Have Fun on a Treadmill? Yes. It’s Possible.

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Have a hard time on the treadmill? Here are some suggestions to invigorate your treadmill workout even in the dead of the 6 months of arctic purgatory, summer heat, or because of kids. Here are some tips and a fun fartlek treadmill workout to help you enjoy treadmill running.

(Have you checked out the A to Z Running Podcast? If not, let us be your companion to endure indoor running as well. We specifically have a popular episode called, “Treadmill or Dreadmill?” that gives form tips, treadmill habits, and the benefits of treadmill running as well as the dangers.)

Tips for Running on a Treadmilltips for treadmill running

Before we get started, it’s important to go over some general best practices for treadmill running.

  • Warmup, roll, and stretch as usual. Often runners forgo their normal pre-run routine when hopping on a treadmill, especially if they are at the gym. Remember it’s just as important to get in a good warm up indoors. 
  • Vary the incline. To avoid injury, it is best to vary elevation to simulate outdoor running. Many running injuries are from overuse and varying the incline will help you activate your muscles and change your push off angle and foot fall.

  • Use a fan. The fan is your friend. If it’s within your control, have a fan blowing on you. Some treadmills have a built in fan, use it!
  • Relax. Try to unclench your hands and relax your shoulders. It is a natural tendency for many people to run very stiffly on the treadmill. If you feel tense, open and close your hands and roll your shoulder back.
  • Use the safety strap. I promise you are not too cool for this. I have learned by experience that something more uncool than wearing the strap is a treadmill burn on your face.
  • Keep your eyes up. It’s easy to look down at a screen or phone. If possible, look out a window, elevate your device, or chooses a treadmill with a high mounted screen. If you are looking down, you will likely hunch and not be running with proper form. (Here are 3 simple tips that benefit every run.)

  • Don’t compare. Treadmill running, like most things, takes some getting used to. If it feels harder than running outside, that is normal. Remember the purpose of your training and run the prescribed effort.

If you want even more tips for treadmill running, check out this list of tips from The Mother Runners.

Treadmill Fartlek Workout

It’s a simple fartlek workout with great motivation and psychological benefits as well.

  1. Watch races on usatf.tv or find your favorite races on other sources.
  2. Start your run on the faster side of comfortable.
  3. Warmup at your nice clip.
  4. Begin watching any race from 800-5k.
  5. For the first 200m let the race settle.
  6. First change of leader bump your pace :20-:30 per mile.
  7. Bump speed one increment on the treadmill every time the leader changes.
  8. If no change occurs, or you are feeling like you want to pick it up, increase speed on bell lap.
  9. Go back to your steady clip in between races.
  10. Start the next race and continue until you have completed your mileage and workout objective.
  11. End with a warm up at any pace you choose to recover.
  12. As always, roll and stretch after you finish.

Check out this list of amazing races. I’ve also included Mo Farah’s Olympic win below:

Are you feeling pumped?! Me too. This is my new favorite treadmill workout. Also there is an important bonus of training our brain in this workout to increase speed during races and press at the end.

Happy treading, my friends!

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