6 Professional Tips to Make Running on Treadmills More Bearable

Jacob Puzey setting the 80km treadmill record
Trying to figure out a way to make training indoors a little better? We asked the guy who just broke the 80 km record how he does it.

The Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based ultrarunner, marathoner and coach says he does “a couple runs a week” on a treadmill, including an occasional 35K run(which takes him almost two hours). “I like treadmill runs because you can get in some quality workouts without the safety issues of running on slick roads in the winter,” he says. Needless to say, Puzey knows how to embrace the machine most runners refer to as the “dreadmill”. Here are his tips:

Think Quality
Use the treadmill for your quality workouts, like progression runs and fartleks. For progression runs, Puzey recommends starting at a really easy pace and gradually increasing the speed. “I’ll start at 12 or 14km per hour and increase it up to 19km per hour over a 60 to 90 or 16 to 24 km run,” he says. For fartleks, he recommends warming up at an easy pace, then doing a one or two minute effort with one or two minutes at an easy pace in between. “Prioritise the times you use the treadmill and you can get really fit,” he says. (Plus, hard training efforts on a treadmill make the time fly by.)

Use Technology
Puzey acknowledges the benefit of technologies – like iFit Coach and DVDs with virtual courses, which make you feel like you’re running somewhere else. And he’s a fan of watching TV on long treadmill runs. “When I did the 35K, I’d go back and forth between Fox News and MSNBC. That kept me pretty fired up,” he laughs. “And I plan to preview the entire Boston Marathon course several times in training from the comfort of my own home in Calgary using the iFit Coach app on my treadmill.”

Tune In
Aside from visual tech, invest in a good pair of running headphones and crank up the tunes. During the 80km record, Puzey listened to everything from mellow, island-inspired tunes like Bob Marley and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, to more upbeat stuff. “The beat to Eminem’s Lose Yourself is the exact rhythm of the cadence I wanted to keep,” he says.

Split Your Runs
“You don’t have to do a super-long run every time to get all of the benefits,” says Puzey. Splitting up your run into two sessions in a day can make the distance – and time on the treadmill – more bearable, while still getting in the kilometres. Puzey says that double treadmill runs serve as nice bookends to the day and keep your resting metabolic rate higher than it would be with just one run.

Appreciate Your Personal Aid Station
Part of the beauty of a treadmill run is that you can load the panel up front with your food and drink. “You don’t have to carry a bottle or set [things] out ahead of time on your long run, hoping they’re still there when you get there,” says Puzey. “Plus you can train your system to eat and drink more consistently on a treadmill. This will help on race day if the distance you’re training for requires regular fuelling.”

Embrace It
“When you learn to just ‘be’ on a treadmill, there are not many excuses to not run,” says Puzey. Running on a treadmill removes many of the other distractions and variables that may alter the way you move or feel on a run, which enables you to really get in tune with your body. “I like to focus on my stride, cadence, and breathing when I run on a treadmill,” he says. “If possible, I run in front of a mirror to ensure my arm carriage is efficient. When I first started running I had terrible form. Over the years and through deliberate practice on a treadmill I have become a more economical runner.”


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