Making time for outdoor training sessions with less daylight can be tricky. The treadmill is a good alternative. Sure, treadmill running is certainly not everyone’s favourite thing to do, but in this guide, we share with you some essential treadmill running tips so you can enjoy an effective, safe and productive workout, whatever the weather.
How to run on a treadmill
Treadmill running might look easy, but the first couple of times you step on a treadmill can be quite treacherous if you don’t follow a few basic safety tips. When running on a treadmill, you should run in the same way as you would outside, that is, by using your natural gait and maintaining nice long strides. If you’re struggling to find a comfortable running form, just take some of the pace off the treadmill until you get it right. You can then increase the pace gradually. Once you get going, you should follow these simple steps:
- Don’t look down – The temptation is to constantly look down at your feet to check you’re running in the centre of the treadmill. All that’s likely to do is impact your form and potentially cause back and neck pain. Instead, run tall, look ahead and keep your body nice and straight.
- Don’t lean forward – As your feet are being pulled backwards, there is a tendency to lean forward to compensate. Leaning forward too much could cause neck and back pain and reduce the efficiency of your run. While you run, check that your shoulders are directly above your hips and pull in your abs to keep your posture in check.
- Don’t hold onto the handrails – Initially, you might think about holding onto the handrails for extra stability. However, all you’re doing by holding the handrails is lightening your load and making life easier on yourself. Instead, act if the handrails aren’t even there. If you feel you need to hold them for stability, it means you’re either going too fast or running at too great an incline.
- Don’t step on the treadmill when it’s moving – Stepping on and off the treadmill when it’s moving is one of the biggest causes of treadmill injuries, so make sure you have everything you need (a towel, hydration, headphones, etc.) before you start your run.
Warm up first
You should warm up properly before every treadmill session. A five-minute brisk walk or slow jog to start will raise your heart rate, oxygenate your muscles and increase your temperature so you’re ready for the real work to begin. You can then gradually increase the pace and/or the incline.
Set a slight incline
Treadmill running without setting an incline is equivalent to running on a slight decline outdoors. That’s due to the fact that there’s no wind resistance indoors and no variation in the terrain. We’d advise you to set a 1–2% incline to make sure you’re working as hard as you would outdoors.
Pop those headphones in
One of the benefits of treadmill running is that you can safely listen to music or your favourite podcast to help pass the time. Using headphones while running outside can be dangerous, particularly if you’re running in a built-up area, so the treadmill provides the opportunity for a little more escapism.
Drink plenty of water
Training indoors often means a hot environment where you sweat a lot more on a treadmill than you would running the equivalent distance outside. Make sure there’s a bottle of water within easy reach and aim to drink at least 200 millilitres of water for every 20 minutes of running.
*The benefits of running on a treadmill
There are numerous benefits associated with running on a treadmill. Perhaps the most obvious is being able to maintain your training regime in any kind of weather. Another important benefit that’s often overlooked is the better shock absorption treadmill running provides relative to pavements, concrete and asphalt. That can help to reduce impact injuries and the stress on your ankles, feet and knees. It’s also much safer than running outside, with no traffic, bicycles, pedestrians or dogs to navigate.
Perhaps the most important benefit of treadmill running is the ability to control your pace precisely while accurately tracking your time and distance covered. Many runners have difficulty maintaining a consistent pace and often start their run quickly. The treadmill allows you to maintain an even pace throughout your run and potentially finish with a flourish if you still have some energy to burn towards the end of your workout.