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NYC Running Mama: Treadmill Workouts

It’s that time of year again when more and more runners turn to the treadmill as a safe way to stay in shape and train for those big spring races. Most of us are usually kicking and screaming whenever we have to log more than a couple of miles.  But you don’t have to loathe your treadmill time! It can be an awesome – and dare I say fun? – training tool.

Below are some workouts that will keep you entertained and help make the miles (or tenths of a mile!) tick by while also getting a good, hard workout in.

400m Hill Repeats

Hill workouts are a great way to get stronger and faster. They can take the place of an interval or tempo workout for the week. This workout has you running fast uphill (400 meters) and recovering slower as you run down (400 meters). Note: For the treadmill workout, the incline will be set at 0% for the downhill portion.

Start with 4-5 repeats and gradually increase the number of repetitions.

  • Warmup: 5-20 minutes
  • Increase incline to 4.5% and increase pace to a difficult, yet sustainable level (roughly 10-15 seconds slower than half marathon pace). Run .25 miles.
  • Reduce incline to 0% and decrease pace to recovery pace. Run .25 miles.
  • Repeat: 4-5 times (or more if you are a more experienced runner).
  • Cooldown: 5-20 minutes

Descending Ladder Workout

This is a fun, yet challenging interval workout that gives you a good range of speeds to tackle. You start with 10 minutes of hard running and gradually work your way down to 2 minutes of hard running. The pace gets faster as the intervals get shorter – but the recovery stays the same throughout (2 minutes).

This workout is 30 minutes of running (not including the warmup or cooldown). It can easily be tailored for shorter or longer mileage by increasing/decreasing the warmup and/or cooldown or increasing/decreasing start time (start with 12 or 8 minutes).

  • Warmup: 5-20 minutes
  • Start with 10 minutes of hard running (roughly half marathon pace).
  • Recover with 2 minutes (recovery pace)
  • Repeat with 8, 6, 4 and 2 minutes of hard running (pace increases for each 2 minute interval)
  • Recover with 2 minutes (recovery pace)
  • Cooldown: 5-20 minutes

Rolling Hills

This is typically what I do when I have easy-paced miles to run but am forced to the treadmill, due to weather, time or child situation. It helps mimic outside running and keep my mind occupied so the run doesn’t feel like a lifetime.

Since it’s meant to be an easy-paced run, the pace stays pretty consistent throughout. The only thing you are changing is the elevation. Each rolling hill segment is 10 minutes with a 5 minute segment of 0% incline.

  • Warmup: 5-15 minutes
  • Increase incline to .5% – run for 120 seconds
  • Increase inline to 1.0% – run for 90 seconds
  • Increase incline to 1.5% – run for 60 seconds
  • Increase incline to 2.0% – run for 30 seconds
  • Decrease incline to 1.5% – run for 60 seconds
  • Decrease incline to 1.0% – run for 90 seconds
  • Decrease incline to .5% – run for 120 seconds
  • Repeat as necessary
  • Cooldown: 5-20 minutes

Strength + Speed

This workout combines short, fast spurts of running with strength work (lunges) sandwiched between easy running. The lunges will strengthen your legs and the speed portion helps teach you to run fast with fatigued legs.

It is an 8 min long set which can be used as a stand-alone workout OR added to the end of another workout (do 2-3 sets instead of 5+).

NYC Running Mama

Michele Gonzalez is a mom of two young boys, a marathoner, Ironman and ultrarunner. She is a West Point grad and former Army Captain/Iraqi Veteran x3, as well as an ambassador for Sparkly Soul Headbands, Garmin and Generation UCAN. She blogs at