As an avid runner, I know there are many different theories out there about running outside vs. indoors on the treadmill, and quite honestly there are countless benefits to both! At the end of the day, it’s about getting active. I’m a big believer in doing whatever makes you most likely to get up and go. Whether that’s going to the gym, running outdoors, lifting weights, practicing yoga, etc. However, from my experience, it’s not always feasible to run or workout outdoors. Sometimes when the weather doesn’t cooperate, you’re on a time crunch, or you just like going to the gym. Luckily, we have the ability to run indoors on the treadmill!
I think the treadmill gets a bad rep because of the misconception that you’re not getting as good of a workout. Now, I’m not a scientist so I can’t comment on the science behind it, but I do have personal experience. I have trained for 5 half marathons (PR’ing each time) and lost 35 pounds by a combination of 70/30 treadmill to outdoor running. Below is my advice on how to get the most out of your treadmill workout. Stay tuned to future posts for additional treadmill workouts and tips!
Tip #1: Always set an incline!
This is the most common mistake among treadmill runners. Always set an incline to at least 1.0. If you run with an incline less than that, the treadmill is doing a lot of the work for you and you are essentially “running downhill” the entire time. At 1.0, it is closer to running outdoors on a flat course (outdoors is never perfectly flat). What’s nice about the treadmill is you can use one of the treadmill’s programmed hill workouts or create your own if you want to do hill training. (stay tuned for examples, coming soon!)
Tip #2: Make the most of the built in pacing system.
From experience, perfecting the art of pacing is a difficult task to master. Even some of the most experienced runners don’t have it 100% accurate. I use the treadmill to practice pacing because you can get a feel for what a true 8 min/mile pace feels like, etc. Repetition makes perfect! After trying out different paces on the treadmill, you’ll find if you take your run outside that you have better idea of how to pace yourself and what you can maintain.
Tip #3: Do a few “perfectly paced” long runs on the treadmill – and you can watch TV!
One thing that helps me get used to the idea of a long run is setting it and forgetting it, and distracting myself by watching Netflix on my iPad. While this may not be a best practice, it helps me practice getting into a groove and keeping my mind busy. Obviously Netflix won’t be available on a long trail run, but I can easily occupy my mind and keep it off of the negative self talk, because I have practice setting and forgetting. Half the battle is getting your mind to that place, so why not train for that too!?
Tip #4: Have a variety of treadmill workouts that keep you engaged, changing paces, and working on sprints.
I have a vault of 15+ workouts I vary between for several reasons. First, it keeps me engaged and I am less likely to get bored of doing the same workout over and over. Second, I change it up between a tempo run, interval runs, recovery runs, etc. All of my runs focus on pace, speed, and endurance.
Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that the treadmill is NOT your enemy, stay tuned for my “best of” treadmill workouts! I’ll be posting 1 suggested treadmill run per week to help you make the most of your indoor training! The sky’s the limit!
Have a question? Leave a comment! I’d love to know your opinion on treadmill training – and yes, even the good, the bad, and the ugly!