4 Best treadmill workouts for runners

Sometimes it’s much easier to head indoors and run on the treadmill, however, you needn’t fear… with these treadmill workouts for runners, you’ll get in a great sweat and training session.

Running on the treadmill is one of those things, you either love it or hate it. Despite the many benefits of treadmill running including the ability to get a run in on even the coldest of days, running uphill safely and protecting our joints, running on the treadmill can often become quite monotonous, decreasing our motivation to train and or run as no human should be staring at a blank wall for so long.

Nonetheless, despite the potentially boring nature of running on the treadmill, there is a wide variety of treadmill workouts for runners to enjoy, improving your aerobic fitness, essential to running further and faster.

However, first, let’s discuss why you should consider hitting some of your workouts on the treadmill compared to your usual running terrain.

Why should you choose a treadmill workout for runners?

Running on surfaces such as tarmac and concrete is especially impactful on the joints, particularly the knees. This is because when we run we place anywhere between 1.5 to 3x our body weight through our joints each and every step. As you can see, throughout the entire duration of your run that’s quite a lot of steps, thus resulting in quite the pounding for our joints – not ideal, we know.

So, what can we do to combat this? While we’re not saying don’t run on harder surfaces, we are saying to minimise running on these types of surfaces as much as possible, minimising any impact which can be avoided, therefore, reducing our risk of picking up an impact-related injury. Instead, we can run on softer surfaces such as the trails or fells, grass, or, of course, a trip to your local gym to run on the treadmill.

Opting for a treadmill workout for runners is especially popular as when running fast, we increase our risk of impact injury once again, therefore, substituting the road for the treadmill once in a while will reduce this risk of injury while allowing you to run in a much more controlled environment.

Likewise, treadmill workouts for runners allow you to solely focus on your run and or workout compared to dodging cars, avoiding pedestrians or other road users – a great piece of equipment to make use of especially if you live in a busy area.

Converting from min/mile or km/mile

Often at the gym, the treadmills are set to km/mile, if you’re not used to running using this metric it can be quite challenging attempting to workout conversion math while chasing a sub-5-minute mile, it’s just not going to happen.

Therefore, before starting your treadmill workout we recommend making note whether this is on your hand or on your phone of your goal converted speeds – you can do this using the treadmill conversion chart from Runner’s World.  

Without further or do, here’s four treadmill workouts for runners.

1. 5x1km repeats (great for 5k training)

An all-time classic running workout, and not just on the treadmill. Kilometre repeats are the holy grail when it comes to breaking your 5k personal best. Not only are these super simple to do, but they will also elevate your heart rate rapidly while having you fight and hold some of your fastest speeds.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 1km warm-up jog at an easy pace 1km at 10k pace or slightly faster 
  • 3 minute recovery jog 
  • Repeat 5x 
  • 1km cooldown jog at an easy pace 

Related: 8 Tips to help you beat your parkrun personal best.

2. Hill workout

One of the more handy features of the treadmill is the incline button, this handy little switch allows us to replicate running uphill indoors, all without the risk of taking a tumble (granted you don’t go too steep!).

For this hill treadmill workout, we will be gradually increasing the incline as the run goes on, testing and improving our strength while giving our lungs quite some punishment.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 5-minute easy warmup jog 
  • 5-6 minutes 2% incline 
  • 6-7 minutes 4% incline 
  • 7-8 minutes 2% incline
  • 8-9 minutes 6% incline 
  • 9-10 minutes 8% incline
  • Repeat 3x 
  • 5-minute easy cool down jog 

3. Simple intervals

Yep, you bet simple intervals are just as good on a treadmill, if not better due to the controlled conditions and reduced wind? We’ll let you argue on that one.

These intervals consist of short bouts of fast-paced running, ideally anywhere between your current 5k and 10k pace, testing your body, but not killing it – allowing it to make those essential adaptations to become faster.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 5-minute easy warmup jog
  • 5-7 minutes fast
  • 7-8 minutes recovery jog
  • 8-12 minutes fast
  • 12-14 minutes recovery jog 
  • 14-18 minutes fast
  • 18-20 minutes recovery jog 
  • 20-22 minutes fast
  • 22-23 minutes recovery jog
  • 23-28 minutes fast
  • 28-30 recovery jog
  • 5-minute easy cool down jog 

4. Beginner treadmill workout

If you’ve recently just started running and either want to get faster or want to be able to run for longer, then this treadmill workout is for you. The breaks between the intervals are walk breaks to best prepare you for each interval.

Here’s how to do it:

  • 5-minute warmup walk
  • 5-7 minutes at a strong effort
  • 7-9 minutes walk
  • 9-11 minutes at a strong effort
  • 11-13 minutes walk
  • 13-15 minutes at a strong effort
  • Repeat until 30-minutes

This beginner treadmill workout will have you running at a strong effort for ten-minutes, improving your aerobic endurance session by session. If struggling to maintain what we call a “strong effort” you can instead stick to a much more comfortable speed or even resort to walking if needed. 

The bottom line

There are a wide variety of treadmill workouts for runners out there, however, here’s four of our best designed to cater for many different needs. We recommend including up to one or two of these sessions per week into your training routine, especially if you mainly train on the treadmill. However, including these treadmill workouts too frequently into your training will more than likely result in injury.

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