Treadmill running tips

Written by Coach Hiruni Wijayaratne with RunCoachthe online training service offered at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

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You may refer to it as the “treadmill”. The boring nature aside, there are plenty of benefits to gain from using the treadmill to complete your training. Whether it’s unpleasant weather, or for safety reason (looking at your early birds and night owls), make the most of the ‘mill with these tips.

Six tips for enjoyable indoor running:

1. Always set aside 5-10 minutes to “warm up”.

Don’t start running at a high speed on the treadmill. Just as if you were outdoors, stretch lightly before starting to run. Then easy jog 5-10 minutes at a relaxed pace so that your body can prepare for the workout or run ahead. 

2. Use a slight incline.

Set the treadmill incline between 1-2%. Since there’s no wind resistance indoors, a gentle uphill better simulates outdoor running. If you are just getting started with running or a new treadmill, it’s okay to use the machine at 0%. Make it a goal to be able to run at 1% within a month. Did you know having the incline at 0% is actually like running on a slight downhill. Don’t slack off!

3. Do not hold on to the handrail or console.

These are placed for safety, not to guide your activity.  When you hold on to the rail, it hunches you over. This is not an effective running or walking form. It can cause lower and upper back pain. Keep your spin nice and straight, and pump your arms forward. 

4. Pay attention to your stride.

You should have the same stride as when you are running/ walking outside. Lots of people make the mistake of over-striding (landing heel first with your foot well ahead of your body’s center of gravity). This is because the treadmill belt helps to move you forward. To avoid this mistake, keep the belt at a pace you can manage. Keep your stride light and quick. If you have a device to track your cadence use it!

5. Do not step on or off while the treadmill is moving.

Most treadmill injuries are caused by falling or jumping off a fast moving belt. If you need a quick break, use the pause function or slow the speed of the machine to a very slow pace, and step off. To prevent needing to step off, try to be prepared with a towel, headphones, water and your phone before you get started.

6. Bring entertainment

To combat the boredom, bring music, a podcast, magazine, or movie to watch. I usually don’t recommend using headphones outside for safety reasons, but inside it’s perfectly fine. Having entertainment will prevent you from constantly checking your time and distance, and allow you to relax. 

Be sure to be aware of your form. Nice and tall spine!