The best treadmill workouts for runners

running on a treadmill

The treadmill doesn’t have to be boring. There are a tonne of treadmill workouts for runners that you can include in your training plan. 

Gone are the days of long, boring runs on the treadmill. I can’t think of anything worse than running on a treadmill for 30 or more minutes straight at the same pace and incline. 

Sure, you’re getting your weekly miles in, but it’s just so boring!

Every runner loves the long Sunday run, but in order to get faster and stronger as a runner, you need to include more speed and variety.

I’ve relied on the treadmill a lot over the last few years to include more speed workouts in my training routine. 

Speedwork like interval training, Fartlek and tempo running can all be done on a treadmill if you get creative with your runs. 

What’s more, the treadmill is actually a great tool to use for your speed workouts. 

When you run on a treadmill, it reduces the impact forces on the body and helps to improve your running form.

All these factors contribute to good injury prevention strategies, meaning you’ll be able to run stronger for longer. 

Even better, if it’s raining outside or the weather is generally quite poor, you can bring your run inside on the treadmill and not miss a training day.

If you’re new to running on a treadmill, I suggest you get used to running on a treadmill first. 

Read my blog post on how to run on a treadmill without falling for more hints and tips on treadmill running.

Here are the best treadmill workouts for runners. 

The pyramid workout

This workout combines running and walking and is a form of interval training. 

The pyramid is one of the best treadmill workouts for runners as it isn’t just about running for 30 minutes straight.

By including a bit of variety in the form of timed intervals of walking and running, you mix things up a bit. 

Remember to start with a warm up – either easy jogging or brisk walking on the treadmill – then do the following intervals:

  • 30 second sprint / 30 second walk
  • 1 minute sprint / 1 minute walk
  • 2 minute sprint / 2 minute walk
  • 3 minute sprint / 3 minute walk
  • 4 minute sprint / 4 minute walk
  • 3 minute sprint / 3 minute walk
  • 2 minute sprint / 2 minute walk
  • 1 minute sprint / 1 minute walk
  • 30 second sprint / 30 second walk

Finish off with a 2 minute cool down of easy jogging or brisk walking.

The 3, 2, 1 workout

This workout is great for improving your understanding of pace and it gets you used to running at different paces interchangeably. 

If you’re new to pacing, check out my post on how to pace your run. In order to work out your pace, you’ll need to use a running pace calculator. 

In this workout you will be running at a fast pace and a recovery pace. Your recovery pace is 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate. In layman’s terms, this is roughly 60 to 90 seconds slower than your normal training pace. 

So, if you’re training for a 10k, your fast pace will be what you want to run on the day of the race. Add 60 to 90 seconds per mile and this is your recovery pace.

Remember to start with a warm up (in this case a 5 minute jog) then go straight into the main session as follows:

  • 3 min run (fast pace)
  • 3 min run (recovery pace)
  • 2 min run (fast pace)
  • 2 min run (recovery pace)
  • 1 min run (fast pace)
  • 1 min run (recovery pace)
  • 1 min run (fast pace)
  • 1 min run (recovery pace)
  • 2 min run (fast pace)
  • 2 min run (recovery pace)
  • 3 min run (fast pace)
  • 3 min run (recovery pace)

Finish with a 5 minute recovery jog for your cool down. 

You can also opt to repeat each round two or three times if you’re an intermediate or advanced runner. 

The hill workout

The hill workout is one of the best treadmill workouts for runners to help build stamina, power and strength. 

Hill running has been proven to help you increase endurance and strength as well as improve form and boost your speed and power.

Running hills is like a form of resistance training. The quads, calves, hamstrings and glutes work more when you run on an incline. 

Therefore hill workouts help to make you a stronger and faster runner. 

If you’re like me and don’t have many hills close by to train on, then the treadmill is a great alternative.

For this workout you’ll be using the incline function on the treadmill. If you’re new to this, then I suggest you get to grips with using this before diving straight into the workout. 

The higher the incline, the harder you’ll work your glutes.

Take caution when increasing the incline though as people tend to hang onto the handrails of the treadmill at higher inclines.

Make sure you’re still using good running posture too. If you 

if you can’t keep your balance with your hands free from the handrails, then the machine is set at too high of an incline. 

You should bend slightly at the ankles and drive forward with your quads and glutes.

If you’ve had hip flexor or knee problems, be extra cautious about exercising at higher inclines.

Start with a 5 minute jog for the warm up, then do the following:

  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 2% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 4% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 6% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 8% incline
  • 1 minute run (easy pace) at 1% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 4% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 6% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 8% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 10% incline
  • 1 minute run (easy pace) at 1% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 6% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 8% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 10% incline
  • 1 minute run (fast pace) at 12% incline
  • 1 minute run (easy pace) at 1% incline

Finish with a 5 minute recovery jog. 

The 5k workout

This workout is probably one of the most simple treadmill workouts for runners.

This is great for anyone new to running on the treadmill as it doesn’t involve lots of variations in pace or incline

  • Start with a 1k run at an easy pace as your warm up.
  • Then go straight into a 3k run at your race pace. 
  • Finish with a 1k run at an easy pace for your cool down. 

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