By Emily Cotton 

This time of year the weather is rubbish. You wake up in the morning, it’s cold, the clouds are grey and it’s drizzling. It’s hardly the weather to make you jump up and out of bed and hit the gym, let alone go outside for a run.

For me, the thought of going for a run outside seems like a lot of effort. But once, I’m actually running, I almost enjoy it. And once I’ve finished, there’s almost a sense of achievement. This feeling however isn’t quite the same on a treadmill. The sense of achievement is still there when I’ve finished, when I’ve completed the distance or time I set myself, but the enjoyment isn’t. So why do I still choose to go for my long runs on a treadmill over going outside?

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To put it simply, because I can run faster on a treadmill and that makes me feel better. Over the past year, there have been 3 days when I’ve got to the gym and not been able to think of something productive to do. As a result of this, I’ve jumped on a treadmill and ran 5km. Without any cardiovascular training at all, only my usual gym sessions, my fitness has improved and I’ve managed to knock almost 3 minutes off my time to 21 minutes 41 seconds.

But if you ask me to run outside, I add a good 6 or 7 minutes on to that time. But why? Why do I find it so much harder? When I look at the differences between the two types of running, I think my answer is clear. I struggle with the hills when running outside and I’m not used to the constant changes in terrain; grass, mud, concrete, gravel – my route seems to have them all. On a treadmill, I also have to keep up my pace. If i don’t? Well if I don’t, I’m going to end up going flying off the back of it, hitting my face flat on the floor or landing on top of the poor person working out on the equipment behind me. The treadmill also has the distance left for my to complete my 5km directly in front of me, flashing at me in a neon yellow, I can’t miss it. When I see its got 1km left, I up my speed. When I see its got 0.5km, I up it even more. If I was outside I’d never be able to do that. By that point outside I’m exhausted, home is on the horizon however I just can’t seem to speed myself up. On the treadmill the belt keeps me moving, outside it’s down to me to ensure I stay running at the same speed, and without the flashing neon numbers, chances are even if I think I’ve kept my pace up, fatigue has slowed me right down without realising it.

Signing myself up for Insane Terrain, means I should probably get outside more and actually practice a little. So today that is what I did. A pretty relaxed paced, 5km run. To get me back into the swing of things. It was only a little muddy, nowhere near what an obstacle race will be, and I felt myself almost slip a couple of times. Running in mud isn’t easy.

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Insane Terrain is only a fun run, but I’ll make sure I’m not the worst! 5km run if I choose it, should be easy enough. I have no doubt I can compete it. 5km with obstacles – it’ll be harder but again manageable and hopefully quite fun. However, if I choose to accept it, I have the 10km option (with the added obstacles). I’m growing to love a challenge, but I have yet to decide whether this one is a little too much for my first! Wish me luck!

Read more of Emily’s awesome travel and fitness articles here