6 Treadmill Workouts for Runners

Oh, the treadmill. Runners have a love/hate relationship with the thing. But the truth is, whether you are escaping the suffocating sweltering heat, the slippery icy roads, or can’t leave because of a sleeping baby—the treadmill is an amazing tool that can help get you fit in the convenience of your own home. And these treadmill workouts for runners will help!

Treadmills do an amazing job of allowing you to improve speed and endurance through faster paces and elevation to build strong legs, lungs, and heart.

The trouble is that people get bored on the treadmill. The antidote is variety in the form of speed and hills. That’s where I come in! I am offering you six treadmill running workouts for beginner runners and advanced runners.

Be sure to check out my articles on treadmill running tips, the best treadmill running apps and how to start running for more information to help you rock the ‘mill!

Okay, let’s go!

How do you start running on a treadmill?

To run on a treadmill, dress like you are running outside on a mild day in a t-shirt or tank and shorts. If you are using a GPS watch, be sure to record your run as a treadmill run for accuracy.

Do a warm-up and start by walking (at a speed of 2.0 to 3.0) on the treadmill until you feel comfortable and smooth with your gait.

Increase the incline to .05 or 1.0 to mimic outside terrain. (You can find a treadmill pace chart here.)

Related: Your Garmin Metrics Explained

Then gradually increase the speed until you are at a comfortable and conversational pace. The speed on the treadmill will roughly match the speed you run outside. However, many runners run faster on a treadmill because you lack air and ground resistance.

What are the best treadmill running shoes?

Because many treadmills lack the cushion that asphalt or a dirt path would have, you want cushioned running shoes. In most cases, your usual running shoes will be appropriate as treadmill running shoes.

Some brands and models I recommend for treadmill running shoes are Hoka One One Rincon 3, Brooks Ghost 14, and the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2.

Related: Hoka One One Rincon 3: A Great Shoe for Plantar Fasciitis

Is running on a treadmill easier than running outside?

treadmill-workouts
Pin these treadmill workouts for later!

Yes, running on a treadmill is easier than running outside (at least physically). The treadmill belt moves, helping your legs turnover, helping you run faster. There is also little air and ground resistance.

For this reason, you should run on a slight incline of .5 or 1.0 for your runs and change the incline and pace throughout your run to mimic hills.

Related: How Many Miles Should You Run in a Day?

Why does running on the treadmill feel harder than running outside?

Running on a treadmill can feel harder because it is mentally boring—there is little to distract you like there is running outside.

Also, if you run at the same pace and incline the whole time, it will be become taxing on your bones, joints, and muscles. Your body needs variation so that different parts work at different times.

To help make running on the treadmill easier, vary your pace and incline. This will help the body and mind deal with the monotony of treadmill running! My six workouts below help beat the treadmill boredom!

Related: Smart Treadmill Tips for Busy Mother Runners

How long should athletes run on a treadmill?

There is no limit on how long you should run on a treadmill. Many marathon runners will do their long runs of more than 20 miles on a treadmill! The trick is being a master of distraction and covering the screen so you don’t become fixated on the slowly ticking numbers. And, yes, to reiterate: vary the pace and incline to beat boredom and overly taxing your body.

Is the treadmill good for running training?

Yes! The treadmill is excellent for running training.

Running is all about consistency. If a treadmill is a tool to help you stay consistent when your schedule or weather stands in the way, then it is a smart investment. A treadmill will pay dividends in health and enjoyment.

Treadmills also allow you to easily do speed work and hill training. Because a treadmill allows you to adjust paces and incline, you can gradually increase the intensity, getting you fitter in a safe and injury-free way!

Related: How to Diagnose, Treat, and Prevent Common Running Injuries

Here are 10 pros and cons of treadmill running:

10 Pros of Running on a Treadmill

treadmill running
Pin these treadmill running tips for later.
  1. You can control speed and grade making it perfect for both beginner runners and experienced runners.
  2. You can watch TV (Netflix binge, anyone?) and movies.
  3. The bathroom is close by.
  4. The weather is always nice.
  5. You are safe to run on a treadmill any time of day or night
  6. You can run on a treadmill when your kids are sleeping or playing.
  7. Some treadmills fold up so you can store them anywhere.
  8. You don’t have to worry about packing hydration or fuel.
  9. You can talk on the phone on the treadmill and not have to worry about background noise.
  10. You can’t get lost on a treadmill.

10 Cons of Running on a Treadmill

  1. Treadmills can be expensive.
  2. Treadmills can be loud.
  3. Cheaper treadmills don’t have great cushion and can hard on the legs.
  4. Treadmills are hard to repair if broken.
  5. Expensive treadmills take up a lot of space.
  6. It’s hard to do sprints or strides on a treadmill.
  7. Treadmills don’t have wind resistance so they make running feel easier.
  8. One mile on a treadmill can feel like 5 miles.
  9. Treadmills can change your gait.
  10. Running on a treadmill is boring as to compared to outside (most people feel!).

6 Treadmill Workouts for Runners

Here are 6 treadmill workouts for runners incorporating speed and hills to make you fitter in the comfort of your own home! Most of these workouts take about an hour and are appropriate for a runner used to running at least 4 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes each session. You can abbreviate or elongate the reps based on your current level of fitness. (Check out this pace chart if you need paces).

Related: Free Training Plans from 5k to the Marathon

Treadmill Hill Workout 1

TREADMILL-WORKOUTS
Pin these treadmill workouts for runners for later!
  • Warm-up for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline
  • 6 minutes at 2 percent
  • 5 minutes at 4 percent
  • 4 minutes at 6 percent
  • 3 minutes at 8 percent
  • 2 minutes at 10 percent
  • 1 minute at 12 percent
  • Cool-down for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline

Treadmill Hill Workout 2

  • Warm-up for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline
  • 4 minutes at 6 percent incline
  • 2 minutes at 1 percent incline
  • 4 minutes at 6 percent incline
  • 2 minutes at 1 percent incline
  • 4 minutes at 6 percent incline
  • 2 minutes at 1 percent incline
  • 4 minutes at 6 percent incline
  • 2 minutes at 1 percent incline
  • Cool-down for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline

Treadmill Pyramid Workout

  • Warm-up for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline, keep incline for the workout
  • 1 minute hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 1-minute easy jog
  • 2 minutes hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 2-minute easy jog
  • 3 minutes hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 3-minute easy jog
  • 4 minutes hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 4-minute easy jog
  • 5 minutes hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 5-minute easy jog
  • 4 minutes hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 4-minute easy jog
  • 3 minutes hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 3-minute easy jog
  • 2 minutes hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 2-minute easy jog
  • 1 minute hard at 80-90 percent effort, then 1-minute easy jog
  • Cool-down for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline

Marathon Treadmill Workout

  • Warm-up for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline, keep incline for workout
  • 2 minutes at half marathon pace, 1-minute recovery jog
  • 4 minutes at marathon pace, 2-minute recovery jog
  • 3 minutes at half marathon pace, 1-minute recovery jog
  • 5 minutes at marathon pace, 2-minute recovery jog
  • 4 minutes at half marathon pace, 1-minute recovery jog
  • 6 minutes at marathon pace, 2-minute recovery jog
  • Cool-down for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline

Ladder Treadmill Workout

  • Warm-up for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline, keep incline for workout
  • 4 minutes fast at 80-90 percent effort, 4 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes fast at 80-90 percent effort, 3 minutes easy
  • 2 minutes fast at 80-90 percent effort, 2 minutes easy
  • 1 minute fast at 80-90 percent effort, 1 minute easy
  • 2 minutes fast at 80-90 percent effort, 2 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes fast at 80-90 percent effort, 3 minutes easy
  • 4 minutes fast at 80-90 percent effort, 4 minutes easy
  • Cool-down for 1-2 miles at .05 percent incline

Run/Walk Treadmill Workout

  • Walk for 5 minutes on a .5 incline as a warm-up
  • 3-minute easy jog
  • 2-minute run
  • 1-minute walk
  • 3-minute easy jog
  • 2-minute run
  • 3-minute easy jog
  • 2-minute run
  • 1-minute walk
  • Walk for 5 minutes on a .5 incline as a cool-down

If you would like help with your treadmill running training or towards your running goals, check out my run coaching services!

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