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Treadmill VS Trail

03 October 2022

10 things that make the gym unbearable.


There are some perfectly good reasons for running on a treadmill. A monsoon, plague of locusts, or one of those pesky Sharknados, for example. Any other time, though, the choice is clear. No matter what the weather’s like on the trail, running outside still beats the “dreadmill” hands down. Here are 10 reasons we avoid the gym at all costs, and why we’re grateful to have the trail instead.


The not-so-fresh air

A huge part of running outside is taking in the smell of nature: dirt, grass, flowers in spring, and crisp fallen leaves in autumn. Compare that to the air at most gyms—sweaty, stale, and sauna-like, even in the dead of winter. Plus, running in place on a treadmill doesn’t quite have the same cooling effect as running outside with the wind in your hair—especially if the machine doesn’t have its own fan.



Broken TV’s

At least when you work out at the gym you can catch up on TV without the couch-potato guilt. But doesn’t it always seem like the only available treadmill is the one that’s showing static on every channel? And even when you get a working television, the picture’s so small it’s almost not worth watching.


Whirr whirr, thunk thunk

Unless you’re drowning it out with Beyoncé, running on a motorised hamster wheel comes with its own soundtrack, and not a particularly pleasant one. We’ll take the pitter-patter of trainers on the trail any day.


Crowded change rooms

There’s nothing like ending a workout with a sub-par shower and an eyeful of ‘Hairy Naked Guy’ chilling on the bench with your gym bag. At least at the trailhead, people strip down in the semi-privacy of their own cars.



Sweaty neighbours

You can run for hours through the woods and pass just a handful of people—and because you’re all moving at different paces, it’s unlikely you’ll be stuck with any one person for too long. At the gym, no such luck. Whether you wind up on a machine next to Sweat-spraying Steve, Competitive Carla, Grunting Gus, or Chatty Cathy, chances are you’ll be with them for the long haul.


The monthly fee

Not only is the treadmill a form of voluntary torture, but it’s one you actually have to pay to use! Just think of all the new trail shoes and gear you could buy with that membership charge that’s tacked onto your credit card each month.


Fear of falling

Tripping over rocks and roots on the trail is a given: It happens so often, fellow runners will offer you a hand while barely blinking an eye. Falling off a treadmill is a different story—one that can leave you bruised, bloodied, and tossed backward off the belt at frightening speed. It’s not a pretty sight, and an embarrassing one at that.



No destination

On the trail, every twist and turn provides a different vantage point and your stopping points will certainly look different than your starting one. Maybe you’re running to a lake, a beautiful overlook, or a picnic area for your “lunch” of bars and gels. On the treadmill, the only scenery you’ve got is typically a wall or the sweaty back of the person in front of you. And without a destination to run toward, the journey’s not as fun either.


The power drain

Anyone who’s conscientious about turning off the lights when they leave a room or keeping the windows closed when the heat’s on can probably sense the futility in powering up a huge machine for hours on end each day. Especially considering that gym users can get in a better and more refreshing workout by running outside.


The 30-minute rule

So you manage to drag yourself to the gym and overlook the first nine things on this list, and maybe you’re even getting in a decent workout. But no sooner do you get warmed up than the clock hits 30 minutes and the angry gym attendant starts tapping his watch at you. Crowded fitness clubs are notorious for enforcing time limits on popular machines, which usually includes treadmills, especially during rush hours. The trail, on the other hand, is open all day, every day, with no one to tell you when your time is up.


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