treadmill workout

For most runners, getting outdoors in the fresh air is all part of the enjoyment, but there are times – it’s blowing a gale, you’re staying in a hotel, you’re on your lunch break – when the dreaded treadmill is your only option.

The treadmill allows you to gauge your effort and pace perfectly

Don’t think of it as second best. Used wisely, the treadmill can provide a darn good running workout. It allows you to gauge your effort and pace perfectly, and the humidity of the gym can even help you acclimatise to heat, meaning you run better in warmer conditions

So turn off MTV, pick up the pace, and get ready to sweat with these three treadmill workouts from top running coach Nick Anderson of RunningWithUs.

Unless otherwise stated, set the treadmill to a 1% incline to replicate running on the road.

Click right for the following treadmill sessions:

  1. The leg-strengthening hill session
  2. The 5k-10k PB maker
  3. The speed and endurance sandwich

Treadmill hill

This 20-minute session builds leg strength, helping you run longer and stronger, and reducing your risk of injury. As you get fitter, you can extend this session, adding another block of hill running each week.

The session:

5 mins warm up

Warm up at an easy pace with the treadmill set at a 1% incline.

60-90 seconds hill climb

Pick up the gradient to around 10% and run for 60-90 seconds at a speed you find manageable. This shouldn’t be a flat out sprint, but a consistent controlled effort – you should be able to utter three or four words but not have a full-on conversation.

90 seconds active recovery

Return the incline to 0 and run steady for 90 seconds to recover.

Repeat the hill and flat phase x 5 sets

treadmill fast

Want to improve your 5k or 10k personal best (PB)? Try this beast of a session lasting just over 30 minutes. The last three intervals should feel tough as they’re quicker than the first three. This gets you used to running when fatigued and helps develop your mental strength – after all, the secret to a good race is being strong in the second half.

The session:

5 minutes warm up

Warm up at an easy pace with the treadmill set at a 1% gradient.

3 minutes at 10k PB pace

Set the treadmill at a speed that reflects your fastest 10k pace or race day target. For example, if it takes you 60 minutes to run 10k flat out, the treadmill would be at 10km/hr.

90 seconds jog recovery

Bring down the pace and jog to recover.

Repeat x 3 sets

3 minutes at 5k PB pace

Now take the treadmill up to your fastest 5k pace or race day target. This should be quicker than your 10k pace. So if you can run 5k in 27 minutes, you’d be taking the speed up to 10.9km/hr.

90 seconds jog recovery

Repeat x 3 sets

treadmill workout

If you want to be a faster runner, it means including some faster running intervals in your training. This 30-minute session is a double whammy, working on your speed and endurance at the same time, perfect if you’re looking to complete a distance event – from 5k to a marathon.

The session:

5 minutes warm up

Warm up at an easy pace with the treadmill set at a 1% gradient.

60 secs at 5k pace

Take the treadmill up to your fastest 5k pace. So if you can run 5k in 27 minutes, you’d be taking the speed up to 10.9km/hr.

60 secs jog recovery

Take the speed down to a comfortable jogging pace to recover.

Repeat x 3 sets

2 minute jog

Jog at a steady comfortable pace for 2 minutes to prepare you for your next burst of effort.

6 minutes threshold run

Run at your 10k pace for 5-6 minutes. For example, if it takes you 60 minutes to run 10k, the treadmill would be at 10km/hr. This should feel uncomfortable but not a flat out sprint. You should be able to utter three or four words but not have a full-on conversation.

2 minute jog recovery

3 x 60 seconds at just faster than 5k pace with 60 secs jog recovery

Repeat your initial sprint/jog sets to finish.

You might also be interested in Nick Anderson's 10k training plan for beginners