There are lots of benefits to treadmill running, and it's a great alternative for runners when the weather is unpredictable or safety issues make it impossible to run outside. Follow these tips to make your treadmill running more effective, enjoyable, and safe.
Take time to warm up. Run or walk at a slow, easy pace for 5-10 minutes. It's tempting to just jump on the treadmill and start your workout, but you should allow time for a warm up.
Use a slight incline. Set the treadmill inclination to 1% to 2%. Since there's no wind resistance indoors, a gentle uphill better simulates outdoor running. Of course, if you're just getting started with running, it's fine to leave the incline at 0% until you build up your fitness and increase your comfort level on the treadmill.
Don't make it too steep. At the same time, don't set the incline too steep (more than 7%) -- this may lead to Achilles tendon or calf injuries. Also, don't run at an incline of more than 2% for your entire run. Make sure you're mixing up steep inclines with some flat running.
Don't hold onto the handrail or console. Some people assume that they need to hold onto the handrails when walking or running on a treadmill. The handrails are only there to help you safely get onto and off of the treadmill. When running on the treadmill, practice proper upper body form by keeping your arms at a 90 degree angle, just as you would if you were running outside.
Don't forget to cool down. It's also easy to hop off the treadmill when your workout is done and your heart rate is elevated. Spend 5 minutes doing a slow jog or walk at the end of your run and allow your heart rate to go below 100 bpm before you get off. Cooling down will help prevent dizziness or the feeling that you're still moving when you step off the treadmill.
Work on improving your stride count. The more steps you take per minute, the more efficiently you'll run. Elite runners run about 180 steps per minute. Determine your stride count by counting how often one foot hits the belt in a minute and then doubling that number. Try to improve your stride count during your workout by focusing on taking shorter, quicker strides and keeping your feet close to the belt.
Listen to music. Although using headphones while running outside is not safe, listening to music on the treadmill can be a great way to combat boredom and run longer. Choose motivating songs and create a playlist for your workout -– it will help prevent you from continually checking the clock to see how much more you have to go.
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