When most runners think about running treadmill workouts they often shudder with fear. The treadmill or ‘dreadmill’ as it’s often referred to has a shady past. For starters the treadmill has an uncanny ability to make time go slower. It’s like being on the phone on hold to your bank, a minute seems to take five minutes. Secondly, it gets hot very quickly, running in a stationary place remove the ‘wind in your hair’ aspect from running. We could list more, however this article is designed to help you enjoy the treadmill and get more from it.
So, for all the negative aspects to the treadmill there are positives and reasons why runners should embrace the treadmill.
For starters, the treadmill gives you the flexibility to run whenever you need. You can use your treadmill through day or night, hot or cold weather, if its unsafe to run in your neighbourhood at night or to use your time effectively. The treadmill gives you the flexibility to choose your schedule.
The other aspect and reason for this article is you can get a very good runner specific workout from the treadmill. The best thing about the treadmill is you control the speed and incline, which means you can tailor the exact workout you need and vary the speed and incline to make sure you get what you are after.
Here are four treadmill workouts that will not just beat the dread but help make the treadmill a valuable part of your training.
For all these treadmill workouts start with a 5-10 minute easy running warm up on the treadmill. End the workout with 5-10 minute jog or walk cool down on the treadmill.
1. Pyramid Speedwork
This treadmill workout should take 40 -50 minutes, speeds used will vary depending on the runners ability. After a warm up adjust your treadmill to a speed just above your easy running speed.
Each three minute interval increase the speed by 1km/hr x 5 times
Followed by, each three minute interval decrease the speed by 1km/hr x 5 times. Followed by your cool down.
Warm up 10 minutes at 7-9km/hr
3 min x 10 km/hr – 3 min x 11 km/hr – 3 min x 12 km/hr – 3 min x 13 km/hr – 3 min x 14km/hr = 15 min
3 min x 14 km/hr – 3 min x 13 km/hr – 3 min x 12 km/hr – 3 minx 11 km/hr – 3 min x 10km/hr = 15 min
Cool down 10 min at 9 -6 km/hr decreasing in speed.
This gives the runner a great tempo style workout.
2. Pyramid Hills
Similar to the previous workout however this workout uses a fixed speed and increases the incline up before coming down. Again this workout should take 40 – 50 minutes, after a warm up adjust your treadmill to a speed you are able to hold comfortably for 30 minutes. Think marathon or half marathon pace.
Each three minute interval increase the incline by 1% x 5 times
Followed by, each three minute interval decrease the incline by 1% x 5 times. Followed by your cool down.
Warm up 10 minutes at 7-9 km/hr
Set treadmill speed at between 10 – 12 km/hr
3 min x 2% gradient – 3 min x 3% gradient – 3 min x 4% gradient – 3 min x 5% gradient – 3 min x 6% gradient = 15 min
3 min x 6% gradient – 3 min x 5% gradient – 3 min x 4% gradient – 3 min x 3 % gradient – 3 min x 2% gradient = 15 min
Cool down 10 min at 9 -6 km/hr at 0 – 2% gradient.
Do this treadmill workout regularly for a great strength building workout. This should feel hard as you increase the gradient and as you decrease should become more comfortable.
3. Speedwork Step ups
One of the best uses of the treadmill is speedwork, this treadmill workout is not a traditional interval workout, where we use fast intervals followed by rest repeated over time. In this workout as we increase the speed for the interval the following rest period gets quicker than the previous rest period.
Again this workout should take between 40 – 50 minutes to complete. Set speed of first interval at approx. half marathon pace. From here will step up in speed for three sets before repeating.
Warm up 10 minutes at 7-9km/
Effort – 3 min x 14 km/hr Rest 2 min at 12km/hr
Effort – 3 min x 16 km/hr Rest 2 min at 13 km/hr
Effort – 3 min x 18 km/hr Rest 2 min at 14 km/hr
2 min at 10 – 12 km/hr and then repeat. Followed by Cool down 10 min at 10 – 6 km/hr decreasing through the 10 min.
This treadmill workout should be hard. It is a great treadmill workout for those training for a marathon or long race. Teaching being able to change pace and run fast as you fatigue. What was the effort pace in the first interval becomes the rest in the third, trust the process the body will adapt to these changes of pace.
4. Climb that Mountain
This one is designed for building strength. When we run regular hills we build strength and this treadmill workout does exactly this.
This treadmill workout can take as long as you have. you can do a 40 -50 minute workout as described in the previous workouts or make it as long as you like. Repeat the below example for a tough but beneficial long run.
In this workout we will simply increase the gradient of the treadmill every five minutes. When we do this we decrease the speed of the treadmill.
Warm up 10 minutes at 7 – 9 km/hr at 0-1% gradient.
5 min – 14 km/hr at 2% gradient
5 min – 13 km/hr at 3% gradient
5 min – 12 km/hr at 4% gradient
5 min – 12 km/hr at 6% gradient – Pace stays the same as we step up further gradient.
5 min – 11 km/hr at 7% gradient
5 min – 10 km/hr at 8% gradient
Cool down 10 min at 10 – 6 km/hr decreasing speed through the 10 minutes.
This workout represents 30 minutes of hills, it can easily repeated for an hour or more. This session gives a 30 minute strength building and hill adaptation workout that any runner could prove valuable.
All four of these workouts give the runner a different speed or strength building workout. All of these workouts will be challenging and valuable in the building blocks of your overall running program. Each of these workouts will keep the treadmill interesting.
In all these workouts we’ve used speeds and inclines that are suited to an experienced runner. If your ability is lower or higher than this each workout can be altered. Just use the same methodology to adjust the paces of these workouts.
The treadmill doesn’t have to be the dreadmill. Whether we are running outdoors or on a treadmill each run should have a purpose. Each run should fit into program that pieces together the building blocks of aerobic fitness, endurance, speed and strength. When we do this we get fitter, fast and enjoy our running more.
If you have any questions regarding treadmill workouts or training programs in general, leave a comment or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you get the most you can out of your running.