As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, you may find it harder than ever to schedule an outdoor run. No worries, though. You can easily take your run indoors, provided you have access to an indoor track or treadmill. Treadmill running can be less taxing—less wind resistance, less challenging terrain, momentum provided by a constantly-moving belt—but that doesn’t mean you get off scot free. To add a layer of difficulty, you’ll want to make a few adjustments. “If you structure your workout with greater discipline, you can more than make up for the variables that exist outside,” says David Siik, author of The Ultimate Treadmill Workout and National Manager of Precision Running at Equinox fitness clubs. Here are a few ways to boost your indoor run workout—and stay cool while embracing a challenge:
5 Ways to Make Your Outdoor Run Treadmill Friendly
1. Adjust The Treadmill Incline To 1 Percent
Even on days when there’s not much of a breeze, wind resistance plays a role in how much energy you need to expend to move your body forward. The best way to compensate? Set the treadmill incline a little higher. In a study at Exeter University, researchers asked nine men to run for six minutes at six different speeds. Five runs were conducted on a treadmill set at different inclines—from 0 percent to 3 percent; the other run was done outside. Energy expenditure was determined by measuring oxygen consumption during the final two minutes of each run. The result? A 1 percent gradient—not more and not less—most accurately mimics the energy expenditure of an outdoor run.
2. Pick Up The Pace
If you think you’re working just as hard on the treadmill as you do outdoors, you might be fooling yourself. In a study at the University of Singapore, participants were asked to run outside for 3 minutes, then on a treadmill for 3 minutes, then outside again. Average running speed was calculated using a video camera. Turns out that while on the treadmill, the runners slowed way down, even though they were told to try to keep a similar pace as their outdoor runs. Researchers concluded that the lack of visual stimuli indoors was likely to blame. Compensate by intentionally picking up the pace on your treadmill run. If you normally run 9-minute miles, try 8:50s on the treadmill. If you run 8-minute miles, try for 7:50s.
3. Up Your Game With Interval Training
“The number one piece of advice that I give to runners is never get on a treadmill without knowing what you’re planning to do,” says Siik. “It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can plan to run for 10 minutes and pick up your pace every minute, or do a one-minute on, one-minute off type of workout. If you have a plan, you’ll never be bored.” Or try this 30-minute treadmill interval workout that Siik developed exclusively for Fitbit readers.
You’ll want to start with a medium effort run—about 2 mph slower than what you think is your maximum speed (or Personal Record, PR) for one minute. You’ll keep that speed on all intervals in the first half as you go up in incline. The reason this workout is called “The Descent” is because it gets challenging in the second half.
|60 seconds||-2.0 mph below PR (Ex: 4, 5, 6 mph)||1%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Same Speed||2%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Same Speed||3%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Same Speed||4%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Same Speed||5%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Same Speed||6%||1 min. walk/jog|
2-3 minute Break
Walk at a 0 percent incline or step off the treadmill and rest completely.
|60 seconds||Last Speed +0.4 mph (Ex: 4.4, 5.4, 6.4 mph)||5%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Last Speed +0.4 mph (Ex: 4.8, 5.8, 6.8 mph)||4%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Last Speed +0.4 mph (Ex: 5.2, 6.2, 7.2 mph)||3%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Last Speed +0.4 mph (Ex: 5.6, 6.6, 7.6 mph)||2%||1 min. walk/jog|
|60 seconds||Last Speed +0.4 mph, your top speed (Ex: 6, 7, 8 mph)||1%|
|2-3 minute Cool Down|
4. Strap On A Heart Rate Monitor
A heart rate monitor will help ensure that you’re working just as hard during your indoor runs as you do during your outdoor runs. “I’m a big fan of people monitoring their data,” says Siik. “If you focus on heart rate data for performance enhancement, you’ll start performing better,” says Siik. Try to match your heart rate on the treadmill with your typical heart rate while running outdoors. Keep in mind, though, that you’re likely to sweat more indoors, and that might raise your heart rate as well.
5. Hit Play
One way to become a faster and more efficient runner is to increase your running cadence (the number of steps you take per minute). Pandora has running-specific stations featuring tunes with a variety of beats per minute—from 150 bpm to 180 bpm—that make the process easy and fun. What’s more, listening to music can make your indoor run just a little more enjoyable all around.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.