My Favorite Treadmill Workouts

Like most runners, I get very bored when running on a treadmill.

But during the winter, it can be unbearable or dangerous to run outside. Especially if you want to run fast to get a good workout in.

Here are some of the workouts that I do to make the time pass a little faster while running to nowhere.

Treadmill Timed Intervals

I don’t like doing treadmill workouts based on distance, because, unless you have a treadmill at your house and calibrated it, it would be very rare to find a treadmill that is actually calibrated correctly.

Instead I like to do workouts based on time, alternating between hard and easy intervals in some arbitrary format that I’ve decided for that day.

Sometimes I get lucky enough that the treadmill I’m using has options to program intervals in so I don’t have to frantically change the speed while spinning my legs under me.

The length of the hard portions relative to the easy portions is determined by how hard the hard portions are.

For example, if I’m doing intervals around 5k-pace or faster the hard:easy ratio might be 1:1 (i.e, 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy) or 4:3.

If I’m doing intervals around 10-k pace, I might go with a 2:1 or 3:1 hard:easy ratio.

And, when I’m talking about 5-K or 10-K pace, I mean the pace that I think I could run if I were to race that day. Not my goal pace. Not someone else’s goal pace. Not even necessarily the pace I ran last Saturday.

In all cases, I always make sure the first interval is a bit slower than I think I can go. And, then I increase as need-be throughout the workout.

This is for 2 reasons:

  1. If the treadmill is calibrated so that it is too fast, I don’t kill myself on the first interval.
  2. Even, if I’m running outside, I always want my first interval to be the slowest and my last interval the fastest.

5K-pace interval workout

  1. Warm-up for 10 minutes at an easy pace.
  2. Increase speed to 5K-pace. Run for 2 minutes.
  3. Decrease speed to easy pace. Run for 2 minutes.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 eight to ten times.
  5. Cool down at an easy pace for 10 minutes.

Make it harder

Run the 5-k pace repeats for 4 minutes and the easy repeats for 3 minutes. Do 4-5 repeats.

Make it easier

Run the 5-k pace repeats for 1 minutes and the easy repeats for 1 minute. Do 15-20 repeats.

10K-pace interval workout

  1. Warm-up for 10 minutes at an easy pace.
  2. Increase speed to 10K-pace. Run for 3 minutes.
  3. Decrease speed to easy pace. Run for 1 minute.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 five to eight times.
  5. Cool down at an easy pace for 10 minutes.

Make it harder

Run the 10-k pace repeats for 4 minutes and the easy repeats for 1 minute. Do 4-7 repeats.

Make it easier

Run the 10-k pace repeats for 2 minutes and the easy repeats for 1 minute. Do 7-10 repeats.

Treadmill Progressive Tempo

People have varying definitions for what a “tempo run” is.

But for distance runners they all come down to running at a fairly high speed for a fairly long time.

This is the exact sort of thing that is mentally difficult on a treadmill.

I try to make it less boring, by giving myself something to look forward to (pressing a button) every minute or so.

The Workout

  1. Start at a very slow pace on the treadmill. (2 mph slower than your normal easy pace).
  2. Increase the speed by 0.1 mph every thirty seconds for ten minutes.
  3. Increase the speed by 0.1 mph every minute for fifteen minutes.
  4. Increase the speed by 0.1 mph every 90 seconds for fifteen minutes.
  5. Decrease the speed to your easy pace and cool down for ten minutes.

For example, for me I would start the treadmill at 5.5 mph. After 10 minutes of increasing every 30 seconds, I would be running 7.5 mph. After fifteen minutes of increasing every minute, I would be running 9 mph. And, by the end of the fifteen minutes of 90 second increases I would be running 9.9 mph before decreasing back down to 7.5 mph.

Make it harder

For the last 90 seconds in step 4, increase the speed by 0.1 mph every ten seconds.

Make it easier

Start slow and just increase the speed by 0.1 mph every minute for 20-30 minutes.

Treadmill Hills

The one area that the treadmill can be really helpful even if it’s nice enough to run outside is for hill workouts.

Some people live in areas where hills are not accessible.

Even if you have hills, you can really beat up your legs running back down the hills.

Treadmills that have incline settings solve both problems.

There are limitless possibilities out there, but my favorite workout is hill intervals with relatively fast, flat recoveries.

It gets your body used to recovering at a fairly high speed, which increases your ability to hold pace late in a race.

It is good for late stages of half-marathon or marathon training.

The Workout

  1. Warm-up by starting at an easy pace and over the course of 15 minutes gradually work up to what feels like marathon effort (for me this is usually a few tenths in mph slower than marathon pace).
  2. Run at marathon effort for 5 minutes at 0% incline.
  3. Without changing the speed of the treadmill, increase the incline to 5-6%. Run uphill for 1 minute.
  4. Without changing the speed of the treadmill, decrease the incline to 0%. Run for 3 minutes.
  5. Repeat steps three and four 4-6x.
  6. Cool-down at an easy speed for 10 minutes.

Make it harder

Increase the hill length to 90 seconds.

Make it easier

Set the speed of the treadmill at your normal easy pace rather than marathon effort.

 

 

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: