Treadmill Workouts for Improved Running Performance

Are you tired of the monotony of the treadmill, dreading those seemingly endless runs on a “path to nowhere,” especially when the mileage reaches the 10-12 mile mark? Imagine a controlled climate where time surprisingly flies by as you concentrate on refining your running form and optimizing efficiency. The next water break or rest period becomes a beacon of relief, breaking down the workout into manageable intervals. The treadmill’s rhythmic cadence soothes your body, minimizing the exhaustion often experienced from the heat and impact of outdoor runs.

An indispensable rule for effective treadmill training: Set the incline at 1-2% when your pace exceeds 7:00 per mile. This compensates for the absence of air resistance indoors, ensuring the effort remains equivalent to an outdoor run.

Let’s explore some more innovative ways to integrate the treadmill into your Tempo Runs and Steady State sessions:

Workout #1: “Smooth & Steady”

  • Begin with a 10-minute warm-up walk/jog followed by light stretching.
  • Set the treadmill speed 30 seconds slower per mile than your recent 5k race pace.
  • For instance, if your last 5k was completed in 21:45 (7:00 pace per mile), target a 7:30 pace.
  • Alternatively, aim for 85% of your max heart rate if running by heart rate.
  • Maintain this pace while focusing on form and relaxation.
  • Novice runners start with a 20-minute effort, while seasoned runners can extend to 45 minutes over time.
  • Conclude with a 5-10-minute cool-down jog/walk and stretching routine.

Workout #2: “Progression Run”

  • Warm up for 10 minutes with a walk/jog and light stretches.
  • Designate a time goal, e.g., 15-60 minutes, for your Progression Run.
  • Start at your comfortable running pace and increase speed every 3 minutes by 2 mph.
  • Finish the last 3-minute segment at your 5k race pace or faster.
  • Conclude with a 5-10-minute cool-down jog/walk and stretching.
  • Opt for a treadmill with a supportive “Flex Deck” to minimize impact on joints while maintaining energy transfer.

Workout #3: “Cruise Intervals”

Warm up with a 15-minute walk/jog followed by stretching. Set treadmill speed about 20 seconds slower per mile than your 5k pace or at 90% of max heart rate.

Customize your intervals:

  • 4-6 x 5:00 Cruise Intervals with 1:00 rests.
  • 3 x 10:00 Cruise Intervals with 2:00 rests.
  • 15:00 Cruise Interval followed by 3:00 rest, then 10:00 Cruise Interval followed by 2:00 rest, and 2 sets of 5:00 Cruise Intervals with 1:00 rest between.
  • 2 x 20:00 Cruise Intervals with a 4:00 rest in between.
  • Conclude with a 5-10-minute cool-down jog/walk and stretching.

For a refreshing spin on your training routine, consider using advanced treadmill coaching programs offered by manufacturers like StarTrac. These programs inject variety and challenge into your workouts, with over 100 different protocols available. After inputting your preferences, the program generates random workouts led by a virtual running coach, complete with instructional videos, stretching routines, and language options. Embrace the treadmill’s potential and reap the rewards!