Treadmill Running Tips


When the weather conditions are not favourable for safe enjoyable running outside its time to train inside.
It can be predictable but not boring as you are able to complete a precise session and then compare your performance next time.
You can control the speed, heart rate and exact time to the second you train.
No wind, hills, uneven road surfaces and other road users to worry about when running indoors on a treadmill

Treadmill running is different from road running because once the foot lands on the surface, it moves back but the running mechanics and forces are the same.
The leg needs to compensate and maintain stability during treadmill running due to the leg moving backwards after landing.
The major difference is we are not moving forward.

Treadmill running should never be boring you can do something different each time.

All sessions should include a warm up and warm down.
8 minute warm up increasing speed every 2 minutes
6 minute warm down, reducing speed straight away by 40 seconds per Km for 2 minutes then reduce speed further by 40 seconds per KM for 2 minutes then finally slow down by another 40 seconds per Km for the final 2 minutes.
Avoid the most common mistakes during the recovery.
Don’t run too slow its better to walk.
During the recovery make sure you slow down otherwise this will not help with recovery.
Set the treadmill inclination between 1% & 3% because a gentle uphill stimulates outdoor running and reduces the chances of injury occurring.


Running at ironman pace in training is often neglected because its 30-80 seconds a KM slower than a fresh marathon. If you fail to run at a similar steady pace in training come race day you will struggle with locking into the correct speed and go out too fast and end up underperforming. This is the most common Ironman mistake. At first it may seem incredibly slow and can be 3 minutes slower than your current 10km race pace, you will feel awkward but now is the time to learn to lock into ironman marathon pace.

Ironman marathon running specific session
Build up from 2 x 5 minute blocks (take 1 minute recovery walking) between each 5 minutes. 2nd week complete a 10 minute non-stop session the following week 12 minutes and the 3rd week 15 minutes 4th week 3 x 3 minutes take 1 minute recovery walking between each segment. Repeat again weeks 5-8

The best runners in the world run 180-186 steps per minute.
A good way is to count your strides, you should aim for 22-23 strides every 15 seconds for the right leg, this will give you the correct stride rate.
Taking too many strides then you need to lengthen your stride length or too few take shorter quicker strides.
Practise this towards the end of the warm up and then increase pace to 30 seconds slower than your 10km fresh race pace and count your strides every minute
Session. Warm up pace should be at least 2 minutes per mile slower than current 10km race pace.
After warm up continue at same pace and count strides then increase speed every minute by 15 seconds per km. Continue until you reach 15 seconds below fresh 10km race pace. Establish180 strides changes in relation to the change of speed. This session should take you 8-12 minutes

Run Walk strategy 20-30 minutes
Few of us want to walk during the marathon and lose precious time but even the sub 3 hour elite ironman athletes slow down or walk thru the feed stations to get enough fluid and calories so you don’t slow down when running.
If you fail to practise, once you slow down during a feed station you will struggle to get going again.
Run at 15- 20 seconds quicker per KM than predicted Ironman pace for 2 minutes then walk for 30 seconds and repeat

As you progress each week practise by running as long as it will take for you to run between aid stations for your particular Ironman (feed stations distances vary at each event) then walk for 30 seconds.
Continue this for 20-30 minutes.

Run to the heart beat
Music is a no go, be in tune with your body and heart beat. Estimate what your heart rate is and check to see how close you are to what it is.

Armless running (harm –less running)
Try this first at your warm up pace then each week increase the speed and first you need to have relaxed arms with elbows at 90 degrees with the forearms just above parallel with the ground. If it feels comfortable then you have the correct position
Run dropping the arms to isolate working the legs
Once you can run effortless and balanced without your arms you will find you will run more balanced and faster using your arms.
Completing this session on the road can result in slowing down.
Session 1
Main set
Hands dropped down by your side for 20 seconds then arms in normal position for 40 seconds (1 set = 60 seconds)
Repeat 15 times = 15 minutes
Monitor your heart rate. As you improve you should see little difference in the fatigue from your legs and heart rate fluctuations.
Progression session increase hands by side 25 seconds week 2 then 30 seconds week 3 then 35 seconds week 4
Session 2
Run at 80% run heart rate for 2 minute then drop your arms for another 1 minute. Repeat this non-stop session 5 times.

Looking ahead
Head in a neutral relaxed position with eyes focused forward on a spot, if your head bobs up and down it will be difficult to look at one point ahead.

Variable running session
Drop hands to your side and once heart rate rises 10 beats per minute use your arms for 30 seconds then drop hands to your side.
Run for a total time of 20 minutes.
Progression is when your heart rate only rises by 5 beats per minute.

Fatigue fighter session – Improving tolerance to fatigue
Our ability to perform when fatigued is paramount to optimum performance.
Doing track intervals hard as possible and hanging on is fool hardy unless you are a track runner, for triathletes we need to be able to race just below the red zone.

The good news is a treadmill can improve you coping with fatigue.

Session Total time for main set 12 or 18 minutes

Main set 5 minute segments
Run 3 minutes @ half marathon race pace then increase to 10km race pace for a further 1 minute.
Recovery between each rep is 2 minutes easy running.
Repeat this set 2 – 3 times
The following week increase race pace effort by 0.2 kmph then week 3 increase again by 0.2 kmph then 4th week repeat week 1.

Hill session with a difference.
Unless you are training to run from top to bottom of a hill we often struggle after getting to the top of a hill and fail to pick up the pace.
Main set 7 minutes repeat 2-3 times with 2 minute walking between each repetition.

2 minutes @ 10km pace at elevation 4 then 1 minute at elevation 5 for 30 seconds at elevation 6 then 1 minute at elevation 5 for 2 minutes at level 4 then finally 1 minute at elevation 2.
Purpose is to increase the incline while maintain the same speed then learn to stride out at the end when tired.
Each week increase elevation by one increment. You will know when the incline is too steep.
Once at 20 % you should then consider increasing the speed rather than the incline.

2 x 10 Minutes at predicted race pace. 3 minute easy running between reducing speed by 25%.
Most of us can run faster on a treadmill than we can on the road so we can often run at race pace more easily on a treadmill.
Do this session every other week.
Build up hill simulation sessions on a treadmill over many months to avoid Achilles tendon and calf injuries.

Key coaching points
Look for heart rate to rise towards end of 10 minute segment.

Focus on..
Running close to the front of the treadmill helps keep our style tidy flapping arms and legs on a treadmill will soon hit something.                            
Key coaching point (KCP) lean to run in a small confined area like at the start of a running race with many other runners in close proximately.

Mirror image.
Running in front of the mirror you can watch how symmetrical you are.
We need to be balanced so It is vital that both arms do the same, the opposite leg will be affected even by a dropped wrist.
Keep your head still.

Quiet running
Noise can be caused from spending too much time making contact with the ground. Fast runners are quiet & spend less time with feet contacting the ground.

Speed drinking – down in one
Learn to drink while running fast.
Find a comfortable speed (marathon pace) and drink from a drinks bottle increase the pace by 0.2 kmph. Allow the treadmill to help you run fast and repeat drinking at speed.
Once you have learnt to drink running fast then you will easily be able to cope with running and drinking at feed stations without slowing down and losing time.

Treadmill shoes
Asics have a Treadmill specific running shoe called Asics Gel Treadmill.

Gyms at busy times can have a time limit.

With any type of exercise have a full medical check up first before taking part in strenuous training

Mark has crossed the finish line in over 1,000 races in 17 countries from the mile to 100km Ironman inlcuding many multi-stage races. He has a best marathon time of 2:24:40.

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