10 Tips for Treadmill Domination

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treadmill domination

I’m not a big treadmill girl. In fact, I refer to it as the dreadmill most of the time. I do recognize, however, that the treadmill can be a useful tool for training. And I also realize that not everyone hates it as much as I do, and some people even like it better than running outside. (Those people are weirdos.)

Anyway, as a coach and instructor for a treadmill workout class, I work with the treadmill a lot. I see some crazy stuff, and some activity that can definitely be improved upon for better efficiency, performance, and results. With that:

10 Tips for Treadmill Domination

  1. Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing. Contrary to the stupid memes or Pinterest pins, no, you are not racing. What they are doing has nothing to do with what you are doing. They likely came in with a workout plan, just like you did. Stick to yours.
  2. Realize that basically no treadmill ever is actually calibrated correctly. Your pace will be off. I typically wear my Garmin watch and footpod while running on a treadmill, and on any given day, my pace could match up exactly, be 10 seconds slower per mile, or be 10 seconds faster per mile. It’s a crapshoot. Don’t get married to a certain MPH, because it’s likely not even close to accurate.
  3. Treadmills are inside, and thus have no air flow. Therefore, it’s going to be hot. Keep that in mind for heat dissipation purposes. It basically means you’ll probably run a little hotter and your body will struggle to keep up and manage that heat, perhaps causing a decrease in performance.
  4. When you get on a treadmill, you’re usually going to set it and forget it. (Unless, of course, you are doing some interval training, in which case you would indeed be playing with speed and incline.) This locks you into a constant pace and does not allow for any fluctuations in your speed. Think about it – if you’re running outside, you may slow down for a few seconds as you get distracted, take a few quicker steps for a little bit, finish off a little slower or faster depending on how you feel. You can’t do that on a treadmill, and you’ll be constantly keeping up with the belt at a set pace. This can affect your performance when it comes to distractions or fatigue.
  5. Because the treadmill belt is moving, your stride could be different. This isn’t always the case with everyone, but it can be something to keep in mind. You may notice that you feel different running on a treadmill vs. the road.
  6. Concerning the above, your stride may actually lengthen when running on a treadmill. This is something you want to pay attention to. Keep your strides short and quick, and don’t reach out with that front foot. I always cue my treadmill runners to keep short, quick footsteps, and to “keep it tight.”
  7. Stay in control and be honest with yourself. I’ll say again, the number does not matter. Get the best out of your workout. Run by effort. If you’re feeling a 6.0 for today, awesome. If it’s 5.8 and it feels like a hard effort, totally fine. If you are feeling great and bump it up to 6.5 with no issues, fantastic. Refer to #2 and don’t worry about the pace.
  8. That said, get off the dash! Visualize your outdoor running stride when you’re on the treadmill. It should be relaxed and easy, no tension in the head, neck, or shoulders, easy arms at about 90 degrees. I see it all too often – the runner squeezed up against that dashboard, arms all tight, super tense all over. This signals that you are probably in a place where you can pick up your pace. Yes, you want to stay in control (#7), but you also want to be in the center of the tread running comfortably. Either increase your pace a touch, or slow down and back up off that dash, leaving yourself within reach of the emergency cord, should you need it.
  9. Refer to the above and drop your arms! Shake ‘em out, take a deep breath, and keep moving.
  10. Don’t be scared of this machine. It’s just a treadmill. You’re not going to fall off of it. I mean, unless you do something really stupid, but you’re not going to do that with all of these productive tips to follow. There’s a sweet spot between controlled pace and being nervous about a running tread. Find the sweet spot and get the most out of your workout.

So there you have it. Let me know how it goes, friends. Next time I hear from you, we’ll no longer be talking about the dreadmill, but the mill of awesomness!