Join Date: Apr 2005
Bikes: 2006 Cannondale R800
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The treadmill is easier on your body than pavement. All the flexing that the treadmill does every time your foot strikes is the result of energy that your body would have absorbed on pavement. Since the treadmill is absorbing that energy, your body is not.
Running on incline is also easier on your body. Most of the impact energy placed on your body comes from your "landing." Since you are not "falling" as far from the top of your leg stroke until your foot impacts the pavement, the amount of energy absorbed by your body is reduced.
Inclined running is probably a little more helpful for your tri's than flat, but it's best if you do intervals. If you don't ever run faster than your race pace, you will never actually get faster. You'll just run the same run split but feel less tired at the end.
Basically, if I'm doing intervals, I try my best to do it on hills so the effect on my joints is reduced.