Endurance training: indoors versus outdoors

Valentin Belz 22. January 2019

During the winter months, many amateur athletes leave their training gear in the corner. They find it too dark, too wet, or too cold. While some treat the winter as a welcome training break, others would like to continue running or cycling but somehow lack the motivation to do regular training outdoors.

Indoor training has become a popular alternative for many. Instead of exposing themselves to the wind and weather, they do their training indoors. There are meanwhile other reasons for using indoor training systems than merely avoiding the seasonal bad weather. Many successful top athletes such as Daniela Ryf, Dario Cologna, or Caroline Steffen do targeted training on the treadmill or bike roller on a regular basis because they want to make use of the advantages this form of training offers. Reason enough to highlight the advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of indoor training

  • Indoor training is very effective because you can perform the same movement patterns as when outdoors (running on the treadmill, cycling with your own bike on the roller).
  • Indoor training is very efficient because there are no free kilometres during training due to the topography of a route. Every metre, every second needs to be run or experienced.
  • Indoor training is very precise because at the push of a button you can change the speed, gradient, or resistance.
  • Being subjected to a non-stop load, which is a new stimulus for the muscles, is the very reason why it has such a positive impact on the individual performance capability.
  • When used correctly, the risk of injury is virtually nil. Problems that arise due to the darkness (tripping), slippery ground (danger of slipping) or cold (tense muscles) are not an issue.

Disadvantages of indoor training

  • Whereas you can think about whether you even want to get changed for half an hour of outdoor training, with indoor training the time hardly passes at all. Every single minute needs to be run or experienced.
  • Outdoor training is always a great experience, whereas indoors you always stay on the same track. You can neither feel the temperature, see the break of dawn, nor discover a new route.
  • The strain on the musculoskeletal system is always the same. As a result, you run the risk of overloading.
  • Oxygen strengthens the immune system and stimulates the brain’s performance. You won’t benefit from this if you train indoors and should therefore go for a walk before or after.
  • A good performance test indoors does not mean that you will get the same result outdoors. Whereas every step is supported while running on the treadmill, more effort is required outdoors. It is therefore recommended that you set the gradient on the treadmill to 1 percent.