Sure, you might feel slower running on a treadmill during the late fall and winter than you would training outside in the warmer months. But a lot of that has to do with your mindset. You can get more from the belt—beyond jogging on an incline.
It’s time to dust off your sneakers and revamp your indoor running. Follow these tips below to work on form, simulate a race, and monitor your rhythm—all without having to brave the elements.
Mix It Up
Take advantage of the stationary benefit: Running on a treadmill puts heart rate and pace stats at your fingertips, giving you ultimate control over effort and speed. Try an anything-goes workout: increase your incline for the first interval, then activate the quads, calves, and hamstrings with a decline descent. Close with a challenging incline run that picks up the pace. “If someone runs at 1% incline and another person mixes it up—and runs on a 1%-3% incline on hilly terrain—the person who’s running hills is probably going to have more fun and get in a better workout,” says Jenny Hadfield, running coach and author of Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life with Running. Don’t feel like overthinking? Use the treadmill’s constant momentum as motivation to run a low-level hill program or an interval workout.
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Don’t go all-out. “It’s one thing to push yourself to extremes, but you can actually get a better workout by tuning into what’s happening to your body during the day,” says Hadfield. If you’re following up a hard day on the trails with a treadmill run, pushing through another hilly workout will cause further fatigue and detriment. Instead, break up high intensity workouts, and ebb and flow between hard and easy to avoid hitting a point of diminishing returns. Follow a hill workout with a cross training day or easy day of flat terrain.