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The Runner’s Dilemma

by Meghann on November 4, 2010

Run outside in the rain or inside on the dry treadmill?

Wet or dry? Cold or warm? Entertainment or boredom?

Ughh…. as much as I was praising the desperately needed rain yesterday, I wasn’t very happy when I stepped outside and felt the drip drip drip on the top of my head. I had been planning a nice 6 mile tempo run outside, but the rain immediately made me question that plan.

At first I thought I could stick it out. The thought of running 6 miles on a treadmill bored me to tears and what’s a little rain anyways? I made it exactly a quarter mile before I realized A) I could get sick doing this and ruin my trip to San Francisco this weekend and B) Running in the dark in the rain is a very scary thing!

Kicking and screaming I made my way to the treadmill to knock out the remaining 5.75 miles.

It wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t fun either. Sometimes I think if I were forced to do all of my long runs – or anything longer than 5 miles – on a treadmill that I would never train for a race. Running is supposed to be run and when I’m chained to a treadmill for an hour or more it stops being fun.

Major kudos to all the runners out there who stick it out on treadmills for all your runs! I commend you. 🙂

Breakfast came in the form of overnight oats. 🙂


Last night’s mix

This morning’s toppings

  • 1 Honeycrisp Apple
  • Gingerbread Granola



What would you have done? Stuck it out in the rain or bee lined it to the treadmill?

1 michelle November 4, 2010 at 9:49 am

I had a really rainy 5miler on Monday. I usually try and stick out the rain. I live in WA so rain is frequent and if I skipped out everytime, I would spend way too many hours on the treadmill and probably start to hate running.

2 Kelly November 4, 2010 at 9:49 am

I would have used the treadmill, running in the rain sucks, I got enough of that in high school. I did a 7 mile tempo on the treadmill last night, it was BORINGGG.

3 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat November 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

I am a treadmill runner and typically do most of my runs indoors – even if it’s nice outside. I’ll be the first to admit that it does get a bit boring though, so this morning I put together a 1-hour workout for myself on the treadmill, bike and stepper. It was tough!! (You can check it out here: I figured if my body was getting bored, I was probably used to the runs I was doing. It was a very welcomed change!! 🙂
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4 Amanda (Eating Up) November 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

I hate the treadmill too! I always tell myself this is why I don’t run very often–I live in Chicago in the fall and winter. It’s kind of hard to run and sidestep the ice and snow.
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5 Jessica@tastyandtrim November 4, 2010 at 9:51 am

If the weather was stinky I probably would’ve headed to the treadmill too. I always have a way harder time running on the treadmill though because it makes one mile feel like 3! It’s always a nice backup though when weather prevents me from running outdoors!
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6 Cate November 4, 2010 at 9:53 am

I probably would have headed to the treadmill too. The dark and rainy thing is a bit scary running outside. Running on the treadmill isn’t too bad, especially if you can watch some good TV while doing it! Although I totally get that a longer run could get boring on a treadmill.
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7 Lee November 4, 2010 at 9:55 am

Treadmill, definitely treadmill. Although I prefer running outside, I am not a fan of running the elements. I can do about 8 on the treadmill before I am dying of boredom.

8 Marina November 4, 2010 at 9:56 am

I prefer being dry and warm during my workouts, so it’s treadmill for me. although it really is boring 😀
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9 CMae November 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

I really don’t mind a treadmill run! I work out at the YMCA, and there is plenty of people-watching to keep me entertained while I run. I try to run on an incline to mimic the Atlanta hills, and I turn off my iPod, too. I make it as boring as possible — mental training for tough races!
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10 KJ November 4, 2010 at 10:08 am

I live in Vancouver and it seems like it rains 70% of the year… I run outside, a little rain never hurts, and once you’re actually out in it, it’s actually fun; a reminder of childhood puddle jumping!

11 RunningOnCoffee November 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

I don’t belong to the gym right now, so my only option is outside! I tough it out without a gym membership until it gets cold, then I join for the winter — & over the summer…when it was too hot to run outside sometimes. (and as it’s my grad school alma mater’s gym – memberships are through the end of semesters, and if you join mid-semester it’s prorated. I love it).

I’m not a fan of the treadmill at all, and use it sparingly. Usually I can only do 3 or 4 miles before getting bored out of my mind, but I have sucked it up and done as much as 7.25 miles on the treadmill once this summer!

I am supposed to do 5 miles of speedwork today, and it’s raining with no end in sight. At least it’s 50 out, it could be colder! I see it as an opportunity to wear my new Lululemon Run: Inspire jacket 🙂
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12 RunningOnCoffee November 4, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I was wrong – my plan called for a 5 mi tempo run. So I did it, outside, in 49F & rain. Managed to avoid puddles. Enjoyed it!!
RunningOnCoffee recently posted..Recipe- Curried Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

13 Kiran November 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

Treadmill of course! I am so used to it now 🙂 The weather in Orlando is getting unpredictable 😉
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14 Lou November 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

It depends on the type of rain. It’s light enough that you only feel a mist when you’re running then definitely outside. But if it’s raining hard enough that your shoes are going need to be dried out, the treadmill it is.
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15 Geneviève November 4, 2010 at 10:22 am

This is one dilemma I am currently going trough. I can usually suck it up in a light-medium rain, but it’s the cold that I just can’t handle… (I’m in Canada and we are quickly approaching 5 degrees Farenheit here). I absolutely loathe the treadmill and try to cover up the clock with a towel but end up sneaking peaks the entire time to see how much time I have left… Arg…

16 Becca November 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

I tried last saturday… my first run in a very long time, plus cold canadian winter wind blasting me… THEN it started to rain/snow? Yeah, I called it quits after 3k lol
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17 Laura November 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

I had the same dilemma this morning. I only had a recovery run planned, but I usually always head out no matter what the weather. I feel like a beast when I come back in from a ridiculously crappy-weather run! (I also don’t have the option of a treadmill, so it’s outside or nothing!)

18 kelly November 4, 2010 at 10:27 am

I kinda like running in the rain and hate running on the tread mill, so I’d run outside 🙂
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19 Lacey @ Lake Life November 4, 2010 at 10:29 am

I think that’s the reason there are more runners in warmer climates. It was 38 degrees and raining this morning in NY!
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20 Biz November 4, 2010 at 10:32 am

I actually don’t mind the rain at all – I haven’t been sick in probably 15 years? (of course, just typing that I’ve jinxed myself!).

It reminds me of my fall field hockey days of playing in the rain – love it!
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21 Tab- Just Weighing In November 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

I saw a runner last night at 11:00 in the pouring rain and one word came to mind: “crazy.” So I would go for the treadmill. 🙂
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22 BroccoliHut November 4, 2010 at 11:02 am

Same exact situation for me this morning. I was super-psyched to get out there with my new Garmin (just arrived), only to discover that it was raining! I trudged over to the treadmill and managed to eek out 6.5 miles, thanks to the Today Show:)
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23 Hannah (Running In Freedom) November 4, 2010 at 11:09 am

I had to hit the treadmill today too. 🙁 It was only 3.5 miles, but it felt soo much longer. At least it makes me appreciate the beauty of the outdoors when I get to run outside!
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24 Stefanie November 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

I am one of those people who doesn’t mind the treadmill. Probably because I catch up on shows and/or blast my iPod so it goes by quickly!

That being said, I’ve never done more than 4 miles on the treadmill, so that may play a part!
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25 Krystina November 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

I actually prefer running on the treadmill to outside. I’m not sure why, but it’s easier for me and I find myself running a longer distance indoors.
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26 Michele @ Healthy Cultivations November 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

I’m definitely more of a treadmill kind of person if I’m alone and it’s raining. But if with someone else, it’s kind of fun to be in the rain.

27 Dorry November 4, 2010 at 11:37 am

I’m like you – I would have really wanted to run outdoors but I think you made the smart decision! I’ve never run more than 4 on a treadmill…but I’ve just been running for 4 or 5 months. 🙂
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28 Amy K. @ Onehealthypeanut November 4, 2010 at 11:49 am

I had the same dilemma yesterday but fortunately there was a pause in the downpour during my run. Sometime I can stick it out but combined with darkness and COLD usually send me to the treadmill!
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29 Kelly November 4, 2010 at 11:55 am

I’m having this same internal conflict today…do I run in the cold rain after work or do I suck it up and do it in the warm (but crowded and boring) gym on a treadmill instead. Decisions, decisions…
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30 Britt @ Runnerbelle November 4, 2010 at 11:57 am

Warm rain, I’m usually okay. Cold rain, that is when I have the debate. I am having it today. I knew I couldn’t do the early AM run today…. so now I have all day to debate what to do while I am at work. Its low 40’s here and raining…. bbbrrrr! I think I might try to do 3 miles outside after work…. we will see.

31 Ali November 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Ugh! I know the feeling! I had to run on the dreadmill last night and will have to do it again today since it is freezing out and poring. Anything over 3 miles on a treadmill feels like torture to me! I am excited to run outside in San Fransisco in the warmer weather this weekend 🙂
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32 Rebekah @Rebeltarian November 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

treadmill…i am a wuss.
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33 Rae November 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I would have done the rain and totally gotten sick. Aside from speedwork, I cant run more than 2 miles on the ‘mill to save my soul. Youre braver than I am!

34 katie November 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

if it was light out while i was running in the rain then i would totally do it. but running in the dark and while its raining is dangerous. you made a good choice!

35 Evan Thomas November 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I just got done with 10 miles on the treadmill. I’m glad to say I’m someone who doesn’t dislike(I wanted to say “loves” here but let’s stick with doesn’t dislike) running inside. If you give me an ipod and the Today Show to watch then I’m good to go

36 Matt November 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I probably would have stuck it out. I had to ride 20 minutes home yesterday in the freezing wind and rain. Worst 20 minutes of my life! Felt good to suck it up though 🙂
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37 Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday November 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I do the treadmill all the time. It’;s not so bad. You can watch TV!
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38 emily November 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I like the treadmill! My runs are pretty short, so I don’t have much time to get bored anywhere, but it’s nice to have a spot for all my stuff (water, music, etc).

39 Rachel November 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm

For 6 miles…I don’t know what I would have done. I guess it depends on how hard it was raining! I get bored after 15 minutes on a treadmill so I might go to the gym and mix it up with a little treadmill, some elliptical, and some biking.
When it’s wet but not too cold I’m totally happy to run in the rain. It’s the cold that gets me!
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40 Alina @ Duty Free Foodie November 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I would definitely have chosen the treadmill!

Sometimes I count to 100 over and over again. Yes, it’s boring, but it’s also kind of meditative. I learned this trick from a coworker and it sometimes takes me through the really boring phases. Of course it’s not as fun as running outside, but at least you don’t freeze to death.
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41 RunningOnCoffee November 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I thought I was weird for doing it, but I do the counting thing sometimes too… On the treadmill, I have counted to figure out how many times one foot hits the ground per one hundredth of a mile. Then I know how many steps til I get to some mileage milestone. (i.e. 2.85–>3 = 15 hundredths x 8 strides, so I’d count to 140! It’s a little better than staring at the display for that time and watching it slowly tick up. On longer runs outside when I brought a water bottle along, I would switch which hand I carried it in once I got to 100. You have to do something to entertain yourself on solo runs!
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42 Mia November 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I love the treadmill, I’ve run 10 miles on the treadmill before. I feel much safer at the gym than running around my neighborhood at 6 in the morning. In the summer time, I run outside a lot more, but as soon as day light savings ends it’s all about the gym for me.

43 Kim @ Kim Lives Healthy November 4, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I got caught in the rain last night too! About 2 miles into a 3.5 miler, and I tried to convince the fiancee to hide out in Publix with me until it was over, but instead we walked the whole way home in the rain – he said it made him feel “closer to nature” and it forced us to slow down and talk more 🙂 I’d take a slow rainy walk over the treadmill!
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44 Allison November 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm

If it was just rain, I would be outside in a heartbeat. I kind of enjoy running in the rain, not a downpour of course. But the dark kind of clinches my decision to run on a treadmill. The best way for me to get through a treadmill workout is simply to daydream the time away!
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45 Maria @ Oh Healthy Day November 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. I feel like sometimes the treadmill runs me rather than me running on it. But, at the same time, I can get lost in my thoughts (one of my favorite things about running), and I avoid all the hazards of running outside (heat, sunlight, traffic, pavement, etc.). I therefore keep a good mixture of treadmill training and outdoor training.

46 Sarah-Mae @ Eat, Run, Knit November 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I’m in the Navy and ended up deployed for three months pre-marathon. I was NOT backing away from my training though… which meant running on the Dreadmill six days a week, between 45 minutes to 3:30. The worst part? It’s in a warship… so you stare at a blank metal wall the whole time… while the ship is moving.

I agree, people who CHOOSE to run on the treadmill instead of outside are nuts, and very very determined ^_^

47 Lauren @ Running Examiner November 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm

After reading these posts, I’m glad to see that I’m not the only person who doesn’t mind the treadmill 🙂 I find the treadmill to be SO conducive to speed work, and I’m also less apt to suffer from IT band flare-ups if I incorporate treadmill running into my routine.

That being said…long runs on the treadmill can be dreadful. I don’t typically run more than 8 or 9 miles at the gym. (Though I once did 13…that was pretty damn boring).
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48 kathleen November 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

It would depend on what kind of mood I was in. Also, what the temperature was. 40 degrees and rain is much different than 60 degrees and rain.,
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49 JunieB November 4, 2010 at 1:17 pm

this was my dilemma yesterday. i ran outside and so glad i did. best run since Chicago so i was happy!

50 Laurab @ foodsnobstl November 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Definitely would run on the treadmill. I can run on it forever as long as I can watch tv while doing it.
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51 D November 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I LOVE the treadmill! Now that I’ve started training for a marathon, I try to at least run my long runs outside, but I don’t like it at all! I trained for my first 10k entirely on a treadmill, and have done 95% of my runs on one since. It’s convenient to know your exact pace and distance (I’ve got a Garmin but it’s not GPS, just a foot pod, so I’m a little unsure sometimes), nice to have a place to put water, keys, ipod, etc, and I think it REALLY builds mental toughness! It’s easy to just hop off the treadmill when you’re bored, but it takes a lot of determination to run 12 miles on one!

52 Casey November 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I prefer to run outside but I think the darker days and cold weather are going to force me inside to the treadmill…I don’t run outside without being able to see lots of others doing the same thing (I’m super cautious about safety) so running the dark/alone doesn’t happen. So to the treadmill it is.

Meghann (or anyone else!), do you think a couple months of treadmill running will be detrimental to my running-outside endurance? 🙁 I’ve heard it might.

53 Corey @ The Runner's Cookie November 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Depends on the day for me! Sometimes I’m in the mood to just zone out with some TV on the treadmill, and other days I can’t even imagine it. When I’m marathon training I do 95% of my running outside because it’s important to me to have that quality training (the treadmill does not work your leg and feet muscles the same way). And I like to experience all weather conditions – you never know what it will be like on race day is what I always remind myself!

54 Lisa November 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Last year I was training for Hood to Coast and the weather was NOT cooperating for most of winter and spring. The rain in Portland is nasty and not fun. I avoided running outside a lot but finally just sucked it up. I was bored with the treadmill and it’s NOT the same workout as running outside. With a hat and jacket (and immediate shower afterward) it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be.
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55 Karen November 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Hi Meg! Love your blog, hate the treadmill!!! I avoid it like the plague, however, I live in the Northeast so once it’s snowing and cold I am usually left with little choice. I would have opted for the ‘mill today though! Keep on training 🙂

56 Emily November 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I think the addition of the dark skies would have sent me running for the treadmill. I actually enjoy running in (light, warm) rain but dark + wet definitely =creepy. And I’m with you on the treadmill hatred. If I had to do every run on the ‘mill there is no way I would still be an endurance runner!
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57 Lauren November 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I started running on treadmills because I was afraid of hills. And I have to say, not all treadmills are created equally. There are TVs on the one at my gym where I can control what I watch. Also to past the time, I usually listen to my iPod and “commit” to running for a certain amount of time, so I can try and zone out for a few minutes. Another treadmill running trick is to change your speeds based on when songs change. That has really helped me pass the time because I have a few different things to be thinking about while I’m running in the same spot.

Now that I’m not afraid of hills, I try to run outside to mimic actual running conditions like wind, rain, hills, etc. That said, I do not mine knocking out 6-8 miles on a treadmill if necessary. I have a marathon coming up and I don’t want to risk getting sick or slipping and falling.

58 Meghan November 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Run in the rain. You won’t get sick. I’m from Portland I love running in the cold, rainy weather. I even used to, at times, run in the rain with glasses (and no hat. you really gotta want it). Buy a good hat. That’s all you need. You will not get sick from it. Trust me. That’s like saying you’d get sick from taking a shower.
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59 Lauren November 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I’ve gotten sick after running in the rain several times.

60 Meghan November 4, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Getting a cold stems from catching the germs from someone else. Sometimes it can be caused by other things like Vitamin D deficiency or lack of sleep. Being cold is not a cause of a cold. Nor is being wet. The flu is the same way.
Meghan recently posted..Giveaways

61 Lauren November 5, 2010 at 8:49 am

Right, but you are more likely to catch said germs when you run outside in the rain. Germs are everywhere, not just on people. You also are making yourself more susceptible to catching germs when you expose yourself to the elements.

62 Lauren November 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

I like rain-running, but maybe you have a strong immune system and mine is weak. I think it also depends on the other conditions of the day – is it summer rain or fall rain or winter rain? Is it icy? Is it hilly where you are running? Are there leaves everywhere? Is it windy? Will leaves or cut grass be blowing into my lungs? Or will rain be soaking my face? Will germs from the dirt or from dead animals be in the water as I run through it as it splashes onto my legs? There are just a lot of factors other than the rain itself that contribute to what makes you sick if you run in the rain.

63 Lisa November 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Some of my best runs have been in the pouring rain! It’s good to occasionally run in adverse weather just in case you run up against same in an upcoming race. Get a hat, never wear a cotton tee shirt, and you’ll be fine!

I trained for a marathon on the treadmill – at the time, I loved it for the tv watching, convenience of bathrooms, etc. but now that I’ve been running outside most of the time, I see a big difference in how I run on and off. Truthfully, speed work is easier for me outside – I push myself more (as opposed to being pulled).
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64 natalie (the sweets life) November 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm

some days i’m wimpy, some days i’m not. i ran my 22 mile training run for chicago in the pouring ran. once i was out there i was NOT giving up (started at 4 am for it too)…and now when i think back i’m like, what? i did that? ha!

see you this weekend, i’ll be at FB 🙂
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65 Amanda Davis November 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I also hate the treadmill (the irony is it’s all I did before I started running outside and now all I want to do is run outside). I’ve been facing a similar dilemma not with the rain but with the cold weather and darkness, so far I’ve been sucking and bundling up but it hasn’t hit below freezing yet either. I hope to keep running outside as much as possible but I’m just not sure.
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66 Sarah @ EatRunGarden November 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I kind of like running in the rain as long as it’s not to cold anything below 60 and I start to change my mind about how nice a rainy run can be but running in the dark adds another challenge to a rainy run. At least you have the option for a treadmill some people don’t so at that point they have to make the decision to run or not to run. 🙂
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67 Amanda November 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I walk ~2 miles outside every morning, hot or cold, wet or dry, snow or not. We get it all in Michigan. The only thing that stops me is lightening. I have rain paints, snow pants, baseball caps, fleece hats, the works. It’s all about layers and a dose of stubbornness since I don’t have a treadmill. On the really rough days, I take it as a challenge to conquer Mother Nature and win. 🙂

68 Juli D. November 4, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I’m also way more a fan of running outside than inside – but when the ice and snow and cold and darkness are too much I’ve gotta use the treadmill. At first I had the same negative attitude – but it makes it worse! I try to stay positive about the treadmill and it’s more more enjoyable – any run is better than no run, right?
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69 Emily November 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I would probably have stuck it out. I’ve watched movies while trying to survive 13 miles on the treadmill. That didn’t really help much. I just don’t like staring at the same wall for an hour or so. And plus + I love running in the rain if there’s not a whole lot of wind! Soft falling snow is even better. Probably cause I’m a west coast girl… 🙂 One of the colder states.
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70 Monica C. November 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Treadmill, definitely!

There was a time when I thought I had to brave the elements to prove what a “real runner” I was, but I am so over that.

I did a 9 mile tempo run on the TM today. In training for this marathon, I did 18 miles on the TM. That was extreme, but this summer in Dallas was brutal and I needed a break from the weather!
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71 Thetreadmilldiaries November 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I’m with you. I’ll do treadmills when there’s no other choice but I prefer to run outside if I can. I’ll even head out when it’s dark or sprinkling. But if it’s raining hard like today, I’ll hit the gym. Unfortunately, my treadmill sessions tend to be shorter than my usual outdoor runs. But I make sure I hit my minimum daily mileage needed for my weekly goal.
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72 Samantha November 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Way to stick it out on the treadmill!

Me…I’ll ALWAYS pick running in the rain over running on the TM. In fact, I said outloud to myself during this mornings 7 miler that I wish ALL my runs on Guam could be in the rain because the humidity here stifles my asthmatic lungs. My first 19 miler during marathon training a few years back was in a torrential downpour, ALL of it. And it was blissful! On the flip side, I’ve done 13 miles on the treadmill when I had both my kids home from school on spring break. It was absolutely misery!

Give me outdoors with most any kind of weather (minus hot and humid!)…rain, snow, whatever, and I’ll chose that over the mill anyday!

73 rebecca lustig November 4, 2010 at 9:46 pm

i actually like being in the rain (if its not too cold). something so refreshing and empowering about it for me!
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74 Heather November 5, 2010 at 7:22 am

I would have stuck it out in the rain – I love running in the rain! Treadmills are not really my friend…….haha…..
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