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064: Treadmill Running Workouts (and Tips!)

Nov 29, 2018

 The treadmill.  I have heard it called many things.  The dreadmill. A winter refuge. A shelter from stifling heat or powerful thunderstorms.  A human hamster wheel. The long road to nowhere. Cardio.  Personally, I like to think of the treadmill as cheap therapist that I can occasionally visit on a long lunch break or while the team heads out for a distance run.  

Whatever your relationship with this gym staple, there is one aspect we can all agree upon, it can get really boring.  Mile after mile of not actually going anywhere gets a bit tedious. On this episode, besides some basic tips on safety and general treadmill guidelines, we are going to provide some workouts that you can add into your training when you end up trapped (or blessed) on a treadmill.  

First, let’s get some basic safety out of the way.  

  • Do not run while holding the front or side handles. If you cannot keep up, slow down, but do not grab on.  
  • Never jump onto a moving treadmill. It is not a safe idea. Of course, your hosts both break both of these rules during workouts, by using the side rails to hold ourselves above the turning belt and then drop down when the treadmill has actually reached the correct speed.  Officially, we stand by don’t jump onto a moving treadmill.

Second, some important tips for treadmill usage:  

  • Land softly with your feet underneath you. It should not sound like you are about to break the machine.  
  • Always trust the speed and distance on the treadmill over your fancy gps watch unless you are wearing a footpod.  
  • Bring a towel for yourself during the run and clean up the machine afterwards.
  • Finally, decide on some form of distraction like music, your favorite podcast, or a nearby tv.   
  • If you are going the quiet route, use the treadmill as a chance to really tune into your body and feel the different effort levels or practice your mental distraction techniques.  

On to the workouts!

  1. Mile repeats:  Perfect for everyone.  
    • If you are training for a 5k or 10k, aim for mile repeats slightly slower than 5k effort with a walking recovery time of half the running time.  Depending on your current training level and normal mileage, you could run 2-5 of these repeats.
    • If you are looking to race further (half marathon, marathon), you simply add repeats, slow the pace, and decrease the recovery.  Something like 8 x 1 mile with 25% recovery between 10k and half marathon goal pace. That sounds like a lot of fun, now that I type it out.
  2. Steady state runs:  Possible the most ideal treadmill run.  This workout should be at the core of half marathon and marathon training, and should be included in the early season training for shorter races.  You simply pick a pace that you could sustain for an hour and run.
    • Start with 20 minutes at that pace, and over time increase towards 40-50 minutes.  
    • You can breakup the run into 15-20 minute chunks with minimal break or run straight through.
    • Ideally, your heart rate should climb to a moderately high level and stay there for the workout.  Running this in silence is an amazing way to practice tuning into and out of your body and it’s feeling of fatigue.
  3. Dueling treadmills:  Its more fun with others.  For this workout you need at least two treadmills and a running partner.  After a warmup, everyone participating gets to take a turn calling out surges - how fast and how much time.  Before you start, decide what speeds will be needed. In other words, what does medium, hard and very hard actually mean on a treadmill.  The glory of this run is that two runners of different abilities can run together and both get great benefits when they would not be able to run together outside.  
  4. Hill repeats:  Hidden bonuses snuck into the incline.  When you run outside and run hills there is a basic rule that whatever you run up you and going to have to run down, but downhill running can be very painful if not done with proper form.  Treadmills take out the extra impact from running downhill while giving you the benefits of running uphill. Aim for an incline between 3-5%. It may not sound like much, but if you are running steady for a quarter to a full mile, the incline is substantial.  Shoot for repeats between 1-5 minutes and just the speed based off of your effort rather than picking a speed beforehand.

Hopefully these workouts will help you gets through your days of pounding out some treadmill miles.  


Hope you enjoy it!! Let us know if you have any questions that you would like answered on our show!   

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