Maybe you’re stuck on the treadmill because like me, today, it is six degrees outside and it’s just not fit for speed work. Or maybe something else has waylaid you and forced you onto that treadmill much to your own chagrin. Whatever the reason, whatever thing it is it’s made you be on the treadmill, what you know for sure is that the treadmill just seems a little bit harder than running outside. I’m Jesse Funk and on today’s episode of Runner’s High, we’re gonna talk about exactly why running on the treadmill seems harder than running outside.

So, I actually just got back from running a negative split run on the treadmill at the gym; 25 minutes out and then 25 minutes faster tempo. And it really probably felt harder than it would have outside, even despite the temperatures today. And this is something I knew going into it. It’s just what happens. You experience it once and then you go okay this is just how it is. This is how it’s going to be, the treadmill is going to be harder, I’m not going to go as fast, at least by the gauges on the treadmill, as I think I should be going.

But this can be really frustrating because you want to know, what’s happening to me? Am I actually in worse shape than I thought I was? What is it? But the fact of the matter is, and here’s the answer to your question is that when you’re on the treadmill you’re not actually running with the exact same gait and cadence, as you would outside. If you’ve been running for a number of years, you probably notice maybe some of those micro-movements if you’re really paying attention to your body and being body aware, that change when you’re on the treadmill, those micro-movements, those positions.

I noticed for me when I’m on the treadmill, that I’m limited by a few things and a few things happen with me. Number one, my cadence goes down and I’m not turning over my legs quite as fast as I do outside. Then I also notice that I stand more upright instead of having that nice little bit of lean that I talked about in one of my other videos when I talked about running form.

It’s important to have that nice lean when you run. So, these two things together, if not everything else like I feel almost a little claustrophobic at times or you get the arms on the side. Or today, I was listening to a stand up routine, had earphones in, trying not to snag that cord on my earphones and rip them out of my ears while I’m running. So, you’re making these little modifications because you’re on the treadmill and effectively not doing the exact same kind of movement that you would be outside.

All this is to really say that anytime you’re doing a new kind of exercise, it’s gonna feel more difficult than something that you’re used to. So, if you’re used to running outside like me and you’re outside all the time and then you’re forced inside, and you have these little changes in your gait, even though we’re running in both cases, it’s gonna feel a little bit harder than it does normally because you’re not using the exact same firing pattern. And the opposite situation is true.

If you are on the treadmill all of the time and then you go run outside, it’s going to feel harder than what you’re used to, not only because the treadmill can aid you because the belt is moving, a whole other conversation there, but because you’re using a different set of muscles. Well, a different firing pattern, not necessarily a different set of muscles entirely than you would be if you’re outside.

Now, you may be asking, well, because I’m doing it differently, should I give up the treadmill entirely? Absolutely not. That’s not what I’m saying at all. If you remember, and if you’ve spent any time at all with me on this channel, you know consistency is key. Consistency is the number one indicator of improvement over time. So, you have to be consistent with your running if you want to get better over time.

That means on days like today, for me, when it’s six degrees outside and I have to be on a treadmill; it’s better for me to go get on the treadmill, be a little bit different, and still pretty much get the same kind of workout in rather than sit on the couch and eat Doritos. That’s not going to be very good for my training.

So, if you have any questions for me, leave them down in the comments below. I’d love to answer your questions. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.