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How To Simulate Running Outside On A Treadmill? Our Guide Here

Despite the many advantages of treadmills including convenience and versatility, many people still prefer running outdoors. For some, it’s the views, for others it’s the fresh air and greater sense of freedom. However, there are a couple of issues with running outside.

The main one is that it’s not always possible to go running outside. In the winter, if it’s raining or if you’d simply prefer to exercise during the evening, you might find yourself having to run on a treadmill instead. Running on a treadmill doesn’t have to be a chore, though. 

If you have ever been curious about the treadmill running vs running outside, you will be interested to know that there are a few factors that are very different and play a large role in how you will feel during the exercise.  First of all, the treadmill has a very different feel due to the lack of wind and air resistance. Also, the treadmill runners are generally not faced with hills and other obstacles that you might see outside, making the running easier.

Is it Possible to Simulate Running Outside on a Treadmill?

The answer may surprise you: it depends. That’s right- no matter how hard you try, you can never simulate the feeling of actually running outside on a treadmill. This is because it is literally impossible to recreate the exact same environment in a controlled setting, where all you have to do is press start and run. Unlike a treadmill, when you run outside you have to account for things like the wind and the terrain, which make a huge difference in how you feel and perform. Here are some tips on how to simulate running outside on a treadmill:

To Simulate Outside Running

You will need to begin with a speed of at least 9 miles per hour and incline of 2.5 percent. If you can reach these speeds, then you should be able to run at 4 miles per hour, which is the equivalent of a 6 minute mile.

For a more realistic simulation, try running at a speed of 9 miles per hour for a quarter of a mile, than increase the speed by .5 miles per hour until you reach a speed of 11.5 miles per hour. From that point, decrease the speed by .5 miles per hour until you reach 9 miles per hour.

Use a Slight Incline

The incline is a key factor in treadmill running. You can select a low incline and run outside, or select a higher incline and run inside. The difference between these two settings is not great, but it’s important. By using a slight incline to simulate running outside, you can have all the benefits of outdoor running without the weather and travel complications.

Running on a treadmill can get pretty boring, especially if you run on a flat surface. A good way to make your treadmill runs more interesting is to set the incline at about 1 percent. This slight incline causes you to burn more calories and work harder than you would if you ran on a flat surface. In other words, you will get a better workout. If you don’t have a treadmill, that’s no problem; get a step stool and create a slight incline on a flat surface.

Pay Attention to Your Stride

If you’re following a treadmill workout for the first time, it’s important to pay attention to your stride. Running outside comes naturally, but when you’re on a treadmill, you have to concentrate on your foot placement. The biggest mistake most runners make is taking too long of strides. This results in a choppy, uncomfortable run and can lead to injury. To avoid this, pay attention to your stride, and adjust your speed accordingly.

Improve Your Stride Count

Running outside is great, but it can be hard to find time—especially if you’re training for a 5k or marathon. If you have a treadmill, though, you can simulate running outside by increasing your stride count.

If you are like most people, you probably have never heard of stride count. Stated simply, stride count is the average number of steps you take during a run. Stride count has been used as a metric for running for many years. In fact, in the 1960s, Dr. Herman Adriaans, a noted pioneer in the field of biomechanics, developed the stride count method of evaluating running form.

Visualize a Route

Running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises that you can do, but for many people, running outside can be a nuisance. Getting up early, dealing with weather and traffic, and continuing to run outside even if it’s nighttime are just a few of the reasons some people choose to run on a treadmill. However, running on a treadmill can be boring, and it can be easy to do the same thing over and over again. To avoid becoming bored, you can simulate running outside by visualizing a route in the form of a video.

We all know the health benefits of running, from weight loss to improved cardiovascular health. However, there are some days that it can be very hard to get out the door, especially during the colder winter months. When this happens, you can simulate the feeling of running outside by visualizing a route. These routes can be based on your favorite running route or a route of your choosing.

Hill Repetitions Run

The treadmill can get you off the streets and indoors. Studies show that the treadmill can be a huge benefit to your running routine if you keep your workout routine and treadmill running time consistently. 

You’ve heard of interval training, where you run for a minute or so, and then slow down a bit to recover for a minute, and repeat that sequence. This is called high-intensity exercise or HIIT training. Interval training with a treadmill uses the treadmill’s incline to simulate running up a hill. As you run, the treadmill will set a pace that you can’t maintain until you reach the top of the “hill.” Usually you can slowly walk as you recover. This type of training can be very effective to help you with running.

For your running program, you should keep the intensity of your treadmill running at 6.0 to 7.0. You should keep the duration of your run to 45 minutes to an hour.

Last Words

One of the most difficult things to do when running on a treadmill is the ability to simulate the experience of running outside. To simulate running outside on a treadmill, you should adjust the incline to simulate running uphill. Not only will this help you burn more calories, but it will help you train for the incline of your next race. Running on a treadmill can be a great way to lose weight.

One of the most common problems people face when running on a treadmill is boredom. It is important to find ways to distract yourself while you are running on a treadmill. You can listen to music, watch TV, or even read a book.


Randy Lucas

Randy here - Fitness enthusiast and avid runner - besides running I also love playing with my two German Shepherds Peter and Bruce - oh and I love cooking. I am the Webmaster over at where I ramble about all things fitness in an effort to make the world a healthier place.