As it starts to get colder, you might be thinking of using the treadmill more to get your runs in.
If you’re like me, the treadmill isn’t your first choice for running; you’d rather be outside. However, when that’s not an option, there are things you can do to make your treadmill runs better!
In this article, we’ll cover 14 tips for treadmill running from how to stay motivated to safety tips to maintaining good form to how high to set the incline. Hopefully, these tips will help you enjoy the times that you do have to use the treadmill.
1. How to Stay Motivated
Although it can be hard to motivate yourself anytime to go on a run, it can be even more challenging to get yourself on the treadmill. It’s just the same thing over and over unlike running outside, which has some variation.
Thus, it’s important to think ahead about motivating yourself for treadmill runs so that you don’t skip them because you’re dreading them. You might try a couple of ideas to see what works best for you.
First, consider setting a running goal, such as running at least a mile every day or running a 5k two or three times a week. Either way, you’ll get around 6-10 miles in a week, which is a really good start.
You might also consider meeting up with a friend to run side-by-side on the treadmills at the gym. This can also work at home if your friend or family member does strength or cardio exercises as you run on the treadmill.
Another way to reward yourself is only listening to a certain podcast, audiobook, or music when you’re on the treadmill because then you’ll want to work out to hear that music or get to the next part in the book. You may even want to purchase Bluetooth wireless earbuds for ease.
If you’re someone that loves competition, you might try tracking your runs with your GPS watch or a running app like Strava and compete with your friends to see who has run the most/the farthest/etc.
Finally, you can always reward yourself with a treat! While you need to be careful about this if you’re trying to lose weight from running, sometimes a great way to motivate yourself is with a reward. So splurge on a fun Starbucks drink or get something new when you achieve a goal!
2. How to Prepare for Treadmill Runs
You’ll want to make sure that you have everything ready to go before you get on the treadmill so that you don’t have to stop mid-run. Make sure that you have water, headphones, a book, a tablet or phone, and a towel already there before you start running.
Even if it’s really cold outside, you’ll still want to wear shorts and short sleeves or a tank top because it will get hot inside. I tried running on a treadmill once in leggings, and it was just really hot.
If you typically run outside, you’ll want to make sure that your shoes are clean so that you don’t get any dirt or debris on the treadmill. And don’t forget to use the bathroom beforehand, especially if you’re planning to go for a longer run.
3. How to Stay Safe on the Treadmill
Although this should go without saying, make sure that you stop the treadmill whenever you want to get on or off. Do not jump on or off it! You may even want to use the safety clip and attach it to your clothes so that the treadmill stops if you go too far back.
If you need to stop immediately because something unexpected happened like a cramp, make sure that you use the large-stop button. Don’t fiddle with the other buttons. Finally, don’t use any treadmill where the belt is slipping. You need to adjust the belt first.
4. How to Warm Up
It’s always important to get a warm-up in, so spend at least five minutes walking or jogging on the treadmill to get some oxygen to your muscles. This is also a good time to prepare mentally for your run.
You may also want to do some light sprints for 10-30 seconds if you’re planning to run at a faster pace. This will help you prepare for that workout mentally and physically. Finally, make sure that you get your heartbeat up to at least 130 beats per minute during your warm-up.
5. How to Maintain Good Treadmill Running Form
Running form is always important, including on a treadmill! Make sure that you’re standing nice and tall and keep your hips below your shoulders. You shouldn’t be slouching or leaning forward.
Make sure that your core is engaged and that you keep your chin and head up. You should aim to touch the belt with your mid-foot underneath your hips. Also, make sure that you maintain a short stride, keep a good cadence, and aim for 170-180 steps per minute.
Finally, something unique to treadmills is that you should avoid holding onto the railing or the console. The reason why is because doing so will cause you to slouch—especially if you’re taller—and it’s important to stand up straighter.
6. How to Make the Most of Your Run on the Treadmill
Anyone who has run on the treadmill knows that it can get boring, so it’s important to have tricks up your sleeve to minimize that feeling. First, you can try distracting yourself during the run with a video or a screen that has virtual courses/real marathon races.
Having something else to focus on instead of the repetitiveness of the treadmill is sure to help. You can also try one of the programs to change things up because then incline and pace will be constantly changing, and you’ll get some variety.
If you have a treadmill at home (or if you don’t get easily embarrassed), you might try placing a mirror in front of yourself so that you can check your running form and give yourself a dose of happiness by smiling at yourself.
Checking your running form every ½ mile and drinking regularly can be two helpful tasks that will give you something to do. Depending on how fast and how far you’re running, you may need to drink fairly often.
Typically, you sweat more when you’re running inside, so make sure to factor that in for your hydration. Also, you can drink either just water or water with electrolytes to make sure that your body is getting the replenishment it needs.
7. How to Set the Incline on the Treadmill
If you don’t change the incline on the treadmill, it’s actually easier than running outside because there is no wind resistance. To simulate outdoor running, you’ll want to set the incline to 1%.
Then you get a little bit more of a workout, but you aren’t hurting your back, hips, and ankles. Too steep of an incline for too long may cause issues later on. If you keep it at 1%, though, you should be fine.
8. How to Track Your Progress
If you don’t tend to enter races or do so only once or twice a year, you might consider making your own personal race every couple weeks. Try running a 5k or 10k as hard as you can, thinking of it as a race, not a training run.
And then write down the results. Every couple weeks (or months), do another “race” and then see your results. Chances are you’ll see improvement if you track your results and that will help you stay motivated.
9. How to Keep Improving
If you want to keep improving even as you have to run on the treadmill, you need to set goals so that you can give yourself something to strive for. Consider setting goals like increasing your weekly mileage by a certain percentage for a particular number of weeks.
You could also try to run at least a little faster for each run for a particular number of weeks or run a minute or two longer. Pick a goal that is reasonable and not too challenging but will give you something to do.
10. How to Complete Treadmill Intervals
A good way to avoid the boredom of a treadmill is to do interval runs. Although they are harder than slow runs, they are more mentally interesting and help keep you engaged on the treadmill.
You can start by doing very basic intervals like running one minute fast and one minute slow and repeat for 5-10 reps. You could also try something a little harder like running 10 x ¼ mile sprints with brief jogging in between each rep.
11. How to Get in Long Runs
It’s painful enough having to run for thirty minutes on the treadmill, let alone an hour or two. If you need to do a longer run (over 1.5 hours), consider splitting it in half and doing part in the morning and the other part in the evening.
12. How to Train for a Marathon on a Treadmill
If you’re training for a marathon on a treadmill, be prepared for lots of long, boring runs. This is probably a great time to get hooked on a show that you can binge-watch during your training.
You also want to make sure that you’re prepared with food, such as energy gels, fruits, and electrolytes/energy drinks whenever you have to be on the treadmill for a long time. If you have a treadmill at home, consider asking your significant other to bring you stuff for a much needed break!
13. How to Cool Down
Just like you want to make sure that you get a warm-up in, you need to take the time to cool down. A good rule of thumb is to walk for one minute per every mile that you ran. If you ran five miles, then you should walk for five minutes as a cool down.
Make sure that your heart rate gets below 100 beats per minute before you finish your cool down and then give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done! You got your workout in, no matter how ugly or pretty it was!
Finally, don’t forget to stretch the major muscle groups after you walk it out for at least 3-5 minutes. You may also want to foam roll or have someone massage your muscles and take an ice bath or put your feet in ice water.
14. How to Clean Up the Treadmill After Your Run
If you run outside, there really isn’t anything that you need to do to clean up after a run. Obviously, the treadmill is a little different. You need to make sure that you wipe the dashboard and the belt after you finish your run.
This is especially important if you’re using a public treadmill in a gym or other exercise facility. Additionally, if you own the treadmill yourself, make sure that you clean and maintain your treadmill every month so that it lasts for a long time!
While running on the treadmill as compared to running outside might not be your first choice, there are plenty of ways to make running inside more enjoyable. Plus, you’re able to do things like watch Netflix or complete a virtual course.
By focusing on the positive things and less on the negative aspects of running on a treadmill, you’re sure to be more open to the days and months when you have to run inside because of the weather!