How Does Treadmill Help in Training for Long Distance Runners

Some long runners prefer outdoor running to treadmill training because it's monotonous. Other runners, however, like treadmill running because of the several benefits it provides. Interestingly, both groups are right to a certain extent. Treadmill running workouts for long-distance runners can have both benefits and drawbacks. Nonetheless, it will help you get faster and more robust, especially if you're training for a race. Moreover, it's good to perform everyday exercises to stay fit.

In this article, I'll take you through some notable benefits of training for a marathon on a treadmill. Moreover, I'll highlight some drawbacks of treadmill training. More importantly, I'll break down the best treadmill workouts for runners to help you prepare for any race.

Let's get started!

Outdoor Vs. Treadmill Training for a Marathon

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Since the race will be taking place outside, outdoor training is better than indoor training. Besides, when running outside, you've to move your legs to move forward. Consequently, this will result in wind resistance. On the other hand, you can jump and go down with a treadmill running. Yet, the machine will record that you're running at the belt's speed.

Nonetheless, indoor training may be the only practical option. For instance, if you're practicing for a summer half marathon, you'll have to train during the rainy season. This can cause significant safety issues because of the darker nights and slippery roads. Similarly, it isn't easy to prepare during the summer season. That's because it exposes you to heat exhaustion and dehydration. Treadmill training is the best option to get you ready for a long-distance race in such scenarios.

According to a scientific study, setting the treadmill's incline to 1% will simulate outdoor running. This will help to overcome this problem of wind resistance. But, more importantly, the effort required to move the belt will be the same as training outside.

The bottom line, treadmill running at an incline level of 1% is as effective as training outside. So, if you're preparing to participate in a race, treadmill running can work. Nonetheless, it's good to combine your treadmill workouts with outdoor workouts.

The Best Long-distance Treadmill Workouts

Training on a treadmill for half an hour at a steady pace frequently becomes boring over time. Hence the need to try out different workouts if you're training for a marathon. Interval training involves short bursts of activity and a recovery period. More notably, it will give a lot of body benefits and make the exercise more exciting. Also, interval training increases anaerobic endurance and enhances running efficiency for existing runners. Moreover, it will help develop fast-twitch muscles, helping you move faster for longer.

As for non-runners, interval training will help to prevent injury and allow your body to adapt. So, all things considered, it's good to add interval workouts to your activity every week. With that in mind, here are some treadmill workouts that are good for marathon training.

· Speed Training on Treadmill

Running faster uses fast-twitch muscles to engage large muscle groups, including glutes. Overall, this will help to maintain and develop strength.

That said, start by warming up for 3 minutes with leg swings, high knees, and butt kicks. After that, run at a slightly faster pace than jogging at a 1% incline for 5 minutes. Next, run for 2 minutes fast, then do a 1-minute recovery jog/ walk. Repeat that process 4 times, run for another 2 minutes fast, and do a recovery jog/ walk for 30 seconds. Do that process 4 times, then run for 40 seconds at a sprint pace and perform a 40-sec recovery jog/ walk. Like the other steps, repeat the above process 4 times, and jog for 3 minutes to cool down.

· Interval Training for Endurance

Endurance involves training the body to perform well for an extended period. To achieve that, you have to vary the speed instead of running at a constant pace. As a result, your body will ease into the intensity. This allows you to develop a muscle memory that handles high intensity at each speed.

To train for endurance on a treadmill, start by walking at moderate speed for 5 minutes. Here, you can perform butt kicks, high knees, and quick steps for 390 seconds each. Then jog for 5 minutes at a light pace.

Now, sprint at 0% incline at the fastest speed for 1 minute. Once you determine that pace, run at half of that pace for 5 minutes, followed by a 2-minute recovery jog. Make sure you increase the speed by 0.5mph after every minute. More importantly, repeat that training 6 times. Similarly, increase the starting speed of each set by 0.5mph than the previous running pace.

· Uphill Treadmill Workout

Warm up for 5 minutes before you start the uphill workout. This involves walking at a moderate pace, performing high knees, butt kicks, and jogging. Then, determine the fastest speed you can maintain for 1 minute at 0 inclines. And start your training for the marathon at a pace that is half of that.

Run for 1 minute, and walk/ jog for another minute to recover. Repeat this process 6 times, increasing the incline after each interval by 1%. Next, run for 30 minutes and walk/ jog for 1 minute. Do this 4 times as you increase the speed after each interval by 0.5mph. Finally, run for 30 seconds and walk/ jog for 1 minute. Repeat this process 6 times, starting with the fastest speed at 0% incline. Try to increase the rate after every interval by 0.2mph.

· Descending ladder interval workout

The key to descending ladder workouts is to increase the effort while reducing the interval duration. Doing so will help you find speed and turnover after a short recovery duration. Moreover, it will help you learn how you can quickly change through gears.

Jog at a light pace for 10 to 290 minutes to warm up. Then run at 75% of your maximum effort for 3 minutes and perform a recovery jog/ walk for 1 minute. Next, move on to running at 80% of your maximum effort for 2 minutes, then walk/ jog for 1 minute. Finally, run at 90% of your total speed for 1 minute, walk/ jog for 1 minute, and race for 10 to 20 minutes to cool down.

· Race pace interval workout

Race Pace is one of the best interval workouts when one is training for a half-marathon/ marathon. It helps you find your targeted pace comfortably and push through harder threshold efforts.

Moving on, jog at light speed for 10 to 20 minutes. Next, run for 1 mile at a conversation/ marathon pace, followed by running at a 10K pace for 90 seconds, 4 times. Next, run for another mile at marathon pace, increase your effort to 90% and run for 90 seconds, 4 times. Lastly, run 1 mile at marathon pace and jog for 10- 20 minutes to cool down.

· Pyramid Interval workout

Hills offer many benefits like stronger muscles, higher calorie burn, and improved stride. Performing pyramid interval workouts on a treadmill will help you achieve those benefits.

Start by performing regular drills like butt kicks, high knees, and leg swings for 3 minutes. Then, run at 1% incline for 4 minutes at a slightly faster pace than jogging.

Now that you've already warmed up, you can get started with a pyramid interval workout:

  1. Run at 1% incline fast for 1.5 minutes and walk/ jog for 45 seconds.
  2. Increase the angle to 2%, run fast for 1.5 minutes, then walk/ jog for 45 seconds.
  3. Increase the angle to 3 %, run fast for 1.5 minutes, and walk/ jog for 45 seconds.
  4. Increase the incline level to 5% and run for 2, 3 & 4 minutes, followed by a recovery walk/ jog after each interval.

Next, reduce the incline by 1% and run for 2, 3, and 4 minutes, performing a recovery jog/ walk after each interval. Next, decrease the gap by 1% again and repeat the above process. Finally, set the treadmill at 5% incline, run for 1 minute, 3 times, followed by a recovery jog or walk. Jog for 3 minutes to cool down, and your workout is done!

How to Properly Train for a Marathon on a Treadmill

· Warm up before every workout

It's always good to warm up before you start training for a race on a treadmill. This may include doing butt kicks and stretches for the first few minutes of your workout. Also, you can walk or jog at a light pace for about 5 minutes before you increase the speed or incline. Such exercises will allow more oxygen to get into the muscles by raising the heart rate.

· Keep your hands off the treadmill’s handrail while running

Some people tend to hold onto the treadmill handrails and console while training. Well, that should not be the case if you want to learn how to run on a treadmill properly. Instead, those handrails are intended to help you get off safely and on the equipment. Otherwise, it will hinder the quality of your treadmill workout. Besides, you'll not be holding on to anything during long-distance running. Why am I saying this?

First, it's challenging to keep up your pace while holding on to the handrails. On the same note, your body will not be working since you'll be transferring weight onto the machine.

Also, holding onto the handrails can cause neck, shoulders, and back pain since you'll be hunching over.

· Run naturally

Make sure you run the same way you would outside when training on a treadmill. The treadmill belt performs most of the workout for you since it's constantly moving.

With that in mind, avoid short strides and run with a natural pose. Once the run or form feels off, reduce the pace until you gain a more natural form. Then start increasing the speed again.

· Adjust the settings to simulate outdoor running conditions

As I said earlier, the main challenge of long-running on a treadmill is it lacks wind resistance. In other words, you're running in the same place, so your body is not being pushed through the air. Adjusting the treadmill's incline to 1% will help to overcome that challenge. Besides, you'll be using the same effort you would while running outside.

The belt propels your body forward at a 1% incline, apart from correcting wind resistance. As a result, your glutes and hamstrings don't generate as much effort as training outside. Raising the incline level of the belt to 3% simulates outdoor 'flat' running. Better still, it gives your legs enough strength for the race day.

· Keep your head up

It would be best to keep your head up throughout the training. Although it's normal to look at the console to monitor the pace and speed from time to time, please don't do it frequently. Otherwise, you may experience back and neck pains after the workout. Worst of all, lowering the head and regularly raising it can cause dizziness. Therefore, the most efficient and safest way of running is to keep your head straight and focused.

. Stay Focused

Many things keep the brain stimulated when running or training outside. Also, you'll be running over many terrains, people, and so on. These factors help you fight boredom, helping you run over long distances for longer.

Well, that is not the case when it comes to treadmill training. Besides, you'll be training in the same place during the entire workout. For that reason, treadmill workouts can become boring pretty quickly. To avoid that, listen to your favorite playlist or podcasts while training for a race on a treadmill. Even better, you can install a monitor in front of your treadmill and watch videos while running. So, in addition to learning these tips for marathon training on a treadmill, it's good to know about Sole F80 treadmill maintenance.

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Benefits of Training for a Race on a Treadmill

Training for a marathon on a treadmill machine has several benefits. For instance, it will help you get used to race-day conditions. Moreover, it allows you to test some of the outfits and shoes you'll be wearing on the marathon day. Other benefits of treadmill training for long-distance runners when preparing for a warm-weather marathon are:

· Easier on joints

Running on a treadmill has much less impact on the ankles and knees than training on asphalt/ cement. Thanks to the flat surface and cushioning that these workout machines offer, reducing the risk of injury. This makes marathon training on a treadmill the best option for runners recovering from injuries. As you know, marathon training will involve a lot of running. Therefore, treadmill training is a great way to give your joints a break.

· Safe

If you live in an unsafe neighborhood, treadmill training is a great way to prepare for a race. That way, you can safely train before sunrise and even at night

· Simulates race-day conditions

A thorough training requires resistance and hill workouts so that you can get faster and more robust. But if you live in a flat area, that may not be possible. Interestingly, treadmills have declined and incline features that help you simulate race-day conditions. Also, they enable you to set interval speeds and interval duration for pace training.

· Easy to train in severe weather conditions

Although running in the snow, rain, or severe heat is manageable, it isn't recommended for marathon training. That is because bad weather can cause discomfort, especially if you're not used to it. In addition, the body requires adequate adjusting time and equipment to adapt to extreme temperatures. So, training on a treadmill is an excellent option for runners who live in areas with extremely hot/ cold weather. It will help you avoid unpleasant conditions during your marathon training routine.

Bottom Line

Overall, training for 5k on a treadmill or any other long-distance race is possible. It's a great way to perform targeted speed, tempo runs, and inclines as required. Note, training for a marathon on a treadmill can also have some drawbacks. Nonetheless, it's the best training equipment for marathon training, especially for long-distance runners living in severe weather environments. You need to learn how to train for a marathon on a treadmill properly, and you're good to go!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is the Sole F80 treadmill good for marathon training?

Yes! The Sole F80 treadmill can help you to prepare for a long-distance race successfully. Even better, you can use it for complete marathon training or specific marathon speed workouts.

2. What’s the best treadmill for half-marathon training?

There are several superior treadmills for half or full marathon training out there. The best models are the Lifespan Folding treadmill, Exerpeutic treadmill, and Sole Fitness Treadmill.

3. How long should you train on the treadmill for endurance?

A treadmill endurance program involves 20 to 30 minutes per session.

4. How can beginners increase their running distance?

As a beginner, run 30-min sessions 2 to 3 times every week to increase your running distance. After the first month, start increasing the weekly mileage by about 10%.

About the Author Treadmill Express plus

"Erik Brown" is the health and fitness author for treadmillexpressplus.com. He works with a team of committed experts to create detailed reviews and informative articles about health and fitness. For instance, he covers various fitness-related topics especially on workout equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes and more. If you want to make a wise decision when buying any training equipment, check out more of his unbiased articles."

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