Treadmill Running

A wet and windy winter in Canberra has meant we have either spent less days out on the track or it’s driven us indoors to the dreaded treadmill to get in the kilometres. It begs the question; What is the best way to get a good run out of the treadmill? How do we get a good quality treadmill run done without driving ourselves totally mad?

For the last three years I have been confined to treadmill running while travelling with international golf tours and these are some of the things I have discovered along the way:

  1. Incline

Use the incline on the treadmill to ensure you get the most out of your run. Often people get sore shins from running on the treadmill and this can be because the surface is too flat. Running at 1% on the treadmill makes the surface more similar to that of the footpath and can help prevent shin pain. Using incline means that your run translates better from treadmill to road running and your pace on the treadmill will be similar to your pace outdoors.

  1. Intervals

Interval sessions are a blessing for those of us slugging it out on the treadmill. Keep your intervals short and sharp and make your treadmill runs more interesting by breaking it up into small pieces. An example of a treadmill interval session might be:

  • 5-10 min jog warm up
  • (2 mins hard running / 1 min easy running / 1 min really hard / 2 mins easy ) repeated 3 or 4 times
  • 5- 10 min jog / walk cool down

This way your focus is on the next two minutes or the next one minute and not on the slow tick of the km, the time or the today show in the background.

  1. Intensity

Treadmill sessions can be great for pushing yourself to sustain a set intensity. When running intervals on the road you might find that by the last 30 seconds you are slowing down as you near the recovery phase. The treadmill doesn’t allow this (unless you reach for the speed button) and you have to maintain intensity throughout the run. Use the treadmill to get this increased intensity as there are no ‘downhill’ easy phases of the run.

  1. Variation

Vary your treadmill session. Set out your plan before you get on and decide what your aim is for each session. If you plan to have multiple treadmill runs in a week then an example may be making one speed work, one longer intervals and one hills. The incline is not only a good way to make the treadmill similar to the outdoors but it can be used to make a challenging hill workout to spice up your time on the treadmill.

An example of a hill session could be:

  • 5-10 min warm up
  • 2 mins @ 3% incline / 2 mins flat
  • 2 mins @ 4% incline / 2 mins flat
  • 2 mins @ 5 % incline / 2 mins flat
  • 2 mins @ 6 % incline / 2 mins flat
  • 5-10 mins cool down

You can choose your pace for the incline but I encourage people to push as hard as they can for the effort phase provided they are maintaining a good upright run technique. You can decide if you want to walk the flat bits or do an easy jog to cool down. Remember that running uphill is a challenge and hills should be added to any run program in a graduated manner.

In summary, don’t dread the treadmill! Use it as an opportunity to run faster or mix up your training, focus on your technique, speed and even add some hills.