Tips for Running on the Treadmill

Tips for Running on the Treadmill

running on the treadmill

To be completely honest, I used to hate running on the treadmill. I devotedly referred to it as
“the dreadmill”. 

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.

Additional Running Resources

Attend My Live Training Plan Workshop - Are you interested in learning how to build your own customized training plans? Want to learn how to stop relying on generic plans that don't take YOU into account. In my LIVE two-part interactive, workshop you will learn how to take control of your running and build a customized training program around your skill level, your race distance or your running goals.

You will learn how to build, customize and modify your own personalized training plans for any race distance between 5k and 50k. You will learn how to match your short and long terms goals to a training plan that can realistically achieve what you set out to achieve. And, you will walk away with a plan you actually built, plus mentoring to make sure the plan will work for you. Come learn the exact process I have used to build thousands of training plans for my clients of all experience levels.

Runner's Toolkit - Get access to 30 days of free coaching tips by email and get your #1 running question personally answered by me, just for signing up. Plus get free access to our private Facebook community where other RunBuzz community members gather for support, camaraderie and general shenanigans.

Find out how you can support RunBuzz's mission to bring quality running content (educational, inspirational, etc) to the running community. Did you know it takes approximately 8-10 hours of work to research, record, edit and release each podcast episode? Help support us in our mission to make every runner regardless of age, size and ability a better runner. Your support helps keep future RunBuzz podcast episodes ad-free and new episodes coming.

About the Author Erica House

Erica House has her Masters in Psychology and has been teaching at the University level since 2007. She is certified as a Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine as well as a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. After quitting smoking and maintaining a 50 pound weight loss she became passionate about helping others on their journey to lifelong happiness and wellness.