Let’s face it, the treadmill can be a little boring. Necessary evil in the middle of winter or heat of summer, but almost no one’s favorite place to run. That being said, the treadmill offers some great training opportunities that can also reduce “treadmill dread.” Because it’s a controlled environment, it can be a great place to practice a marathon pace or attempt a workout that you aren’t sure you’re totally ready for; after all, you can always tone down the pace if you find that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Here are my favorite treadmill workouts that don’t even require a towel thrown over the display:
1. The Progression Run. The ultimate boredom buster, this gives you a little workout stimulus and keeps you entertained. Warmup at your regular run pace then add .1 to your speed every minute for 15 minutes. Assuming you don’t do your regular runs incredibly slowly or your tempo runs fast (too fast, I might add), this should end you right around your tempo speed. Return to your regular run pace for 2 minutes and repeat 1 to 2 more times.
- You can also do this as a pyramid; build for 15 and step back down by .1 for 15. This is a much harder version because you’re spending a lot more time at higher speeds but another great way to shove your fitness forward.
2. The Wave Run. Warmup at your regular run pace then begin sets of 1 minute at interval pace, 1 minute at cruise pace. Your cruise pace should be harder than your regular run pace but easier than marathon pace. I usually set my cruise pace about 30 seconds faster than my regular run. Repeat 1 hard, 1 cruise for 30 minutes. Although you get a “break” between hard segments, it’s much faster than you usually go and works on running fast on tired legs.
- If you want to focus on endurance, you can swap to 2 minutes at interval, 1 minute at cruise. If you want to focus on speed, do 1 minute at R-pace (faster than interval) and 2 minutes at cruise.
3. Mount Von Gym. Warmup at your regular run pace then add 1.0 of incline every minute up to 10%. By the end, you should be working hard. If not, consider that your regular pace may be too slow! Recover for 4 minutes on flat then climb up to 10% again. Repeat up to two more times for a total of 40 minutes of climbing.
A note on treadmill effort: there are various schools of thought about what adjustments are needed for the treadmill to be “equivalent” to outdoors. I’m in the camp that finds treadmill running much harder than outdoors; the stagnate air really bothers my lungs and I feel that my effort is way above my pace most days. For other people, the treadmill is easier than outside. One commonly accepted strategy to compensate for the lack of wind resistance is to adjust your incline to 1.0. Another adjustment calculator is here if you need it. I don’t tend to use 1.0 when I’m doing more speed oriented stuff but I do for warmup/cooldown and for tempo oriented runs.
What treadmill workouts are your go-tos? How do you fight treadmill boredom?