Whether you believe it or not, the treadmill can be a runner’s best friend—especially during these harsh winter months when you can’t gather up the motivation to walk or run outside felt victim to the winter too.
It ain’t pretty.
Although I don’t mind going for a rainy run every now and then, running in snow and under freezing temperatures is not my cup of tea.
In fact, I think—and it’s so evident—that adverse weather conditions during the winter might be the main reason why runners stop—or are not that consistent—with their training program during the winter season.
The freezing morning air, the wind, fog and pouring rain, the harsh weather conditions may be one reason to take your running indoor.
Treadmill Enters the Picture
But let’s be honest here. Striding in the same place and at the same pace between four walls is as boring as watching grass grow.
Plus, it’s really inefficient training-wise. That’s why you got to do something about it to ward off boredom and make the most out of every treadmill workout you do.
After all, in my book, training enjoyment and efficiency is the name of the game. If you can have both, then hooray, mate.
How to Max Out On Your Treadmill Running Workouts
Use these training guidelines to upgrade your treadmill time.
Starting with the treadmill
Before you go to your first (or next) treadmill workout, try to incorporate these two valuable training tips so you can get the most out of this machine.
Have a Plan
Before you jump on the treadmill, you need to know what you are getting yourself into.
As a result, you’d better have all the right gear and equipment at hand.
First of all, make sure to run in proper running shoes.
Although any running shoe will do, to make the most of your treadmill workout, invest in with extra padding in the soles to protect your heels and feet from the high impact.
Also, have your treadmill gear at hand. Get yourself a water bottle that you can use easily with one hand. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the workout.
In addition, expect to sweat a lot—even if it’s cold outside—so get yourself a hand towel to wipe your arms, hands, and face as needed.
You won’t want to look like a sweaty mess.
It’s always tempting to jump on the machine and give it a run for the mill. But that’s not the smart approach.
The objective behind this is to get the blood pumping and heart rate ticking and be for the hard effort ahead.
Therefore, do yourself a solid and invest in at least 5 to 10 minutes warm-up period, then aim to slowly increase your speed as you go, but never speed up to the point that your form begins to suffer.
Note: Start off with a slow gait and let your body get used to the motion of the machine, especially if it’s your first time on the belt. You will need to get used to the machine, and its different options.
Proper Treadmill Running Form
Proper running form is essential whether you are running indoor or outdoor. Bad form hinders performance and leads to injury—to avoid like the plague.
To develop proper form on the treadmill, do the following:
Good running form is vital whether you are running outside or on the treadmill. And one of the most common mistakes I see runners make on the treadmill is looking down at the feet or on the console while running.
Why is this bad?
Well, it’s quite simple. Doing so will force you to hunch over, causing all sorts of pain and discomfort, especially in the lower back and knee. Plus, this is bad form, and it always leads to trouble.
Therefore, make sure to use the same running form you use outside.
Abide by these four bullets:
- Run tall and look straight ahead as if gazing to the horizon.
- Aim to run with your nature gait, and avoid taking choppy and short strides.
- Keep your posture straight, head should be up, back straight, and shoulders level.
- Never slouch or curve your back, especially when going against an incline.
Let Go of the Handrails
I hate to break it to you, but the handles are there to help you hop on and down the treadmill. They are not there to make the workout easier.
Holding to the handrails is a very common mistake that I see a lot of runners make—especially when fatigue starts to set in.
This is not a good treadmill running strategy for two reasons.
For starters, it forces you to hunch over, which leads to bad form. That’s really baaaad!
Secondly, you are making the run easier on yourself. You are reducing your training load and compromising your effort. That’s also way baaaaaad!
To do that, make sure to run on the belt the way you run outside. Swing your arms side by side, keep your posture upright and do your best to feel (and look) more natural.
Try to pretend that the handrails are not even there.
If you need a breather, slow it down to stop, recover, then resume with your workouts.
Boost Performance on the Treadmill
The treadmill can not only help you stay in shape, but also increase fitness and get you ready for competition—whether it’s a race, a team sport, you name it. You just need to tailor your treadmill routine to fit with your competition needs and racing goals.
Mimic the Race
For racers out there, the treadmill has a lot to offer. This machine offers you the possibility to have control over your pace, speed, and other factors.
Plus, you can always set the speed and incline to fit within your racing goals.
For instance, if you are about to race on hilly terrains, but you live where there are only smooth courses, you can simulate the race experience by adding hills to your training run.
Plus, the treadmill can also push you outside of your comfort zone—where the magic happens—ideal for improving performance and nailing a new personal best.
Know your Numbers
The treadmill also offers you the possibility to accurately know your numbers—time, pace, mileage, calorie burn, etc.—and track them over time. As you can see this is vital for judging your progress or lack thereof.
Just keep in mind that the “calories burned” charts on the treadmill are rarely accurate. They only offer a rough estimation.
They fail to put into the equation other important factors such gender, body weight, age, resting heart rate and so on.
Even after you input some of these factors on a treadmill, you will always get a rough estimate.
With that said, this doesn’t mean that they’re useless…
Use the stats a barometer of your progress, and try to improve upon it from one week to the next.
Approach your workout with a specific plan for speed and incline, and once it gets easier, up the ante.
Banish Boredom on the Treadmill
One of the main reasons many runners shy away from the treadmill is boredom.
I get bored too on the treadmill. But I have also learned how to sidestep it. Here are two ways that can help:
Listen to Music
Yes, it’s that simple.
According to scores of studies, running to the beat of music increases performance and helps ward off boredom.
Not only that, music reduces the levels of perceived effort, helping you run longer and harder.
Therefore, load your MP3 player, but do it wisely.
Start your playlist with slow tempo songs, then build it up gradually.
In other words, listen to music that build’s in tempo from slow to fast, rather than keeping a consistently faster beat.
So what you are waiting for? Pick motivating songs and create a playlist for your workouts.
Visualize a Route
As I stated earlier, do your best to make your treadmill experience as natural as possible.
One way is to make your indoor workout ‘seem more natural’ is to visualize an outdoor route.
Imagine your favorite outdoor route and pretend that you are on it, running by certain landmarks, and fine-tune the incline based on any hill along your route.
Your unconscious mind has already a storage of a good running memories, and by using active visualization, you are tapping into that valuable resource and using it to your advantage.
If you have difficulties visualizing, or find too hard to think of a favorite running route, then let your imagination run wild. Look for pictures on Google images for pristine running routes and imagine yourself tackling them.
Three Treadmill Workouts
The type of workouts you do on the treadmill is where the rubber meets the road—literally and figuratively. It’s the difference that makes the difference.
Revamp your treadmill running by doing any of these 3 workouts:
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, then you’ve undoubtedly heard about –even experienced—the power of intervals when it comes to fat loss and performance.
According to research, alternating between set periods of high intense sprinting and recovery can increase calorie burn, improve speed, boost endurance, build mental toughness—all of which can help you become a faster and stronger runner.
Interval workouts are simple and straightforward. A typical interval treadmill workout includes a proper warm-up of 5 to 10 minute of slow and gradual jogging.
Next, get your heart pumping hard by alternating 30-seconds intervals at full effort with 30-seconds to one full minute of recovery bouts.
Add the Incline
Once you are well acquainted with interval workouts, make them more challenging by using the incline.
Hill repeats are about taking your treadmill interval workouts to the next level. They consist of running at a set incline for a set distance followed by a set period of rest.
This workout will not only help you boost your cardiovascular power, but it’ll also tone and strengthen your lower body and improve your speed and explosiveness.
That’s one of the big benefits that the treadmill brings to the table: the ability to run uphill without having to look for one—admit it, sometimes it’s hard to find a proper running hill.
Start your workout with a decent warm-up jog, then gradually increase the incline to about eight to 10 percent and sprint as fast as possible for 30 seconds.
Recover for one full minute by reducing the incline and speed. Repeat the cycle four to six times and try to maintain the same speed and incline for each interval.
Finish up with a five-minute slow jog with no incline.
Add Bodyweight Exercises
Combining treadmill with body weight exercises can help you burn more fat, improve performance and bust treadmill boredom.
It’s the most efficient way to make the most of the treadmill.
Here is a CrossFit inspired treadmill bodyweight workout. It’s one of my favorites. You can choose to add these bodyweight exercises into your treadmill workout any way you like.
After a proper warm-up of 5-minutes jogging and some dynamic exercises, do the following.
- Sprint for 30-second
- Pushups: 8-12 reps
- Sprint for 30-second
- Squat Jumps: 8-12 reps
- Sprint for 30-second
- Treadmill recovery: 90 seconds slow jogging.
- Sprint for 30-second
- Jumping jacks: 60 seconds
- Lunge steps: 16 to 20 reps
- Sprint for 30-second
- Finish it off with a 5-minute slow jog as a cool down, followed by stretching.
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Here you have it!
Now the ball is in your court, and your responsibility to put into action what you have just learned.
Hopefully, you liked my 11 treadmill running strategies.
Thank you for reading my post.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.
Featured Image Credit – Correre Bene Through Flickr.