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A trail aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort provides runners with an outlet to outdoor activity vice indoor training. Training outdoors provide benefits to runners that are difficult to simulate in an indoor training environment.

Photo by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez

Running outside box

4 Oct 2013 | Sgt. Marcy Sanchez

While double-knotting my running shoes at 5:45 a.m., I plan out my running strategy; five mph pace for five minutes then increase to 8.5 mph for three miles. It’s easy as I stare at the beaming red dis play of numerals to tell how fast to go, how far I’ve gone and how much time has passed. As I stare at images of violence and politics on the multiple monitors featuring 24-hour news broadcast, I catch dark skies behind massive windows lightening by a waking sun.

Why am I inside on a treadmill when I could be outside on trails?

To some it’s a decision of wheth er to battle the elements of nature while dodging oblivious drivers and sometimes even outrunning off-leash dogs, or staring at multiple televisions while the guy next to you walks and reads.

But there is something more than fresh air that comes from training outside.

A study by the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found that most adults showed an im provement in mental well-being compared with exercising indoors exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement to gether with decreases in tension confusion, anger and depression Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.

To back the results of the study research at West Virginia University found that taking your cardio training outdoors makes you 52 percent more likely to exercise frequently.

"The message is clear," said Paul Gordon, Ph.D., the study's lead author. "Don't force yourself to work out in a gym when you can better tolerate running outside."

Aside from feeling better mentally, the variable landscape that nature provides affects the muscles that are exercised vice a flat cushioned platform on a treadmill. 2008 study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise, determined that runners adopt different running patterns when they're on treadmills, such as landing a little more flat-footed Grass, dirt and sand provide un even surfaces for runners, which allows the body to work the full range of muscles, joints and ten dons for a more challenging and comprehensive workout.

“I rarely ever run on a treadmill [I run] either on the road or on the track,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Remshak, executive officer of Combat Logistics Company 23. “To me personally, it has to do with pacing and running form. When you’re on a treadmill you really don’t get chance to react to how you’re pacing when you’re going up a hill down a hill.”

Another shortcoming of the treadmill is the ability to stimulate muscles the way nature does. The fitness website,, gives an example of this shortcoming with speed. According the website, the common treadmill’s max speed of 12 mph is slower than most runners’ sprinting speed, making it difficult to simulate sprints of short and fast intervals. If you have ever sprinted on a track you can imagine trying to simulate going from 50 percent effort to 100 percent on a treadmill.

“Running over grass can be very helpful for anybody who is training,” said Remshak, a native of Franklin, Wis. “I think you have to start building up slowly. Running out on the road is more of a mental than a physical challenge.”

Remshak, an avid runner, runs about 15 miles per week and says some of the challenges that come with training outside involve the elements.

“When you’re outside you have to deal with wind, humidity, heat and the elements out there, I think those are all challenges that can benefit somebody in the long run,” said Remshak.

To combat the forces of nature, Remshak suggests dressing appropriately with breathable layers and building your tolerance to, nature’s elements by starting at a shorter distance than you would normally run.

Although lacking some elements of outdoor training, running on , treadmills is more beneficial than other activities and to some it’s the only option.

“I think living here in Beaufort, the humidity makes it harder to run outdoors for some people,” said Kelly Colon, a Semper Fit personal trainer at MCAS Beaufort.

 Colon says some benefits of treadmills include a safe environment for clients with asthma to train. Other benefits include hard goals that clients can set including speed and distance, which can be adjusted on treadmills allowing the treadmill to do the thinking.

Adjustments to the treadmill, to give them a near-natural run, should also be considered if running inside.

“A lot of novice runners don’t get on treadmills, they can’t find their equilibrium,” said Quincy Terry, a Semper Fit personal trainer and group fitness instructor. “You have to break them in.”

Terry suggests runners who are new to the treadmill should start. with at least a three percent incline to simulate flat ground outdoors.

“If you’re goal is to run three miles in 25 minutes, outdoors your mind might wander and you might not get to your goal, but if you set the treadmill to run three miles in , 25 minutes, you’re going to keep that pace,” said Terry. “There is no slowing down because if you slow down you might find yourself on , the bike behind you all of a sudden.”

The Marine Corps’ Fitness Readiness Guide website offers a plethora of exercises to be executed outside or inside a controlled environment. For more information on training outdoors or indoors, visit, or contact the MCAS Beaufort Fitness Center at 228-7192.