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Cross Training For Runners

Running On a Treadmill VS. Running Outside

3 Mins read

Runners know very well that running in the gym is much more pleasant: no stabbing in the side, no drying out of the throat, no panting – you run at your pleasure at least 5 km, at least 10. But as soon as you go outside, the happy and easy miles you’ve run a thousand times suddenly become torture. Today, in this article, the paper writer will examine why this happens and determine which workout helps you burn more calories.

There is little difference if you compare running in the gym and running on the street: both are cardio workouts, and the muscles involved are the same. And if it is a track at the stadium with a unique surface, the surface is almost no different. But a more detailed comparison shows that there is a difference. And a significant one!

The weather conditions


It’s almost always the same “weather conditions” in the halls. Sometimes it can be a little cooler or hotter, but this is all corrected by adjusting the air conditioner settings. And if you have breathing problems: a deviated septum, frequent maxillary sinusitis, or frequent bronchitis, a treadmill can be your salvation because breathing while running indoors is much easier. You’re unlikely to catch bronchitis in temperatures of +23 without a headwind and with the right clothing choices.

If you want to simulate wind resistance, increase the angle of the treadmill by 1 degree.


Outdoors has everything: sun, wind, humidity, and different temperatures. Physical sensations are a separate topic because in the gym, with constant temperature and humidity, you are unlikely to get runny eyes, dry up your nasopharynx, or have water running out of your nose. All of this is a hindrance and makes running outdoors more challenging regarding feeling and exertion.

Injury rate


Even though the treadmill’s surface is flat and made of suitable material, injuries happen to it. You can turn down the pace or change the angle of the treadmill with a few button presses, but constantly repeating runs at the same rate and for the same amount of time puts stress on the same muscles and joints because the landscape underfoot doesn’t change (you can read more about treadmill injuries in this article).


Outdoor injuries happen for several reasons: the wrong running surface (concrete slabs or asphalt) or trivial inattention (holes, roots, ice, and so on). But on the other hand, the ever-changing terrain provides a variety of stresses on your legs and your whole body in general. You are not constantly pounding on the same points but continually changing the load and which muscles are more involved in the work.

Calories burned


On a treadmill, the weather conditions around you (if you call the gym and air conditioning that) are the same in winter and summer. During the heating season, the humidity sometimes drops, but this is easily leveled out with a humidifier, assuming you have a treadmill in your home.

Keep in mind that the number of calories burned displayed on your treadmill (and other cardio equipment) may be inflated by 15-20%.


We’ve written before about factors that affect the amount of energy expended during exercise. It is cold outside – you spend more energy warming up the body. When it’s hot and humid, your body temperature rises, your blood works to cool your body, and your muscles get less oxygen, resulting in an increased workload. Or the same wind blows into your back, helping and pushing you, or slows you down, blowing right in your face, and you have to work harder to overcome the resistance.

Some studies show that running outside burns an average of 5 percent more calories than exercising on a treadmill. At a pace of 6 minutes per mile, the difference goes up to 10%.

Running Technique


Treadmill running teaches us to avoid taking vast strides. For example, if adults can set a comfortable pace on a treadmill, they run slower, and their stride becomes shorter. That is the cadence increases.

Running on a treadmill in the gym does not involve moving your body forward because it moves under your feet. This means that the load on the quadriceps muscle is much greater than the load on the glutes and biceps, which can lead to muscle imbalances.


You can learn any running technique on the street under the supervision of a trainer, and after a few lessons, you can practice independently. The main thing is to choose a suitable running surface.



The beauty of the treadmill is that it can think for you. There are different programs out there that allow you to choose a goal and walk slowly but surely toward it. For example, you can select the Hill Run workout and set your elevation gain and incline. No surprises! However, unpleasant surprises are also excluded.


You can choose any route on the street and run as long as you like. As long as it’s not a lap in the school stadium, the scenery that passes by can be very diverse: from the streets of your hometown to suburban trails – it all depends on your mood and abilities.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both options. Of course, the pros of running outside are much more, except that in terms of comfort, the treadmill wins. But in any case, it is up to you to choose where to run, and no one prevents you from alternating between options depending on how you feel and the weather conditions.

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