The treadmill gets a bad rap. It can be boring and it doesn't feel "authentic" compared to running on the road or trails, but it serves an excellent purpose. For those of you who maybe can't hit the pavement due to time constraints, safety, health reasons, or weather, the treadmill is your best running buddy.
Below are three treadmill running workouts that will build your endurance for race season. All of the distances in these workouts are measured in meters, which should be something you can easily adjust on your treadmill. If not, bust out your calculator: the formula for converting meters to miles is mi = m ÷ 1,609.344. Who doesn't love a little math lesson with their workout?
Before taking on any of the following workouts, be sure to properly warm up with an easy 800-meter run followed by some dynamic stretching. After each workout, cool down with another easy 800 meters and more stretching to help flush out all of the lactic acid build-up.
After your warm-up, you will need to set your treadmill at an incline at which you can maintain your form and not have to hold onto the sides. Most treadmill inclines can be easily altered with the push of a button, and many have built-in rolling hill programs that can save you the trouble of pressing buttons while you run. Make sure you have a good feel for manipulating the incline before you begin.
Sprint 30 seconds at 85-90% ME (max effort), followed by a sprint downhill at 70-75% for 30 seconds, followed by a recovery 30 seconds at 55-60%. Repeat this sequence 5 times. As your endurance builds, you will be able to do more repeats, with the goal building up to about 10 rounds.
- 4×200 meters at 75% ME
- 3×200 meters at 80% ME
- 2×100 meters at 85% ME
- 1x 100 meters at 90% ME
Walk for 30 seconds after each round; full rest for 2 minutes after each set; complete each set before moving onto the next (4x200, rest 2 minutes, 3x200, rest 2 minutes, etc.).
Run 1,600 meters two times for a total of 3,200 meters (approx. 2 miles). Throughout every other 100 meters, randomly dial up your speed for an 80-85% ME sprint. Vary the length of each sprint but not the intensity. For an extra endurance challenge, add a little incline to some of the sprinting increments. Recover at a walk for three full minutes between the two 1,600-meter rounds.
Building endurance on the treadmill may sound like a droll experience, but trust me, afterwards you won't feel any less prepared than you would if you had hit the road or the trails. All you'll feel is one step closer to that PR.