To be completely honest, I used to hate running on the treadmill. I devotedly referred to it as
In the past, I would have chosen to run outside in 40 degree weather with brutal rain and vicious winds than run on the treadmill. That is, until I realized I was making every rookie mistake possible when it came to running indoors!
Overall, treadmills are actually a great running option for a variety of reasons: avoiding bad weather, safely fitting in late night runs, and allowing yourself to train at home with the kids.
But, for those who would rather run barefoot on molten lava rock than on a treadmill, here are a few tips to help save you the pain, agony, and boredom I had to endure:
- Keep your pace consistent with what you normally run.
When you’re on a treadmill, it’s easier to push past your regular pace. The whole “set it and forget it” mentality tends to come into play. While this can be a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it can also be an easy way to get injured or burn out early, especially if you aren’t used to running at that pace for very long.
- Don’t hold on to anything!
You should not be grasping onto the handrails of the treadmill, whether at the side or the front. If you are, chances are you’re going too fast and not running with proper form.
- Speaking of form …
Keep your head facing forward (not looking down), and don’t lean into the machine. Stay upright, abs engaged, and arms perpendicular to the floor. Make sure your strides are of similar length to what they normally are outside. I find that mine can get much longer on a treadmill, so I have to mindfully bring them back to a more normal stride length.
- Do at least half of your runs outside.
If you’re training for a race, make sure you don’t do all of your runs on a treadmill. The impact from road running versus treadmill running is vastly different. To prepare your body for the more intense impact when road running, you need to incorporate at least some runs outside.
- Don’t believe the “calories burned” number.
The “calories burned” number on the treadmill display is always higher than it should be. I’ll usually wear my heart rate monitor when I workout on the treadmill (or the elliptical), and the calories burned based on my actual weight and heart rate are always significantly lower than what the treadmill is displaying. Sorry!
- Mix it up.
Throw in some speed work or hill repeats while on the treadmill to keep from getting bored. I love a simple 2 minutes slow, 30 seconds fast routine for 20 minutes. It’s an incredible workout!
- If you have a problem with shin splints, raise the incline to 1%.
When I first started running on the treadmill, I had horrible shin pain. I mentioned my problem to a few runners and one suggested I raise the incline to 1%. I haven’t had issues with my shins since!
- Warm-up and cool-down.
Please don’t neglect this just because you are inside! Your body still needs time to loosen up before you start running, and if you’ve ever tried to hop right off a treadmill without cooling down then you know what a bad idea that is! Try to walk for 5 minutes before and after you run.
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