A woman runs on a treadmill

How to Use a Treadmill

Photo: Andor Bujdoso

10 tips for getting the most out of indoor training

Running on a treadmill requires a few adjustments compared to running outdoors. If you’re just making the transition, use these tips to improve the experience and minimize risk of injury. 

1. Run for Time Rather Than Distance

Even the best treadmills can be wonky in mileage calculation, and your pace will vary from the road to a treadmill. So rather than run for distance, track time.

2. Warm-up and Down

It’s tempting to set the machine to your desired pace and take off, but your body still needs to warm up. Start slowly with a walk or jog and gradually increase the speed. Same goes for a warm down, especially after an intense workout.

3. Use the Incline

It’s rare to ever run on a completely flat road, and our body responds best to variation. At the least, set the treadmill to a slight uphill angle, like 1 or 2 percent. This is also better on your joints than running on a completely flat surface.

4. Don’t Overdo the Incline

Just because you can set the incline at 10% doesn’t mean you should run such a steep grade (at least not for long). Don’t do what you wouldn’t do outdoors.

An image of women's legs running on a treadmill Photo: Inti St. Clair

5. Mix It Up

Just as you would running outdoors, vary your treadmill running day to day. Rotate easy efforts with interval workouts and hill programming.

6. Split It Up

If you struggle with the monotony of being on a treadmill, divide the run into segments. For instance, run 10 minutes easy, then take a water break, hop back on for another 10 minutes, take another break, and then finish with a final 10 minutes.

7. Avoid Looking Down Too Often

The screen and controls will draw your attention, but looking down too much will undermine your form.

8. Don’t Hold the Handrails

These are there to help you get on and off, and offer support if you slip. Holding them while running is not good for your form.

9. Stop the Treadmill Before Hopping Off

Sounds obvious, but you wouldn’t be the first runner to twist an ankle trying to jump on or off a moving treadmill.

10. Be Conservative

While adjusting to treadmill running, take it easy on the pace and the incline. Once you feel comfortable, then start pushing the workouts.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.