Oh no, the dreaded treadmill, also known as the dreadmill. After years of back and forth, I have finally learned to love running on the treadmill. Even when the weather is perfectly fine for a run outside, I jump on the treadmill to work on specificity and pacing.

Why the treadmill?

A treadmill offers a controlled environment to take your running technique to the next level. It helps you set a pace and work on your cadence. Running on a treadmill also gives you an opportunity to figure out if you’re over-striding, which can increase the risk of overuse injuries.

When I’m on the treadmill, I like to focus on foot cadence. I try to aim for 180 steps per minute (90 steps per minute per leg).

To test your cadence, count the number of steps you take on one leg for 30-seconds. This number should be roughly around 43-45 steps, which equates to roughly 90 steps per minute per leg.

Pacing on a treadmill is very easy. With a push of a button, you can set your desired pace and train at different race speeds. For example, you can run at a sprint triathlon pace (3:45/km) or a half Ironman pace (4:30/km). Because a treadmill is so easy to use, you can also incorporate interval training by mixing paces.

Tip: Always start at a low pace and progress. The key is to use it as a tool for increasing pace over time. The controlled environment allows you to listen to your body and monitor your effort.

How to do it? 

The biggest benefit of a treadmill is that you have full control over it.

Use the manual button on the treadmill set your pace and intervals. The incline can also be changed to your needs. I like to keep it at 0 per cent at the start and avoid any significant changes in the gradient to protect my Achilles. Tip: If you have any Achilles issues you may want to avoid inclines on the treadmill.

Some studies suggest that increasing your incline to 1-2 per cent when running at paces over 8mph is helpful to simulate running outside, but I don’t implement that. Talk to your coach and see what works best for you.

Angela Naeth on the run at the Ironman World Championship 2018. Photo: Reb Bull Content Pool

Don’t hold onto the handrails or console – this will compromise your natural biomechanics and doesn’t help you improve your running. You may be able to go at a faster pace – but it’s a false ability.

Finally, I love to listen to music while running on the treadmill. It helps with motivation and improves my running rhythm. But listen to whatever you want – podcasts or tunes, you may even choose to listen to nothing.

After a few solid runs on a treadmill, you might incorporate it into your training this season.

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