By: Stacie Morgenstern
In the last few days we’ve all been forced off our FreeMotion treadmills at OrangeTheory and many of us have been hitting the streets in our neighborhoods. We’ve all seen the posts of sore knees, hips, shins, backs, etc. now that we are pounding the pavement. There are pros and cons to both running on pavement as well as OrangeTheory’s FreeMotion REFLEX t11.3 treadmills.
The pros of the FreeMotion treadmill include the biggest one, their patented Flex Deck which provides shock absorption to your joints. According to ClubIndustry.com, this treadmill has a 52% greater reduction in tibial (shinbone) shock than the concrete we run on outside. This allows us to run longer and stronger. When running on a treadmill the belt helps hold your speed steady, it moves for you and allows you to hold that steady speed that can be lost outside. Another big pro with treadmill running is it’s a completely controlled environment. If the treadmill is inside your house or the studio the temperature is controlled (in your garage you have a little less control on this aspect). You choose the incline and the speed you want, and the treadmill holds you steady. You choose your intervals or your controlled hill climbs and run in a straight-line forward.
The Pros of outside running include, variability to your run. The hills are not programmed, you may have to dodge around people, things in the road, step up or down curbs, etc. so you are not always running in a perfectly straight line, you are using more muscles to compensate for these changes. The weather can be a pro or con. The weather is not predictable, so it helps you train in different weather conditions. Wind behind you can help you, wind in your face is an extra level of resistance. With outside running you use more muscle activation because your feet have to grab the ground to propel you forward. It also tends to be more suited to your natural gait because you’re doing the work yourself and aren’t limited by the parameters of the treadmill which can cause some people to shorten their stride (Rondel King, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist at NYU)
The cons of the treadmill: you are always using the same muscles because the treadmill is feeding the belt to you and you are always running in a straight line. If you are a fast runner who maxes out the treadmill speed, there is not a way for you to go faster and similarly the incline has a max level as well.
The Cons of running outside: the unpredictability of weather and environment, there is more impact on your joints so you may feel more pain after you run, you don’t have the accountability of your OTF coach or those running next to you on the treads to keep you going. It’s also harder to hold the steady speeds unless you have one of those fancy watches or an app where you can watch your pace.
An interesting fact for both the treadmill and outside running, according to Rondel King is that your VO2 Max is about the same on both – while running outside may “feel” harder, what’s going on inside your body is similar and that’s the most important part.
I know we are all missing our OTF treadmills right now but if you are taking it to the streets and are feeling that joint pain, back your mileage off a bit or alternate running days and walking days so that when we can get back on our treadmills in the studio we can come back and pick up where we left off.