As a rule, I have always preferred to run outside versus being on the treadmill.
But, over this past winter, I've done the vast majority of my runs on "The Beast". On the one hand, I've felt that I've been soft and just "wussing out" and avoiding a long string of crappy weather.
But then, my rational side takes over and I realize that I'm really trying to be smart about my training. First off, without driving into Plains or Thomspons Falls (18 & 30 mile round trips respectively), I've got very limited run options during the winter. (And, in the spirit of being environmentally and fiscally responsible, I try to limit my driving into town to run to 1 or 2 days a week.) I basically have the 2-lane highway with narrow shoulders. Lots of truck and semi traffic at high speeds. With the snow and ice this winter, the FS roads are a bit of a challenge and the trails are pretty much un-runnable. So, the treadmill allows me to be a whole lot safer than being out tempting the traffic or icy trails.
Second, although my knee is coming along nicely, it still is less than 100%. And, I've found that the treadmill gives me a consistent, uniform, soft surface that puts a lot less stress on my knee. When I'm on the roads every day, the knee tends to get a bit tender, which then makes me alter my stride, which then tends to throw the whole mechanics off (I really noticed this after running on the roads in Miami for a week right after the first of the year). Being on the treadmill actually seems to be helping the overall strengthening, stability and range of motion of my knee. So, again, it seems to be that running on the treadmill is the smarter choice.
So, perhaps I am getting old and soft - But, it also seems like I'm getting smarter (okay, for me getting smarter is relative - I'm still pretty much of a moron; but, perhaps a little less so after choosing the treadmill this winter).
See you on the roads, tracks and trails (and - for now - treadmills)
The Muddy Buzzard