Can you do a long run on the treadmill? Are you getting the same benefits as doing your marathon training outside? For years now, I’ve tried to convince you that treadmill running is running. Period. Full stop.
But you continue to wonder about it and for those not accustomed to time on the treadmill, there’s a lot of worry about how boring it might feel.
What’s the longest you’ve run on a treadmill?
Me: 20 miles while staring at a brick wall.
What?! After 20 minutes I want to poke my eyes out, how do you do it?
Me: There are a ton of mental tricks, but I’ve just fallen in love with how running makes me feel.
Ahh, I only run so I can eat and not weigh 400 lbs.
This is a true conversation and one that I tend to have with some variation on a pretty regular basis once people find out about RunToTheFinish.
On another level, there are those who have taken to the concept treadmill running, but wonder why they run slower on treadmill.
Do I mind the questions? Nope! I’ll talk running with anyone, anytime! So today let’s talk more about long treadmill running tips that are going to help the time fly and ensure you’re getting the benefits you need.
13 Tips for Treadmill Long Runs
I’ve spent plenty of Saturday mornings happily hammering out 13+ miles with only my thoughts…so you could say I feel like a pro at providing tips on how to get through some extended time running on the treadmill.
Shoot I have a number of friends who aren’t strangers to running a marathon on a treadmill. It’s simply the best way for them to get it done around family, life and weather.
My longest is 22 miles while watching the NYC marathon. Nothing is more fun than watching others run, while you run, ha.
Here are some of my top tips for a long run on a treadmill!All right sure that quote technically comes from people in prison, but treadmill running really isn’t all that bad!
In fact, there are actually some serious benefits to doing some treadmill running, including giving your knees a break and switching things up!
I’ve detailed them all here with some other insane mill runners: Benefits of treadmill running.
What’s more important getting in your training run or a little mental discomfort? Mental discomfort that could serve you come race day!
Yes, embrace these miles and know that they are making you so much stronger. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to practice some goal pace miles.
All right enough of that, let’s get to the treadmill running tips you’ve been waiting for.Some of these are obvious solutions, but none the less great ideas and reminders that you CAN do this if you need to!
Half marathon training on the treadmill is totally doable and doesn’t mean you won’t be prepared for the race, let those silly thoughts go.
#1 Time to Watch Your Guilty Pleasure Shows without Interruption
I’ve made many a deal with myself like “I can only watch Real Housewives” while I’m on the treadmill. These are mindless shows that I don’t have to be too involved in and would never let myself sit around and watch.
Many other runners I know save Netflix shows or record movies to watch during their run. It can take your mind off of the treadmill and remind you to enjoy yourself! Plus, it’s just you. No one to interrupt during that pivotal moment.
If you’re watching LIVE TV it’s an easy opportunity to build in some variation by increasing the pace during commercials. Mute the TV for those few minutes and focus on your form, then relax again once the show returns.
Bonus: Try watching one of these great running movies for an extra boost.
#2 Extra Time to Dive in to a Good Book
This won’t work for everyone, but the truth is that with a good sturdy treadmill you can indeed READ!!
Grab the large print books from the library, your newest copy of Runner’s World or your Kindle with the font all the way up.
Reading on the treadmill used to be one of my favorite ways to pass the time on longer runs! Now I tend to listen to audiobooks for a lot of marathon training runs.
Even if you choose not to read during the run, a few pages of Runner’s World could help ensure you spend at least 1/2 mile walking for both your warm up and cool down. I never seem to make it through all the magazines I love, so this is a chance to get some extra motivation out of those articles!
Checkout these Top 50 Running Books for ideas >>
And here are my favorite audiobooks for runners >>
#3 Find a Great Playlist or Podcast
Science has proven that music can indeed help us to runner farther or workout harder, so why not take full advantage of that?! Did you know that the right running BPM playlist can help improve your cadence?
Long time readers know that inside or out, my favorite thing to do is spend part of the run in quiet then part of the run listening to a true crime or funny podcast.
During long runs, I will save music for the last few miles. Then I switch over to some of my favorite songs to give my brain and body that final boost.
The right music literally increases feelings of pleasure in the brain and thus distracts from feelings of fatigue. Extra helpful when the lyrics really speak to you!
Checkout these Top Podcasts for Runners >>
# 4 Long Run Pace Variations
Stop trying to run the entire thing at an even pace, this is play time!! Outside it’s called running fartleks, on the treadmill I think it’s called sanity savers.
Here are some of the ways I keep it interesting:
- Every 5 minutes change the incline or pace
- Use each commercial break as a reminder to up the pace
- Do ladder runs which take advantage of your changing energy (increase pace .1 every mile until half way and then work your way back down)
- Do an interval every time they say a certain word during your show (healthier than the original version which is a drinking game)
- Checkout my treadmill training guide for 3 treadmill workouts
- Or checkout these 7 Boredom Busting Treadmill Workouts
Some people will tell you that running on the treadmill is easier and that’s why it doesn’t prepare you for races, but that’s only true if you aren’t taking full advantage of it with inclines, speed plays and consistency.
#5 Remember Treadmill Fueling Is Needed
Ahhh just because you might not be wearing your fuel belt, doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan for fuel! Get that water bottled filled up and ready to sip, bring your best running gels or electrolytes!
You may need them even more if the run feels like a mental struggle.
In fact, the treadmill is actually an excellent time to really test out your half marathon fuel!
With everything close at hand, including a bathroom, you can test out whole food options or a new gel to see how your stomach is going to react. It’s also a chance to see what water consumption keeps you hydrated without the need to hit the potty every couple of miles!
Checkout these whole food running fuel options>>
#6 Partner Up
While I can indeed run my 20 miles on a solo treadmill in my basement, for many it’s way easier at the gym.
First, you could ask a friend to meet you and run along side you for some chatting, second you can simply spend hours watching others workout which makes you feel kind of bad ass as they come and go, but you remain!
Finally…let’s be honest there is something about a runner hoping on a treadmill next to you. A little inner talk starts “Oh look at your speed, yeah well I’m going to out last you“.
There is NOTHING wrong with having little competitions like this to keep your spirits up and your feet moving.
#7 Get some Cheerleaders
My dear friend Jodi has an amazing support crew around her and I LOVED to see kids making marathon signs for her which she could post around her treadmill.
Others I know have family members stop in throughout the run to give them a high five, tell them how strong they look and remind them of their race goal!!
#8 Mix Up the Movement
Break the mileage into segments and reward yourself at the end of the segment.
Slow the speed and walk for 30 seconds or so and get a good long drink. Stop the treadmill and hit the restroom.
Hop off and stretch if you need to.
Short little breaks will not hurt your training in the long run and will help you keep mentally strong to finish your mileage on the treadmill.Winter pushing you to more treadmill runs? Tips from a treadmill running pro to survive #runchat #marathontraining Click To Tweet
#9 Run a Race Course
If you’re lucky enough to have a treadmill like mine with the built in Google Maps then you can actually pretend like you’re outside running!
If you know your race course you can plug it in or use one on the treadmill giving you either a street view or map view, definitely a fun way to mix things up!
When I was getting ready for a previous marathon, I looked up the course elevation profile online and then made myself a sticky note with all the changes. Over my 20 mile, I adjusted the incline up or down based upon the course. What a phenomenal way to prepare!
For those doing downhill races, this is an amazing opportunity to get your quads used to running downhill.
#10 Cover the Treadmill Display
Not only is it nice to have a towel to wipe down the buckets of sweat you’re likely to work up as the gym is going to be warmer than the miles you’ve been putting in outside during winter running, but it also works for focus.
I love to toss the towel over the screen so I can’t spend every mile looking at my distance and time. You gotta block those out just like you do outside!
Think about the mental fortitude you’re building in these moments. The way it’s going to help you push through in those final miles of your race, which will be far more interesting!
#11 Split the Long Run Inside and Out
Sometimes you just don’t have the combined mental and physical energy for hours on the treadmill. In those instances, it’s time for splitting your run.
The weather might still mean 2 treadmill runs, but potentially it could mean part on the treadmill and part outside. There have been winter days where I started outside and then decided it was too slick so I moved inside OR summer days where the heat just jumped so quickly I was slowing down to a point that made the miles less useful.
If it’s 2 treadmill runs, choose to make one shorter and faster, the other longer at your easy pace.
#12 Practice Mental Training
At the beginning I noted one of the benefits of a long treadmill run is the mental work. So spend some time doing just that!
Imagine how helpful it will be on race day, when you can pull on this experience.
- Focus on why you’re doing the run
- Talk through the tough patches with yourself, what helps you get through them
- Find your running mantra
- Practice gratitude – I often run a gratitude mile to turn my mind around and it works! I detailed this fully in my book because it’s a tactic I love so much.
#13 Focus on Effort
Outside it’s easy to get distracted or possibly you’re running with a group and thus going too hard. Now you have nothing but ways to focus on your effort level.
The majority of our workouts need to be done at a running RPE of a 4 or 5. Which also correlates to Zone 2 Heart Rate Training. So pull on your Heart Rate Monitor and find out if you’ve actually been doing your training correctly.
Looking for More Treadmill Running Tips:
- How to Recover From a Long Run
- Treadmill Pace Chart – Find out how incline impacts pace
- Best At Home Treadmills for Running
- Nordictrack Treadmill Comparison Guide
- Treadmill Buying Guide – What to Look For When Buying
- Why isn’t my watch accurate on the treadmill
- Best Treadmill Running Shoes
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish