High Efficiency Treadmill Workouts

By Rick Morris

One of the many great things about running is its simplicity. You don’t need any specialized equipment other than a good pair of running shoes, and those are even optional. While you don’t need equipment to run there are times that a treadmill can make things easier. When the roads are icy, the weather frigid, the winds high or the air pollution bad, it’s nice to be able to run on the treadmill in the comfort and safety of your home or gym. Treadmill running can be very easy, just hop on and away you go. But, if you want to perform an efficient workout your treadmill run should do two things. It should maximize your fitness benefits and closely match your outside workouts. Here are some high efficiency treadmill workouts that will match or exceed the quality and efficiency of your free range running.

Three Minute Monsters

This is a classic track workout that you can easily do on the treadmill. The treadmill can actually increase the efficiency of this workout because it will not allow you to slow down. After a warm up, run  5 x 3 minute repeats at about 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K race pace or a very hard pace. Recover between each 3 minute repeat with two minutes of walking or very easy jogging.

Classic Tempo

Your outside tempo runs are usually very enjoyable workouts because you get into a strong and exhilarating running rhythm that is neither too easy nor too hard. You can zone out and enjoy the scenery. You can do the same tempo run on your treadmill, but you might need the distraction of a good movie on TV or your favorite music for a distraction. Simply hop on your treadmill and set it at your tempo pace. Tempo pace can range from marathon pace to just slower than 10K pace or a moderate to moderately hard pace. Run for between 20 and 60 minutes depending upon your current fitness level and training goal.

Threshold Thrusters

Here is another classic track workout that is great for the treadmill. Warm up and then run 8 x 2 minute repeats at about 5K pace or a hard pace. Recovery between each 2 minute repeat with 1 minute at around marathon pace or a moderate pace.

The 5K Time Trial

There seems to be an unwritten rule out there that you should never perform a race effort time trial during training. I disagree. There is no reason not to perform a race effort as long as you don’t have a race coming up in the next week or two and you allow for sufficient recovery. In fact, a race effort is the perfect training run. It meets the rule of specificity perfectly. This one is self explanatory.  Warm up and then run 5K at your 5K race pace. The only problem is if your treadmill doesn’t go fast enough – but that is a good problem to have.

5K Simulator

Ok, so you have a race coming up in the near future or you don’t like to perform race effort time trials. You can simulate the physiological effects of a 5K race, while avoiding the stress of a time trial, with this simulator. After a warm up run 3 x 1 mile repeats at 5K pace with 1 minute of rest between each repeat. After your third 3 mile repeat increase the pace of your treadmill to its maximum pace and run 1/4 mile.

The Pyramid

No list of treadmill workouts would be complete without a hill run. During this run you will run up one side of the hill or pyramid and down the other. Run at a moderately hard to hard pace. Begin with your treadmill set at 2 percent incline. Increase the incline by one percent every two minutes up to 8 percent. Then run back down the hill by decreasing the incline by one percent every two minutes.