill much easier than on the road. I look less at my running watch and run more consistently.
- Multi-tasking — I typically like to focus on the run when I’m running outside, but being stuck indoors does come with perks too. I can watch a movie, answer emails, talk with friends, do social media, etc.
5. Wear whatever — Because treadmill running usually takes place in a temperature-controlled environment, there’s a lot less fretting over what to wear. In the winter, I may need to bulk up to stay warm initially, but then I’ll get really warm and want to take those bulky items off. With treadmill running, it can be the dead of winter and I am in shorts!
6. Shoe longevity — According to shoe guru Martyn R. Shorten, Ph.D., “A treadmill is generally gentler on shoes” (Runners World, 2016). I agree for the most part. The road or trail is much more abrasive and inconsistent in texture compared to the treadmill. I do find that wear can occur on the edges of the shoe more on the treadmill, but the meat of the sole where my feet land gets worn down less. In my humble opinion, that part matters more and makes shoes last longer.
7. Less prone to injury — Surely treadmill injuries occur, but it still seems a lot less risky than slipping on snow or ice.
8. Less sloppy — Too many winter runs involve stepping in slush, wet socks, and dirty shoes. If the roads are not paved, some folks didn’t shovel their walks, or it’s too slippery, I am glad to circumvent that mess with some treadmill running.
9. Less traffic — Running in the city involves avoiding so many other people and things. There are cars full of people that don’t see you because they are on their phones. There are other pedestrians, runners, and cyclists. Running through a high-populated area during a pandemic can feel stuffy. Even trails can have a lot of traffic in the off-season. It feels good to just able to run freely sometimes without having to focus so much on obstacles flying at you.
10. Be with family — If you have access to a treadmill inside, you can get your miles in while still being around family. If you have a wife or kids, this can put them much more at ease as opposed to spending many hours outside away from them each week.
So…are you ready to take on the treadmill!?!?