If you have access to a treadmill, view it as a tool in your toolkit. Learning how to run on the treadmill properly and what the benefits are can lead to significant improvements in your running.
Frequently Asked Questions – How to Run on a Treadmill:
How should a beginner run on a treadmill?
If you’re a new runner, make sure you begin every run with a warmup. Then, alternate between very light running and walking. Some beginner runners may only run for 30 seconds at a time before walking, and others may run for a minute or two. This will vary person to person.
How long should you run on a treadmill?
Again, this will depend on the person. A new runner may be on the treadmill for less than 30 minutes, while a more experienced runner who’s training for a marathon, for example, may be completing their long run on the treadmill. As always, focus on you and your training only, not what other people are doing.
How to Run on the Treadmill – 11 Do’s and Don’ts:
- Familiarize yourself with the features and buttons – If you recently purchased your treadmill or are new to running altogether, learn the different functions before running on it. For example, learn how to start and stop the belt, adjust the speed and incline, read the total distance and time, and attach the safety clip to yourself.
- Warmup – Wherever you’re running, a warmup should always be a part of your routine. Before your run, make sure you’re doing some glute activation exercises and dynamic stretching.
- Use the safety clip – Hopefully you won’t need it, but better safe than sorry. Attach the clip to your clothing and if you fall off the treadmill, the clip will remove the key from the treadmill and the belt will stop moving immediately, minimizing the possibility of an injury.
- Don’t hold onto the handrails or console – If you feel you’re running too fast and need to hold onto the handrails to stay steady, slow down until you’re running comfortably enough without holding on. Your arms should be swinging forward to back.
- Focus on your form – Is there a mirror in front of your treadmill? If so, this is a perfect opportunity to practice your form. For example, look at your arms. Are they swinging forward to back? Or, are they swinging side to side and crossing your midline? Additionally, if there is a mirror to your side, check out your stride and where your feet are landing.
- Watch your step – Try not to run right in front of the center console. Ideally, you want to stay centered on the running deck so your feet don’t land on the very front of the treadmill. Your feet should only be landing on the belt.
- Hydrate and fuel – Treadmills have cup holders which is perfect for your water bottle and fuel. Instead of carrying your fuel yourself, take advantage and store it here.
- Don’t call it a “dreadmill” – Change your mindset! There are many benefits of running on the treadmill and you can still log quality miles and crush your training while on it.
- Vary the incline, if needed – If your race is particularly hilly or on the trails, you can mimic the course by changing the incline throughout your run. However, you do not need to increase the incline for every run. Do what feels best for you. You can still run quality miles while keeping the incline at 0%.
- Listen to music, podcasts or watch a show or movie – Use your time on the treadmill to multitask. Catch up on your favorite tv show or watch a new movie you’ve been eager to see.
- Be careful when stopping – Whether you’re running or walking, slowly decrease your speed until you’re at a standstill before stepping off the treadmill.
Here are 5 Benefits of Running on the Treadmill:
1. Improve your mental strength
While some people find the treadmill boring, know you can still run quality miles while on it. Instead of viewing it as the “dreadmill”, shift your thinking and focus on how you’re actively building mental strength.
2. Run safely
Running on the treadmill can provide a safer environment than running outside. For instance, if it’s dark out or there’s ice or a heatwave, running on the treadmill will remove these risk factors. Safety is always the most important thing, so always run wherever you feel the safest.
3. Reduce joint impact
Unlike concrete and cement, the treadmill belt is cushioned and reduces both the stress and impact on your joints.
4. Choose your speed and incline
If you’re looking to practice slowing down or are targeting a goal race pace, you can easily set the treadmill to whatever pace or effort you’re aiming for. For example, some runners have a hard time slowing down on their easy run days. On the treadmill, you are in control and can set your speed to be slower than what you’re used to. This gives you practice at running at a slower pace, which hopefully translates to easier effort running when outside.
One other positive about the treadmill is that you can choose the incline. For instance, if you’re training for a hilly race or a trail race, you have the option to change the incline so it mimics the course. Keep in mind, you do not need to increase the incline for every run. Do what feels best for you. You can still run quality miles while keeping the incline at 0%.
Related: Rate of Perceived Effort Guide
5. Added flexibility
It’s possible you find yourself on the treadmill more during the winter or summer because of inclement weather. Or maybe you’re a parent of young children and aren’t able to leave them home alone while you run. Whatever the reason may be, the treadmill is an awesome tool to have in your tool kit and can be very useful if you need some flexibility.
Related: 9 Tips for Cold Weather Running
Recap of How to Run on the Treadmill and Benefits:
- Familiarize yourself with the features and buttons
- Use the safety clip
- Don’t hold onto the handrails or console
- Focus on your form
- Watch your step
- Hydrate and fuel
- Don’t call it a “dreadmill”
- Vary the incline, if needed
- Listen to music, podcasts or watch a show or movie
- Be careful when stopping
Planning to Run a Spring Race?
Do you run on the treadmill? If so, what’s something you enjoy about treadmill running?