The treadmill is a great workout tool, as it enables you to do very precise workouts, and the number don’t lie. If you run outdoors, there are definitely benefits of varying gradients, and being out in the fresh air (not so fresh in London) and close to nature if you get off-road, but on the treadmill you submit yourself to the discipline of a set speed and there’s no chance to slacken the pace.
The mistake most people make on the treadmill is to do the same run week in week out, whether it’s 3km at 11kph, or a 5km at 10kph, to take two common examples. By adding variety to your runs, you will stimulate different muscle fibres, and give your heart and lungs a better workout too.
For this workout, it’s ideal to have a training partner, fitness buddy, or personal trainer alongside to make a note of your distances and times in each segment of the run. Here’s one example workout that will get your heart pumping faster than the average treadmill run, and it’s less boring than running constantly at pretty much the same speed:
Warm-up: Walk for 5 minutes at 6kph
Gentle run: run for 1km @ 10kph (if you’re fit, increase to 11kph at the 500m point)
Recovery: walk for 1 minute @ 5kph
800m run: set your speed according to your fitness, and increase it towards the end of the 800m. With a decent level of fitness you should start at around 13kph. Get your personal trainer to note down your time for the 800m run
Recovery: walk for 1 minute at 5kph. Make the most of this recovery by taking deep breaths.
400m run: If you’re fit, start at 13kph and up the speed as you progress. Note your time.
Recovery: Walk for 1 minute at 5kph.
200m sprint: If you’re fit, start at 14kph and increase the speed if you can. Bear in mind the risk of hamstring pulls at higher speeds so make sure you’re flexible enough for this. Note your time.
Cooldown: walk for 5 minutes at 5kph. Get your fitness buddy or personal trainer to get you some water to sip during this cooldown.
Stretch: allow a good 10 minutes (at least) for a thorough stretch of glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves (gastroc and soleus), and some inner thigh stretches too. Hold each stretch for 1 minute each leg.
As you get fitter, you should be able to increase your times for the 800m, 400m, and 200m. It’s fun to look back at your training notes to see how you’ve progressed.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and author of the Fitness4London.com blog.