The Treadmill: A GOOD Tool for Running Faster

The Treadmill: A GOOD Tool for Running Faster

Can you get faster by running on the treadmill? Of course.

Is it bad to run on the treadmill? No.

Can you get injured only running on the treadmill? Yes.

But can you get injured only running outdoors? Yes.

The Treadmill: A GOOD Tool for Running Faster

I’m a big proponent of treadmill running. Of course, I choose outdoors when I can, but it’s not always an option. There are plenty of reasons I chose the treadmill, including safety and weather.

A “hot take” I have is you can’t always dress for the weather.

You can’t really dress when it’s 110 degrees outside. You can’t dress to combat a tornado. Can you dress for when it’s cold? Yes. But that isn’t the only bad weather.

For my last run for the Phoenix Marathon, I ran 20 miles on the treadmill. We had gotten 2 feet of snow overnight in Rochester, New York. The roads weren’t clear; it was icy and just not safe. I could have walk-ran 20 miles outdoor, but it would have taken me half a day. It wouldn’t have been a quality run.

Was running 20 miles on the treadmill ideal? No, but did I make it happen and have a good run? Yes.

Sometimes when you’re traveling, it’s safer to run indoors. I’ve stayed in hotels that back up major highways, or honestly, I’m unfamiliar with the area, and don’t feel safe about it. When in doubt, choose safety. There is no run worth compromising your safety. 

Outside of safety, I’ve chosen the treadmill for personal reasons too. I’ve chosen the treadmill when I want to catch up on TV or when I want to run a route that I can’t in the area I live (practice uphills or downhills or even practice flat running).

Stop Using the Term Dreadmill:

Of course, if you use the word dreadmill, you will dread it. Change your mindset, and you aren’t “so cool” because you only run outdoors. I don’t get that elitist attitude about the treadmill, but it’s there.

Just like a GPS watch, good shoes, or good gear, you’ll be surprised to know a treadmill is a great tool for training.

Here are a few benefits of the treadmill:

  • Safety
  • Controlled weather
  • Catch up on TV
  • Run hills or a flat route
  • Work on proper pacing
  • Less impact with high-quality belts (yes, really)
  • No hazards such as curbs or cars
  • Can practice nutrition, hydration, or even bathroom stops

How Can You Use the Treadmill for Hills?

The benefit of running hills is one of the best tools for treadmill running. Hills build power in your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and joints. Last year, I tried to do at least one 5 mile run on the treadmill a week, getting between 800-1000 feet of elevation gain. You don’t need to run uphill the entire time and can alternate between inclines to simulate rolling hills.

How Can You Use the Treadmill For Pace Work?

Shortly before my half marathon PR, I nailed a 400 workout on the treadmill. It was icy and dangerous outdoors. I ran 12X400s hard at a 6:00 minute pace with a 2-minute jog in between. You can use the treadmill to practice paces you might “fear,” or that are “scary.” The important component is not to push the pace when it’s not right for you. Just because the treadmill goes to 12.0 mph doesn’t mean you should. That’s when injury comes out!

Here are Some Treadmill Running Tips:

Don’t Hold onto the Handrail:

Holding onto the Handrail alters your form, and it doesn’t give you the full benefit of running. It can lead to shoulder, neck, and back pain.

Pay Attention to Running Form:

Your form does slightly change on the treadmill. Make sure to stay in the front of the treadmill and don’t shorten your stride. If your form feels off, slow down. Running on from foreign to you is likely to set you up for injury.


People make a common mistake in jumping into fast running on the treadmill. Take it slower than you think and ease into it. That way, you don’t injure yourself.

Know the treadmill:

It seems silly (like the phrase, know your body) but understanding your treadmill is essential. Does it have built-in workouts? What kind of incline can it go to? And decline? Are there programs? This also includes calibrating the treadmill to ensure you’re going the pace and distance it indicates.

Do Things You Can’t Do Outside:

Whether speed work, running hills, or running flat, do things that you can’t do outdoors.

Find the Motivation:

The most common phrase I hear is: “the treadmill is so boring.” How can you not be bored on the treadmill? Running on the treadmill can be “boring.” Find motivation, whether that is music, podcasts, or trashy TV. I always save a TV show that is my treadmill TV show. That way, it makes it interesting to me.

Treadmill running is a tool that can help you PR. There is no need to frown or look down on it.

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Questions for you:

How often do you run on the treadmill?

What is a treadmill tip you have? 

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