7 Treadmill Running Tips for Newbies

I’ve come to terms with treadmill running, which is I’ll use it when I can’t run outside and pretend that I love it when I have to. Dang, I just reread that sentence and that came across all wrong. Still, you can tell I love outdoor running more so than treadmill running. I think it’s because in the first few months after I started running, one of the treadmill runs bit me and I have this trauma. There’s got to be a word for fear of treadmills – Treadmilobia?

Treadmill Running

Treadmill Running

Treadmill Running courtesy Guzer

Okay, so here’s what happens. I go on a business trip, it’s cold outside, don’t have my Split Toe Tabi Socks to go with my Luna Sandals just yet and I decide to just jump on the treadmill in the hotel gym. Mind you that this was just three months after I started running (ever). During the run it was very difficult not to pay attention to the calories burned, number of laps run, pace, heartbeat, distance run, elevation gain, number of steps and million other metrics that were glaring back at me. Maybe it was the incline or the [mis] calibration, but the pace read 9 miles/minute, while my body was telling me I was going faster. But I ignored it and kept at it and ended up with sore ankles for a week. All because I refused to listen to my body and focused too much on vanity metrics.

That said, treadmill running can be convenient, especially during inclement weather. You can also create interesting challenges by varying the incline and/or the speed, even if there aren’t any hills in your neighborhood.

Here are seven tips for treadmill running, especially if you are just starting out:

  1. Don’t run with an incline setting of zero – that’s similar to downhill running and can bust your knees if you don’t know what you are doing
  2. Set the speed to a comfortable pace and make sure you don’t over-stride – short pitter patter steps or setting the metronome to 180 cadence can help you here
  3. To break the monotony, change speed and/or incline periodically – I like doing intervals of 10 minutes which I further break into 6, 1.5, 1, 0.5 where I will progressively increase the speed or the incline each cycle
  4. Set your watch to a certain time and run for that duration – the most simple way if you are just starting out
  5. Load up your iGadget with your favorite 180 cadence songs - helps you get into the rhythm of things, though I personally don’t listen to music when I’m running outside
  6. If your treadmill has a built-in television screen, watch the angle of your neck – don’t look down
  7. Drape a towel over the display and forget about vanity metrics (until your timer expires)

Do you like treadmill running? What other tips would you give to runners that are starting out?

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  • DJ

    The treadmill is also great for doing interval work on time/elevation. For example, I’ll do 30 min run segments where I’ll keep a steady pace but to 1 min at 1 degree incline and another at 6. The do the same with a fixed incline with a set speed and increase it. There are a number of pyramid workouts that are out there that are great workouts.

    • http://freeradical.me/ kowsik

      Yup, that’s a fun one. I divvy up a 10-minute interval into 6, 2.5, 1 and 0.5 minutes and either increase the speed in steps (to the max) or the inclination and then do repeats. But I’ll take running like a barbarian through the redwoods any day :)