running indoors

If you are a new runner or a seasoned athlete, you try to get in a run as often as possible. For many runners, that involves running indoor on a track, but is it the best option?  Yes, it’s convenient and comfortable because the weather is always good when you are indoors, but running indoors on a track can hinder your progress. Here are the 5 reasons to stop running indoors.

5 Reasons to Stop Running Indoors

1. No incline training

Running outdoor and running indoors are two completely different experiences. You will find that running indoors doesn’t necessarily prepare you for tackling the outdoor run. One of the biggest differences you will notice is your breathing. When you run indoors, yo u don’t get the benefit of elevation changes and inclines.

When I say “elevation changes,” I am not talking about significant drops and increases in elevation, rather any incline change that will improve your endurance and your lung capacity. If the area where you run has many hills and inclines, your workout will be more effective, you will burn more calories, you will challenge different muscles, and you will alter your speed.

Running on an indoor track does not offer the same benefits.

2. Higher risk of injuries

Running on a small indoor oval track can increase your risk for injuries. Consider the track for a moment and how you run on it. You go around and around, the same way each time. The repetitive movements will cause imbalances and unnecessary stress on one-side of the body. Plus, indoor tracks often have tight turns and slippery surfaces.  

A 2000 study revealed that athletes who run on small radius indoor tracks have significant, asymmetrical changes in strength and biomechanics, which means athletes experience strength imbalances. Running indoor on small tracks has been linked to knee injuries, ankle injuries, and uneven hamstring performance.

If you do run indoors, do not run the same way the entire time. Balance your training. Run clockwise and counterclockwise for maximum performance. Also include resistance training and balance work in your fitness plan.

3. Lower caloric expenditure

Terrain running has a larger impact on your workout than running indoors does. While running on a treadmill indoors or on an indoor track is an excellent way to increase your heart rate, get your blood pumping, burn calories, and to reduce stress, they will not help you improve your running plan significantly or prepare you for running competitions.

Running outside is not the same as running indoors. You will discover that your pace is different, your breathing is off, the soft tissue condition necessary for running will not occur, and an indoor track is not capable of reproducing the terrain, weather conditions, and air quality you will experience when you do run outside.

4. No wind resistance

The climate is just right on an indoor track. There is no wind at your back or blowing in your face. While it sounds nice to run without the wind accompanying you, you do not benefit from the resistance it provides you when running.

Wind resistance while running improves endurance and it helps you mentally push through the resistance. If you can finish your run with the wind beating against you, you mentally and physically prepare yourself for other obstacles that threaten to inhibit your performance.

5. It is boring!

The biggest blunder to your workout when running indoors is that it can be boring! Yes, there is usually a television on in front of you somewhere, but as you start to run, your eyes begin to wander. Where do they go? When you are on a treadmill, they go straight down to the activity screen, where you discover how far you have left to go. It can become frustrating. When you run outside, your senses are constantly stimulated, and you can change your location, direction, and speed at any time.

I know outdoor running is not possible all the time, but it should be favored most of the time. Outdoor running is the best type of running you can do. If you do have to train indoors, make sure you include cross-training into your workout plan at least three times per week.

Whatever you do, don’t stop running, regardless of where you train. Running indoors is better than not running at all.