With mince pies and festive feasts coming up, a lot of us will be considering our exercise regime. You may be a seasoned runner or just thinking about taking it up to help keep that Christmas excess down. The problem with this time of year is the weather. Do you run inside or out, or a mixture of both?
What are the differences?
Gyms: Gyms tend to be very accessible and plentiful. They usually always have a good stock of treadmills waiting to be used. The downside is that you will need to pay a monthly (or per use) fee.
Outside: The outdoors are always there, it will never be too busy and it is free. All you need is a little motivation and a 30 minute run. It is incredibly accessible. The downside here is, of course, the weather and the surfaces. You may have to work harder and be careful.
What are the pros and cons?
Gyms: Treadmills offer a very tailored running experience. You can pre-program a run to suit your training needs. The incline function allows you to push yourself harder, and can mimic the outdoors by adding some resistance to your run. The downside is that treadmills are repetitive and lack changing scenery, you could find it boring.
Outside: The great outdoors offers endless routes from flats to hills, so you can pick and choose wherever you want to run too. The downside, again, is the weather. You need to be committed to any program you do, because irregular exercise can deter you, whereas regularity encourages you to keep going.
How fast do I need to run?
Gym: We all know that a treadmill is computerised, and allows you to set your own pace. This makes it ideal for winter training because you can set it to offer a mixture of resistance and you can monitor your progress and speed as you go. The downside to this is that you may become reliant on those figures, and you become to focused on them rather than the run itself.
Outside: It goes without saying that you can try and set your pace when you are outside, and this pace depends on the terrain. You can use this time to escape from technology and immerse yourself in the experience of running. The downside is that you will find it difficult to step away from technology. Simply because it makes sense to keep an eye on your pace to maximise your workout. There are plenty of gadgets and apps available, so you can get the best of both.
The ultimate question is...Which is better?
Gym: Treadmills are great for setting and maintaining a pace. You can use them in any weather and they are brilliant for endurance training. You can develop and maintain a good stride and have a tailor made run. The downside is boredom and it may well put you off going back.
Outside: There is a lot to see outside and once you get so far into your run, you still have to run back, so motivation is a huge factor. It is free and you can do it with other things, such as (literally) running errands, running with friends and so on. The downside is the weather. It can be cold and damp. There are also hazards like cars and people getting in the way that you need to consider.
In the end...
...it is up to you and your preferences. Running is a great exercise and done correctly, it will improve your fitness. If you cant decide, then you can use both methods and use the gym and the outdoors. If you like to tune out to music and just run thought free, the gym could be for you. Or if you need changing scenery, consider outdoor running, just get the right kit.