Treadmill running: what you need to know

Whether it’s raining outside or you’re looking for a structured speed session, treadmill running is what you’ve been missing.


If you ask any runner, chances are they’ll have something to say about running on the treadmill. Runners either swear by them or hate them, all for very good reasons.

While neither runner is wrong, there are benefits and downsides to running on the treadmill and running outside. Whatever you choose is down to you, here’s everything you need to know about running on the treadmill.

Benefits of running on a treadmill

While running outside may be more appealing to most runners, running on the treadmill actually includes several benefits. These include:

  • Having complete control over your run
  • Easier on the joints
  • You can run whatever the weather
  • You can run uphill safely

Complete control over your run

Firstly, running on the treadmill allows complete control over your run. You’re able to control the speed, incline, and implement running workouts all while staying dry and avoiding the rain in the comfort of own home or gym.

Easier on the joints

Secondly, treadmill running is much easier on the joints than traditional road running. This is ideal when returning from injury as a runner, or to simply reduce your overall risk of injury and impact on your joints.

You can run whatever the weather

One of the main benefits to running on the treadmill, which appeals to the masses is the ability to run whatever the weather. This allows you to rest assured, knowing you’ll never miss a run while being in complete control of your session at the same time.

You can run uphill safely

The incline feature on a treadmill allows you to run uphill safely, especially when compared to fell running. Treadmill running is excellent for intense hill training without having to worry about your footing.

Downsides of running on a treadmill

While there are many benefits to treadmill running, there are also some downsides to be wary of. These include:

  • Treadmill running does not simulate downhill running
  • Treadmill running is boring
  • Incline and speed max out

Treadmill running does not simulate downhill running

While treadmills are great for up-hill training, you’ve probably realised by now that treadmills don’t include a downhill running option. This is a crucial component required in any training program, especially if competing outdoors.

Treadmill running can be boring

You were thinking it, we said it. Treadmill running can be boring. This is especially true when running long-runs or interval sessions. In fact, this is one of the main reasons runners vow not to use a treadmill, and rightfully so.

Tip: Put on some music to make treadmill running more bearable

Incline and speed max out

While it may not be a problem for most runners, treadmills do max out on both incline and speed. You may find this particularly annoying if doing steep hill sessions or sprint intervals.

Treadmill running workouts

Chances are if you can run the workout outside you can also run it on the treadmill. Treadmill running is actually pretty popular amongst a selection of runners for its workout ability.

Before running any treadmill workout, we recommend running a minimum of a 10-minute warmup followed by a 10-minute cool down at the end of your run.

Hill running

Woman running on the fells

Hill running is a particularly popular workout amongst treadmill runners. Simply set the incline to your chosen setting, select your speed, and run for a chosen duration. An example hill running workout is as follows:

  • 10-minute warmup
  • 10×1 minute at chosen incline and speed
  • 1-minute rest between each interval
  • 5-minute cooldown

Tempo running

Tempo runs can easily be run on the treadmill. A tempo run is run near our lactate threshold usually for a period of 20-minutes. An example tempo run workout is as follows:

  • 10-minute warmup
  • 20 minutes at tempo speed
  • 10-minute cooldown

Tip: To find your tempo running speed, enter your current race times into the Macmillan pace calculator.

Mile repeats

Mile repeats are an all-round great workout whether you’re training for a 5k or a marathon. An example mile repeat workout on a treadmill:

  • 10-minute warmup
  • 3×1 mile
  • 3-minute recovery between each interval
  • 10-minute cooldown

Treadmill speeds for beginners

If you’re relatively new to running, the treadmill can be great in helping you progress. We suggest doing a 30-minute treadmill run:

  • 5-minute walking warmup
  • 20-minute run at a slow, comfortable pace
  • 5-minute walking cooldown

The takeaway for beginners is not being afraid to run at a slow speed or even to walk. It’s better to complete the full 30-minutes than to go out too hard and only complete half of your run.

Why do I run slower on a treadmill?

A popular question asked by runners is, “Why do I run slower on a treadmill?” You are actually able to run faster on a treadmill due to the decreased wind resistance and the controlled environment you are in. Chances are, you may just think you’re running slower due to the monotonous feel of treadmill running.

Is it better to run on a treadmill or outside?

Running on the treadmill is easier and safer than running outside. This makes it ideal if you’re returning from an injury, or looking to reduce your risk of injury. While treadmill running is easier, this does mean your running pace outdoors will be slower.

We recommend including treadmill running into your training if you’re looking to reduce your risk of injury, are returning from a running injury, or don’t want to miss your run due to the weather.

To summarise

Treadmill running deserves a place in every runner’s training arsenal. Whether or not you’re a fan, the treadmill will reduce your risk of injury, allow you complete control over your run, and make sure you don’t miss a session whatever the weather.

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