Updated: Jul 2
We’ve all been there - maybe because of COVID quarantines, maybe you’re in a hotel on a business trip, maybe there’s an inch of fresh ice on the streets, maybe it’s 120F outside. Maybe you're setting one of eight world records in a treadmill-based event. Whatever the reason, you’re facing a workout on the treadmill.
Some people love it, some people hate it; some will never touch it, some swear by it. Whatever your attitude, here are some tips from some of Chaski's coaches about how to make the most of your treadmill workouts.
1. Cover up the screen.
“During the Chaski Challenge, we had to keep the treadmill screens uncovered so our assistants could take splits (and make sure everything was above board), but normally when I run on a treadmill, I cover up the screen with a piece of paper or a towel. It makes time seem like it’s going by so much slower to watch every second and ever 0.01 of distance tick by!” - Tyler Andrews
2. Listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts.
“There’s plenty of science that shows that music (especially high-energy music) can be a performance enhancer. Anecdotally, it makes the run feel easier and more engaging. In other words, I just feel more psyched up. I’ve had several of my world record attempts feel pretty hard and then really turn around because I had a great song come on at just the right time. It can be a total game-changer.” - Mike Wardian
3. Try some intervals or a progression run.
“Mix things up a little bit! Don’t just get on the treadmill and run your normal pace. It can be much more engaging to mix things up and try an interval workout (a mix of faster and slower running) or a progression run (where you speed up). Here’s an example of each.
3-2-1 workout: Start with an easy warmup of about 10 to 15 minutes of jogging. Then, run 3 minutes at about 30 seconds to 1 minute per mile faster than your normal easy pace, 1 minute at easy pace, 2 minutes at that same faster pace, 1 minute at easy pace, 1 minute even faster! This is one set and will take 8 minutes. Either wrap it up here or take 2-3 minutes of easy running and then do another set (and rinse/repeat!)
Progression run: Start at your normal easy run pace. Set a time on your watch to beep every 1 minute (or just watch the time). Each time your watch beeps, move the speed up one notch. Keep going until you feel like you’re hitting your max. Then go one more minute! You can make this longer if you’re training for a longer race by upping the pace every 2 minutes instead of every minute.” - Kimber Mattox
4. Don’t JUST run on the treadmill.
“The treadmill can be a useful tool for training, but just like everything, you don’t want to rely on it entirely. Yes, your mechanics are a bit different running on the treadmill. Yes, the surface of a treadmill is different vs running on the road. If you do 100% of your running on the treadmill and then try to go run 26.2 miles on asphalt, you’re probably going to have a tough time!” - Maggie Fox
5. Play around with the incline.
“It’s not just about speed - treadmills can be a great way to train for incline. Maybe you live somewhere super flat like I do here in Houston, but you’re training for a hilly race like the Boston Marathon. The treadmill can be a great way to do that. Sometimes, it’s even better than running outside. When I was training for Comrades Ultramarathon (a very hilly 50+ mile race in South Africa), I trained for a lot of the long, steady climbs on the ‘mill.” - Calum Neff
Sample workout: Hill intervals. Warm up 10-15 min jogging and then keep your pace the same but raise the incline up to 3% for 2 minutes. Keep the pace the same and lower the incline back down for 2 minutes. Now repeat, but raise the incline to 4% and then back down to 0. You can keep doing this until the intervals get really hard!
6. Stay cool!
“Running indoors generates a ton of heat! When you’re on the treadmill, you don’t have the breeze of being outside and moving through the air. Try to set up a fan next to you and if you’re doing a longer run, make sure to have some cold liquids to hydrate. Be careful, though, to not get too much sweat (or water) on the belt as you could potentially slip! Of all these tips, having a fan is probably the most important to having a productive workout.” - Ashley Brasovan
What are YOUR top tips for treadmill running? Do you love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments below!