Running for fitness, weight loss, or simply as an aerobic exercise remains popular for good reasons. It’s simple, convenient, and functional. Running on a treadmill makes this simple workout even more accessible. Whether transitioning to the treadmill during the winter months or starting a running program for the first time, a running treadmill offers some distinct training advantages. Here’s what you need to know get started running on a treadmill.
Whether you’re running indoors or outdoors, start gradually. If you haven’t run before, try a run/walk program. Start with five minutes of walking to warm up, then alternate running and walking for one minute at a time for 15 minutes. Finish with walking for five minutes. Each week you can increase the time spent walking by one minute per interval until you are up to running for a full 20 minutes.
While the running surface of a treadmill provides more cushion than running outdoors, the impact and intensity of running can still result in discomfort and soreness as you get started. Most running related injuries, especially shin splints, are the result of increasing mileage or intensity too quickly. If you’re new to running, start with two or three 20 minute running workouts each week. Expect some soreness, especially after your first workouts. If you notice a lot of soreness in the front of your shins, give yourself an extra recovery day (you can walk instead). This will improve quickly over the weeks. As you add mileage or time, stick to increases of ten percent in time or mileage each week.
While it’s tempting to focus on how many miles you run in each workout, the clock is a better measure of early success. Build up the total time spent running in your workouts each week until you are able to run for twenty minutes consecutively. Once you reach this benchmark, start to add mileage on to your runs, especially if you are working towards a goal of training for your first road race. When you’re ready to get faster, you can choose specific running workouts that will get you faster (here are few good ones!) and increase your fitness (try these simple workouts!)
What to Wear
Dress for running on the treadmill is similar to running outdoors. You’ll want shoes that are specifically for running. A local running store is a great resource to help you choose your first pair. Many runners, especially larger runners, initially benefit from shoes that offer additional stability and support for the arch. You may also be more comfortable with some level of cushioning as you grow stronger and acclimated to the impact of running. Running clothes don’t need to be fancy. Ladies, you’ll be more comfortable wearing a sports bra that provides good support and allows for easier movement. Wear something that you’re comfortable sweating in and that allows you to move freely.
What Treadmill is Best for Me?
Finally, know that not just any treadmill will work well for running. A running treadmill has more space to allow for stride length and changes in movement during your workout. Look for a belt that is at 20 inches. 22 inches or more is even better, especially for taller runners. Additionally, don’t undervalue the power of the motor (read up on that here). A high quality, continuous output motor will result in a smoother run for you, especially if you’re a larger or faster runner.
A treadmill is a big investment that you won’t want to repeat, so consider the features you will use over time. Music integration and virtual active technology that allows you to bring immersive experiences into your workouts will make long runs more enjoyable. Heart rate monitor integration will help you become a faster and more efficient runner. Be sure that your treadmill offers incline options. To more closely replicate the experience of running outdoors, you should increase your incline to 1 or 2 percent to compensate for the assistance that the treadmill provides your leg in returning to the start position. Additionally, many machines offer pre-programmed workouts that range from aerobic to interval and take the guess work out of planning your training week.
Treadmill running is a great workout on its own, or as a complement to training outdoors. Treadmill running is convenient and gives you the option of being greater control of your workouts. You can choose pre-programmed workouts that focus on speed, incline, or heart rate and you can deliberately set your pace to challenge you to become faster. Additionally, the cushioning provided by the treadmill deck lets you continue your training while reducing some of the stress of running outdoors. Having a running treadmill in your home makes sticking to your training plan possible when bad weather or busy schedules get in the way. If you’re running on a treadmill to lose weight or increase fitness, you can stick to the treadmill for all of your runs. If you decide to train for a road race or event, alternating treadmill running with outdoor runs will fully prepare you for your big day while letting you enjoy the comfort and convenience of a treadmill in your home.
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.