Treadmill vs track vs Asphalt re:running. Opinions!!!

I try not to run on back to back days, but as mileage increases for spring races, I find it can’t be helped. Getting 40-50 miles a week requires 4 or 5 days a week of running.

I’ve been thinking of alternating surfaces- track, asphalt and treadmill. Do you see benefits to that? My intuition says it will avoid too much overuse issue...any suggestions on how to split runs so I can give my body more than 24 hours off between? Do I even need more than 24 hours (barring intense speed or hill intervals)??

I’m not doing much cross training other than lifting and yoga. (I know, cardinal sin, but there’s no time...standard excuse)

Give me wise words.

Replies

  • MichelleMcKeeRN
    MichelleMcKeeRN Posts: 385 Member
    Treadmill and outside running is different for me. I would think trail and treadmill running would be easier on your knees. I think you need pro level advice though, lol. Wow... 40-50 miles a week!
  • therustylink
    therustylink Posts: 3 Member
    Running on track or treadmill will save your knees. Running on trails I have found is easier on my knees then the sidewalk. So I trail run. However if you have a treadmill run with an increase like a 2 or 3 as it will simulate running outside
  • firef1y72
    firef1y72 Posts: 1,578 Member
    I go through phases where I run every day (my longest streak was over 18months).

    Even now I will often run 4 or more days in a row. I run a mix of road and trail (sometimes in the same run) to try and reduce some of the impact on my ankles/feet. During marathon training, I would have my planned training runs, so a fast 5k, a sprint or hill session, a long run and recovery run. Then the other 3 days I would run 1-3miles depending how I felt. With at least one of those I would do a short run first thing in the morning and then the next day I would run in the afternoon/evening so I had over 24hours between runs.
  • dewd2
    dewd2 Posts: 2,449 Member
    edited January 2020
    If you are running 40-50 miles a week then back to back to back days should not be an issue. If they are, you're running too many miles (or running too many 'fast' miles).

    It is wise to vary your terrain. This is especially true if you run on the side of the street all the time since most are slightly slanted to allow drainage. This results in your foot always landing at an angle. I don't generally worry about surfaces. I probably hit the track 2 or 3 times a year. I avoid the dreadmill as much as I can. :D I do run trails some and mix in some rail trails as well.
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,792 Member
    +1 for varying terrain.

    Members of my training group often make our long run days a trail run. The marathoners will then do marathon paced runs on a separate day. For our group of middle aged runners (50yrs &) avoiding injury is the number one priority.

  • RunnerGirl238
    RunnerGirl238 Posts: 448 Member
    I should clarify- I anticipate my high mileage weeks. I’m at 30ish right now. Will get to 40 for half training, 50 come full
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,380 Member
    As long as you build your mileage gradually, you should be fine with back to back runs. I run 5 days a week, usually T, W, Th, Sat, Sun. Varying your surfaces can be helpful, but isn't essential. I do most of my runs on the street since there are no sidewalks in my neighborhood or on the rural roads nearby. The sidewalks in town are often cracked and crooked, so if I run there I prefer the street. The difference between concrete and asphalt isn't that great, though concrete is slightly harder. Trail running can be a good option for less impact, if the trails are good. I do some of my runs on a gravel rail trail or canal towpath, but they are a 45 minute drive so I don't do them often. I like running gravel forest roads when I want a lot of elevation gain, but again it's a 45+ minute drive to get there. The single track trails in my part of PA are steep and rocky, so not great for marathon training since I have to walk so much on them. Treadmill is less impact than pavement, but I prefer to run outside so do whenever I can. Running with a lot of incline on the TM can stress your knees, so keep it at .5-2%. If you have access to a school track, that can also be less impact. I don't, but many of my friends do weekly speed sessions on the track.
  • MotherOfSharpei
    MotherOfSharpei Posts: 1,150 Member
    I vary between trails and asphalt...have never really ran on a track and just get nothing out of a treadmill except irritation. I find the trail to be beneficial, even to my road races because it builds up my stabilizer muscles and requires me to pick my feet up even when I'm tired. It's also easier on my joints.
  • dsg2000
    dsg2000 Posts: 36 Member
    I run about 50 miles in my "off" season (e.g., when not actively training), which translates to 6 days a week of running. I don't actively vary my training surfaces and have never had serious issues. What I do do, however, is vary shoes - I have a few different pairs from different brands that I cycle through. I think this gives me the same type of benefits you'd be looking for by varying surfaces (slightly different feel, cushioning, etc.) and also has the benefit that your shoes get a rest, meaning they last longer. You might want to try this. I generally have a pair of lighter shoes that I'll use for speedwork days and for actual races and another that I'll use for my 'normal' and long runs.

    Trail running is great, but I wouldn't make a point of doing it unless I was training for a trail run. I'd also say that treadmill might be a different "surface", but it's got other issues that make it worse than running outside - you're not able to vary your pace naturally, and it's just different from running outside, so it doesn't give you the same specific training stimulus. Treadmills and tracks are great for speedwork, though!
  • chelny
    chelny Posts: 179 Member
    A couple of years ago I trained with a local running group with a coach. She encouraged running 5x/week, and many of the people in the group were training for half marathons. One thing she stressed was to definitely let your easy runs be easy. Train hard on your hard runs, but take it easy on easy days. It is part of the recovery process. And rest days are important too. I've also heard about varying surfaces, if possible, and rotating shoes. Good to see other people mention those things. Just thought I'd throw my 2cents in. Good luck!
  • tara_mcconnell
    tara_mcconnell Posts: 16 Member
    I feel that I can run for a longer period of time on the treadmill than on asphalt! I also believe it’s a personal preference.
    Good luck :)
  • RunnerGirl238
    RunnerGirl238 Posts: 448 Member
    Ok, trial run: ran a 5 mile tempo on the treadmill at .5% incline with some strides thrown in for fun on Saturday. Ran my LSD, truly zone 2, today on a mix of trail and asphalt. I definitely don’t feel pain or tired. I have about 36 miles on the docket this week (10 run today...) so we will see how the last 26 work.

  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,227 Member
    When I am running >40 miles a week, I try to do about 1/3 of them on not asphalt/concrete. I have a hard time with all hard surface running at those volumes. I don’t find that doing some portion of my mileage on soft surfaces impacts my ability to do the full race distance on hard surface. I run consecutive days though (regardless of mileage).

    I am fortunate that I live near a local high school so I’m able to do laps of the track as part of my normal route. Trails are not as easy to get to for me. I don’t mind the TM (too much) and am currently using it quite a bit.
  • lporter229
    lporter229 Posts: 4,907 Member
    As others have said, as long as you build up gradually, running high mileage and back to back days will not be an issue. More importantly than varying the terrain, however, is varying the speed of your runs. Recovery runs (i.e. slower than you want to run) are pretty important after speed work and your LSD run. The only way that you are going to be able to run 45+ miles per week is if you embrace the recovery pace. This comes from a place of experience. Trust me.

    As far as terrain, if your race is on the road, try and run on the road as much as possible. Trail running is a nice alternative, but, depending on the terrain, I almost consider it cross training. It's just a different beast, which is okay, just as long as you are taking this into consideration with your training. I tend to reserve my track runs for speed work. One thing to consider when running on a track is that, if you are running laps, you are making frequent turns all in the same direction. This can have an impact on your knees. Try changing direction at regular intervals. I also recommend this if you frequently run in subdivisions with lots of cul-de-sacs...alternate the direction that you turn around with each cul-de-sac. And if the road is heavily cambered, try running on the opposite side of the road if it is safe to do so. In general, you want to avoid having an imbalance in your running.
  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,227 Member
    lporter229 wrote: »
    As others have said, as long as you build up gradually, running high mileage and back to back days will not be an issue. More importantly than varying the terrain, however, is varying the speed of your runs. Recovery runs (i.e. slower than you want to run) are pretty important after speed work and your LSD run. The only way that you are going to be able to run 45+ miles per week is if you embrace the recovery pace. This comes from a place of experience. Trust me.

    As far as terrain, if your race is on the road, try and run on the road as much as possible. Trail running is a nice alternative, but, depending on the terrain, I almost consider it cross training. It's just a different beast, which is okay, just as long as you are taking this into consideration with your training. I tend to reserve my track runs for speed work. One thing to consider when running on a track is that, if you are running laps, you are making frequent turns all in the same direction. This can have an impact on your knees. Try changing direction at regular intervals. I also recommend this if you frequently run in subdivisions with lots of cul-de-sacs...alternate the direction that you turn around with each cul-de-sac. And if the road is heavily cambered, try running on the opposite side of the road if it is safe to do so. In general, you want to avoid having an imbalance in your running.

    RE: varying your trek through the neighborhood- after one of my bazillion injury rehabs when my PT had cleared me to walk in the great outdoors on non-smooth surfaces (eg not the track), he was insistent that I find a route that allowed me to be on both sides of the street (for road camber) at places that were flat, uphill and downhill and included right and left turns (ideally when going up and down hills on both sides of the street). That sounds immensely complicated, but it really wasn’t. I do live in an area where there are places where I’m safe to run with traffic (as there isn’t any). And it wasn’t so much that it had to be steep hills (up or down) but enough for the forces to be in effect. I still use the same route for my running and I it does a lot to help with keeping things balanced.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    Dirt is easiest on my joints. Slower for the same effort, which is probably good for race prep because on the big day it'll feel easier than you're used to.
  • GiddyupTim
    GiddyupTim Posts: 2,819 Member
    edited January 2020
    Ah shoot!
    Everyone has recommended already whatever I might advise.
    I have a torn meniscus and plantar fasciitis (which, fortunately, isn't acting up right now).
    But I run four to six days a week.
    Because i pay a price for this, I vary my running quite a bit.
    I run long (6-8 miles) on the streets three times a week.
    On the other days, I go to the track and do sprint training. This is good because the track is softer. Plus, it improves my lung capacity and my running mechanics, with much less mileage. I do a workout where I run 1600 meters, rest 1-2 minutes, 1200 meters, rest, 800 meters, rest, 400 meters, rest, then some 200 meter sprints. Or, i do a mile warm-up, and then run 100 meter sprints. In total, it is much lower mileage than the street runs, but it is as good a workout.
    I've also started replacing as many runs as I can with a spin class. Great training, no pounding.
    Good luck!