in Training and Runs

Bad Habits that Reduce the Effectiveness of Treadmill Workouts

When you spend as much time on the treadmill as I do, you end up seeing runners doing all kinds of things to sabotage their treadmill runs.


The treadmill can be a great alternative to outdoor runs as long as you make the effort to emulate real-world conditions.

Here’s four things to steer clear of when running on the treadmill. Avoid these bad habits and the quality of your treadmill workouts will improve.

  1. Running flat. Keeping the treadmill incline at zero is fine for tempo runs, but the real world isn’t perfectly flat. To get the most out of your treadmill runs, play with incline. You don’t need to do much, but going to 1.0% or 1.5% for a bit now and then approximates outdoor running better.
  2. Single speeding. Everyone has a comfortable pace, but set-it-and-forget it runs on the treadmill aren’t always the best. You don’t need to go super fast or super slow; even varying your pace by a few tenths of a mile/hr will get you out of the comfort zone.
  3. Leaning back and hanging on. This is more of a walking thing, but if you do crank up the incline and walk now and then, hanging on to the panel and leaning back defeats the purpose of the incline.
  4. Standing on the rails. If you need to take a breather or stop to towel off or adjust your headphones, press pause or lower the speed to walking pace. Standing on the rails is cheating on the distance. If you aren’t on the belt, you shouldn’t be counting the time or the distance.

The treadmill is a great option if you don’t enjoy running outside during our cold, dark Canadian winters. Just make sure you are making the effort to simulate outdoor running as best as you can in order to get the most out of your indoor runs.