Treadmill Training

Treadmill Training

Enjoy this guest post from Big Sky New Britain Master Trainer Maggie Nelson. Maggie has her bachelor’s degree in Sports Management, as well as her NASM CPT and Precision Nutrition Certification. She’s passionate about teaching people to live a happy, healthy, and balanced life.

Although spring is on it’s way, many roads and sidewalks are still covered in ice and snow, which can make running outside in Connecticut at this time of year an unsafe place to be. Not to mention the days are still shorter so your “after work run” might be taking place in the dark if it doesn’t happen inside. While there are benefits to taking running outside in cold weather, indoor training can really boost your fitness level with some great interval workouts and get you ready for race season. Spring 5K’s are only a few short months away, so it’s important to keep up with miles!

Whether you’re an avid runner or you consider yourself a beginner, the treadmill can be a fantastic place to safely train for your next race or just to improve your cardiovascular fitness until it is safer to get back out on the roads.

If you’ve been using a treadmill to train for a long time, you know they’ve come a very long way! Many of the treadmills at Big Sky have their very own tv, so you can plug in your headphones and get lost in the world of reality tv, catch up on the news, or just blast your favorite playlist to get you going. Don’t worry about trying to juggle a water bottle because they’ve got a place for those too. A place for your cell phone – check! A place to hold your tablet – check! Actually, you may never want to get back on the roads once you realize the luxury of running on a treadmill.

We definitely can’t discount the comfort level of running indoors compared to running in sub-freezing temperatures, but the boredom factor can increase if you aren’t doing some type of exciting interval workout – which is where these workouts come in! If you are used to running outside with changing scenery every step of the way, the boredom level of the treadmill is what causes most people to give up. We’re here to help!

Of course we need a disclaimer here… so if you have any injuries or you’ve never run before, make sure you consult with your doctor before trying a new workout!

If you’re already a runner and trying to get ready for springtime running without getting out in the snow – give one of these a go!


Hill Repeats

The luxury of doing hill repeats on a treadmill is being able to pick the exact hill length and grade that is appropriate for your fitness level and how challenging you want it to be. You can choose an exact distance, or a particular time, as well as how many times you want to repeat it for your workout goal.

An example workout for a beginner might look like this:

Incline: 4%

Run Speed: 5.0

Walk Speed 3.0

Run for 1 minute, walk for 3 minutes, repeat for 20 minutes


An example workout for an advanced runner might look like this:

Incline: 7%

Run Speed: 7.5

Walk Speed 4.0

Run for 2 minutes, Walk for 2 minutes, repeat for 35 minutes


For a very advanced runner, the incline can stay high for the walking recovery, which will further increase the intensity of the workout. In order for the recovery to happen faster, bring the incline down to 1-2% during the walk and then increase again for the run interval.

Hill repeats are a great workout for cardiovascular health, and leg strength. Enjoy!


Mountain Climb

Similar to hill repeats, the mountain climb will challenge your leg strength and stamina, without giving you the breaks of the added walk. (Of course, add them in as needed!!) If you’ve ever gone hiking, this looks much like that – a long trek up, and a steady trek down the other side. Make the “mountain” as long and steady as you want. Have only a short amount of time until you have to go grab the kids from school? Make your mountain fit your time – a short, steep 15-minute mountain will be tiring, HARD, but also incredible for building strength in your quads and taxing your lung capacity as your heart rate skyrockets with your incline.

A quick, steep advanced run up a hill might look like this:

Incline increases every 2 minutes: 3%, 5%, 6%, 7%, 10%, and then back down for a 20-minute workout.

Adjust the speed as necessary.


A longer, more gradual beginner hill might look like this:

Incline increases every 3 minutes: 1.5%, 3%, 4.5%, 6%, maintain at 7% for 5 minutes, then back down for a 30-minute mountain climb.

Adjust speed as necessary.


Similar to hiking, as your incline or “mountain” gets steeper, your speed usually slows down a little bit. During this workout, try to maintain as much of your speed as you can to challenge yourself and your cardiovascular health. That will mean that come springtime when you run outside and approach a hill, you will be able to tackle it with greater ease!


Speed Bursts

The final type of workout on the treadmill is less about hills and more about increasing your speed.

When you’re approaching the finish line to that 5K, you want to be able to pick up your speed and cross with a smile 🙂

That comes with practice by picking up speed in your workouts, even when you are already tired.

For speed bursts you’ll run at a moderate pace for a certain amount of time, based on your fitness level, and then pick up your pace to “burst” towards your finish line multiple times throughout your workout. They’re meant to be hard!

A beginner workout of speed bursts might look like this:

Incline: 1%

Run Speed 5.0

Every 3 minutes run @ 6.5 for :30

Repeat for a 20 minute workout


An advanced workout of speed bursts might look like this:

Incline: 1%

Run speed 6.5

Every 3 minutes run @ 8.0 for :45

Repeat for 30 minutes

Adjust the run speed as you go to allow yourself to recover. You want to be able to work REALLY hard for that speed burst. Pretend you see that finish line and your friends are there cheering. It really helps if you smile and wave to the crowd too. I promise! The more fun you make it the less you’ll remember you’re still just running on a treadmill.

After any of these workouts be sure to stay on the treadmill and walk a little bit to properly bring your heart rate down and cool your body off, and do a full body stretch as well.

While running inside to get ready for spring races is fantastic, the absolute best way to get stronger for running is cross training. Some of the best off-seasons generally happen through increased strength training and getting your glutes, hamstrings, core, and quads stronger. Even hopping on the bike or elliptical to work those muscles in different ways can really improve your muscular endurance in ways you never even thought of! Need help with that? All of our Big Sky coaches are ready to help. Email is at and we can get you scheduled for a free workout to see what it’s like to work with a Big Sky Coach!

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