Tips for Treadmill Training


by John Stanton

This could be a great time to dust off the treadmill that has been taking up space in your basement or garage. Not sure how to get started? Here are some tips to get you up and running.


As you are setting up, a few quick reminders:

  • Do a safety check to ensure that the area around the treadmill is free from obstructions or hazards.
  • You are likely to sweat more indoors, so get yourself a towel and set up a cooling fan, if you have one.
  • Dress in comfortable athletic clothing, such as a moisture-wicking top and a pair of breathable shorts.
  • Keep a water bottle handy so you can stay well hydrated.
  • Hook up a music player, TV or mobile device so that you can keep yourself motivated with your favourite playlist or TV show.

To begin the workout, do a proper warm-up, just as you would in an outdoor run. To account for the moving surface and lack of wind resistance, set the grade of the treadmill to about 2%. Increase your intensity and volume gradually.

Let your body naturally settle in to your optimal pace. The moving action of the treadmill actually provides some assistance to your running effort, so don’t be surprised if you can run a 5-minutes-per-kilometre pace with the same perceived effort as a 6-minutes-per-kilometre pace outdoors.

Focus on your form and your position on the treadmill. If you are too far forward, your stride will be too short; if you’re too far back, you risk falling off.

Run for time rather than distance. For example, if a typical outdoor 10K takes you 60 minutes, run for that amount of time rather than relying on the treadmill’s displayed distance.

If one of your goals is to increase speed, the treadmill is the perfect place to practice increasing your stride rate (also called cadence). Listen to your foot strike to find the “sweet spot” for your foot placement. The less noise your foot strike makes, the closer you are to getting it right. Start working towards a goal of about 180 foot strikes per minute.

If your motivation is fading, mix it up. Do some timed sessions of high intensity followed by a recovery set. Try running some sets at a 4% incline for two minutes, followed by two minutes of recovery. Include some fartlek runs in time with your music: run for one song at 80% effort, take it easy for the next song, then do another at 75% effort, and so on. Rather than trying to simply run faster on the treadmill, work at moving up from a 2% to a 4% grade.

As your session concludes, do a proper cool-down by jogging or walking at a slower pace, followed by some light stretching. Tack up a calendar on the wall next to the treadmill and colour in each day that you complete a workout. This will help you build a routine with some forward momentum, even as you are running in place.


John Stanton is the President and Founder of the Running Room. He is the author of 10 books about running, walking and family fitness.

One Reply to “Tips for Treadmill Training”

  1. Great points John, thanks for sharing as a lot of folks are plugging their treadmills back in to stay indoors for exercise!

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