Are you ready to dive into the world of treadmill running? Well, you’re in luck because this is the ultimate guide you’ve been searching for! Forget about risking injury or burnout, because the treadmill is your ticket to a fantastic running experience. Wondering how? Keep reading, my friend.
In today’s post, I’ll be sharing with you everything you need to know to get started with indoor running. By the time you finish reading this beginner’s guide, you’ll have the knowledge to:
- Master the art of using the treadmill
- Discover the incredible benefits of treadmill running
- Find out exactly what gear you need for a successful workout
- Take your very first steps on this fantastic machine
- Stay motivated and keep that treadmill routine going strong
- Explore the top treadmill running apps that will take your workout to the next level
- Uncover the perfect treadmill workout designed specifically for beginners
- Challenge yourself with advanced treadmill workouts that will leave you feeling accomplished
And guess what? There’s so much more waiting for you! Excited? Then let’s hit that start button and begin this exhilarating journey together!
How to Start Running On a Treadmill
Here’s what you stand to gain from hitting the belt more often.
Running on hard surfaces, like asphalt and concrete, increases the risks of overuse injury.
However, the treadmill belt offers extra cushioning that helps absorb much of this stress.
Forget About the Outdoor Conditions
Outdoor running exposes you to the elements, be it the weather, unsafe streets, uneven surfaces, etc.
All of these can stand in the way of your running success.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about any of this when running on the treadmill.
Simulate the Race
Preparing for a race?
A treadmill can help you nail your perfect pace.
For example, if you are planning for a hilly 10K race, you can simulate that racing experience by incline training or even intervals on the treadmill.
Additional Source – Check this treadmill pace chart
Safer Than Running Outside
Again, a treadmill can help you sidestep all of these risks.
Dealing with insecurities?
Worry no more.
Hopping on the treadmill gives you more privacy as you don’t have to fret about anyone judging your performance.
You can run at your own pace and call it to quit anytime you want.
On a treadmill, you have a say on your training conditions, helping you run with more accuracy, whether it’s speed, incline, calories burned, heart rate, step count, and so on.
Beginner Treadmill Workout FAQ: Answering All Your Burning Questions
Are you eager to start treadmill running but feeling unsure about how to begin? No worries, we’ve got you covered! Before we dive into the beginner treadmill workout, let’s address some common questions beginner runners often have about the treadmill.
How Fast Should I train on the Treadmill As A Beginner?
The answer depends on your current fitness level. If you’re just starting out and have a sedentary lifestyle or are over 50 and overweight, don’t worry about speed. It’s important to start slow and work your way up gradually. However, if you’re already active and in good shape, you can crank up the pace.
Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is essential to improving your cardiovascular fitness and endurance. If you can achieve a pace of 5 mph or higher as a beginner, that would be fantastic. This will give you room for growth and help you to get your heart rate up. Plus, it’s a great way to challenge your body and boost your confidence.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re not able to hit 5 mph right away. Remember that five miles per hour is the equivalent of a 12-minute mile, which is perfectly fine for someone who’s just starting out. To help you determine your per-mile pace, we’ve included a cheat sheet with various speeds and their corresponding minutes per mile.
Here’s a cheat sheet so you can have more ideas about your per-mile pace.
- 5.0 mph = 12:00 minutes per mile
- 5.5 mph = 10:55 minutes per mile
- 6.0 mph = 10:00 minutes per mile
- 6.5 mph = 9:14 minutes per mile
- 7.0 mph = 8:34 minutes per mile
- 7.5 mph = 8:00 minutes per mile
- 8.0 mph = 7:30 minutes per mile
How long Should a Beginner Train on a Treadmill?
Again, the answer depends on you.
Every beginner is different and has a different starting point.
Just do as much as you can in the beginning while staying within your fitness level and paying attention to your body’s needs and signals the entire time.
For a complete beginner, you can start off treadmill training at a slow pace for no more than 15 to 20 minutes three times a week.
Then slowly increase the duration to 30 to 40 minutes over the course of a few week.
Treadmill Vs. Outdoor Running
Are you torn between treadmill and outdoor running? Wondering which one is easier or better for you? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. However, let’s examine the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.
While outdoor running is a great way to connect with nature and explore your surroundings, it has its downsides. For instance, you are likely to encounter uneven terrain, potholes, and obstacles that can lead to injury. Running on asphalt or concrete surfaces is also high-impact and can take a toll on your joints, leading to overuse injuries over time.
On the other hand, treadmill running is a great option for those who want to avoid the challenges that come with outdoor running. With a treadmill, you don’t have to worry about the weather, unsafe streets, or uneven surfaces. The belt provides extra cushioning, which helps absorb much of the stress and impact of running, reducing your risk of injury.
Moreover, running on a treadmill allows you to monitor and track your progress more accurately. You have more control over the training conditions, such as speed, incline, heart rate, and calories burned. This information can help you optimize your workouts, set and achieve your goals, and stay motivated.
However, some runners argue that treadmill running is easier than outdoor running. The belt moving underneath you may create a feeling of ease and comfort, which can lead to a faster pace. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that running at the same speed and incline on a treadmill requires more energy than running outdoors due to the lack of air resistance.
How long should you run on a treadmill to lose weight?
If you’re looking to lose weight, especially if you’re really out of shape and/or embarrassed to run in public, the treadmill is exactly what you need.
How long you should train on it depends on you, but I’d recommend that you shoot for at least three 30 to 45 minutes sessions per week.
Keep in mind that exercise is only half the battle when it comes to losing weight—the other half being diet.
So, if you train often and eat clean, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be able to lose weight and keep it off for good.
Additional resource – Here’s your guide to running three miles a day.
How To Start Running on A Treadmill
To make the most out of your treadmill workouts, try to incorporate these two valuable training tips.
Know Your Treadmill
If you’re feeling nervous about using a treadmill for the first time, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Taking your first few steps on the treadmill can be quite daunting. But it’s not rocket science.
The first thing you need to do is locate the “Start Workout” or “Quick Workout” button. Once you do, hold onto the handrails, step onto the belt, and press the button. In 3…2…1, the belt will start to move. It’s that simple!
As you get started, keep in mind that you may feel a bit wobbly or dizzy. Don’t panic, this is completely normal! You’re practicing a new motor skill, and it will take a few sessions to feel at ease. Once you’re comfortable with the basic functions of the treadmill, start experimenting with the speed and incline/decline options.
Of course, not all treadmills are created equal. Some have minimal options, while others have a more complicated user interface.
But the basics are still the same: Start/Speed/Stop.
The Right Treadmill Workout Gear
Getting the right treadmill training gear is the first step.
Start by training in proper running shoes.
Of course, you won’t need specific shoes just for the treadmill
(although I’d recommend you do that, so you can still use the same running shoes for indoor and outdoor running— just make sure they are clean ).
As a rule, your running shoes have to fit well, which is why I always advise buying shoes from a specialty running store (here’s is how to make your shoes last longer).
Just like you’d choose proper clothing for outdoor runs, your treadmill runs deserve the same attention.
You also need comfortable wicking underwear. Don’t go for fancy cotton clothes. They won’t cut. They can cause more harm than good—and you don’t want that. I can assure you.
Female runners should also choose a sports bra that holds their chest securely in place.
Choose a lightweight tank for treadmill running. Make sure it’s made from high-performance, moisture-wicking fabrics to help wick moisture away from your body, keeping you dry and comfortable. Avoid wearing cotton clothing. More than likely, indoor running will make you sweat a lot. And all that sweat will stick to your clothes, causing all sorts of troubles.
To avoid at all times.
Here’s the full guide to proper running gear.
Remember to keep your body well-hydrated when running on the treadmill. You’ll be shedding a lot of fluids through sweat.
When running on the treadmill for more than 30 minutes, it’s key to drink water to stay hydrated.
As a general rule, drink about four to six ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
Last but not least, if you find yourself sweating more than usual when indoor running (or don’t have proper air conditioning), consider setting up a cooling fan. Sure, some treadmills have a build-in fan, but they tend to be less than powerful and effective.
Plus they only blow air at your face, ignoring the rest of your body. That ain’t good at all.
In addition, expect to sweat a lot—even if it’s cold outside—so get yourself a towel to wipe your arms, hands, and face as needed.
Warm-Up For Your Treadmill Workout
Just like outdoor running, the key to effective treadmill training is a proper warm-up.
Skipping it will only increase the risks of premature fatigue and injury.
A good warm-up helps you get your blood pumping and heart rate ticking and be for the hard effort ahead.
Invest in at least a 5 to 10 minutes warm-up period, then aim to slowly increase your speed as you go, but never speed up to the point that your form begins to suffer.
Pay attention to your body before you speed up.
Just as it’s more enjoyable to pound the pavement in the company of others, the same is true for treadmill running.
In fact, pairing up with a workout partner can turn long treadmill runs into a social hour—or two.
In case you can’t find a willing partner, then, at the very least, call a friend or enlist a family member to keep you company.
Additional resource – How to combine keto and running
Visualize a Route
Another trick to help you avoid the dreadmill is to visualize an outdoor route you like running on.
Imagine your favorite outdoor route and pretend that you are on it, running by certain landmarks, and play with the incline to simulate elevation change.
Your brain already has a storage of good running memories, and by using active visualization, you’re tapping into that valuable resource and using it to your advantage.
If you have difficulties visualizing, look for pictures on Google images of pristine running routes and imagine yourself tackling them.
Listen to Music
Think of running with music as a dissociative strategy.
It helps take your focus off of what’s ahead.
Also, listening to music while exercising can reduce the perception of exertion and boost endurance by up to 10 to 15 percent.
Pick a playlist with a nice uplifting beat—shoot for the 120-160 bpm range.
Not a fan of music?
Then turn to audiobooks or podcasts.
Some of my current favorites include The Joe Rogan Experience, Embedded, The Rubin Report, etc.
Visual is always the best distraction.
That’s why it’s more fun to run with the TV on.
Go for shows you don’t have to be too involved in and would rarely let yourself sit around and watch.
I won’t watch the walking dead finale on the treadmill.
Need some good ideas?
Here’s a list of my favorite shows:
- How I met Your Mother
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- Casa De Papel
- Stranger Things
- Into the Badlands
Additional resource – Here’s your guide to buying a second hand treadmill.
Treadmill Running Apps For beginners
No matter your running goals are, there’s probably an app for that.
You can find plenty of cheap apps for different running goals that you can download to make your training more exciting.
Need distraction? There’s an app for that!
Need motivation? There’s an app for that!
Need inspiration? There’s an app for that!
Need more structure for your training?
There’s an app for that.
See, there’s an app for almost any running goal or desire.
My best recommendation?
- Nike + Run Club. This app provides you with more than 50 guided runs, with over six sessions specifically tailored for the treadmill. The running sessions are roughly 20 to 30 minutes in length and come with audio instructions.
- Treadmill Trails. If you dread indoor running, then feel free to head outside in the virtual world with this app. Treadmill trails routes take you everywhere from Central Park in New York to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
- Peloton Digital. In this app, you can choose from more than 170 Tread Studio live and on-demand running classes that can go from 15 to 60 minutes in duration and cover everything from speedwork to race pace training.
- Studio. Another great app that offers treadmill classes that can last 15 to 60 minutes and work great for beginners runners as well as those training for the 11th
- Couch to 5K. Are you a complete running beginner? This app is for you. The Couch to 5K provides you with the exact training plan you need to go from a complete newbie to being able to run a 5K in 8 weeks or less. Pretty amazing!
- Zombies Run! You can turn your run into a virtual game with the app Zombies, Run!. This app turns your treadmill workout into a story about surviving a zombie attack.
Additional resource – How to start running at 50
Treadmill Running Form
Treadmill running form is essential.
Bad form hinders performance and leads to injury.
Keep your treadmill running technique in check by doing the following:
- Run tall and look straight ahead as if gazing at the horizon.
- Aim to run with your natural gait, and avoid taking short and quick strides as well as thumping the belt too hard. Not good for your sole and ankle.
- Keep your posture straight, the head should be up, back straight, and shoulders level.
- Never slouch or curve your back, especially when going against an incline. Open your chest, make space for more air.
- Let go of the handrails and keep pumping your arms the same way you do when running outside.
6 Treadmill Workouts For Beginners
If you’re not sure how to proceed with your next treadmill workout, here are six treadmill runs to get you started.
Routine I – The 30-minute Beginner Treadmill Workout
To get started, let’s dive into some beginner treadmill workouts. If you’re brand new to running, start with the 30-minute beginner routine. This workout incorporates intervals of slow jogging and walking breaks for recovery.
First step –Start walking at a 1.5 to 2 mph pace and stick to it for at least 10 minutes.
Be sure to breathe deeply and visualize success all the way through.
Mental preparation is key.
Second Step – Pick up the pace and start jogging at 5 to 5.5 mph for two minutes.
This is your first interval, so you shouldn’t push yourself here.
Practice good running form the entire time.
Run as tall as you can, engage your core, let go of the handrails, and swing your arms by the sides.
Keep your form aerodynamic,
Third Step – This is your first two minutes break, so make the most out of it.
Breathe deeply, towel off, and hydrate.
Fourth Step – Repeat the jogging/walking cycle for five times.
If it feels too much, pace yourself and slow it down, especially when your form starts to suffer.
Fifth Step –Slowly decrease your jogging pace and start walking at two mph for five minutes and cool down properly.
Breathe deeply and release all tension.
Make sure to also check in with your body and see how you feel.
Try to perform this workout at least three times per week during the first few weeks.
Then, as you get fitter and stronger, increase the time you spend jogging and less for recovery until you can run at a comfortable pace for 30 minutes without gasping for air.
Want more structure? Try my Couch to 5K treadmill Plan.
Routine II – The 30-minute Interval treadmill workout
Already a runner?
Then try this more challenging routine.
First Step – Warm up for 5 minutes by jogging slowly and taking deep breaths.
Skipping on the warm-up leads to premature fatigue or, even worse, injury.
Second Step – Run at your 5K pace (it should feel hard) for one to two minutes, depending on your fitness level.
Third Step – Recover by jogging slowly for one full minute.
Fourth Step – Repeat “Second Step” and “Third Step” five to eight times, depending on your fitness experience and training goals.
Fifth Step – End your workout with a 5-minute slow jog to cool down.
Stretch gently afterward.
A proper cool-down will help you avoid dizziness and might reduce muscle soreness for the following day.
Additional Resource- Your guide to curved treadmills
Routine III – The Incline Treadmill Workout
Want to take intervals to the next level? Do them on an incline.
This helps simulate outdoor hill running, which boosts endurance and builds killer lower-body strength.
First Step – Warm up for 10 minutes.
Second Step – Increase the incline to 3 or 4 percent and run for 90 seconds at 80 percent of max-effort—a pace that feels moderately challenging.
Third Step (Recovery) – Jog for 60 seconds with no incline.
This is your recovery break.
Fourth Step – Raise the incline to five or seven percent and run for another 90 seconds at 15 seconds slower than your 10K paces.
Recover for one minute.
Fifth Step – Repeat the previous step three to four times, depending on your fitness level and goals.
Choose a steeper incline for more challenge.
Sixth Step – Cool-down
Additional Resource – When to replace a treadmill belt
Routine IV – The Beginner Tempo Treadmill Run
A treadmill tempo workout teaches your body how to adapt efficiently to increased intensity.
This type of running helps you build up a fairly high volume of intense exercise that enhances both aerobic and lactate-threshold systems.
First Step – Warm up for 10 minutes.
Second Step – Run a mile at 20 to 30 seconds slower than your half-marathon pace—a pace that feels comfortably easy.
Third Step – Pick up the pace every mile by five to 20 seconds until you’re running the final mile 20 to 30 seconds faster than your half marathon pace.
Fourth step – Cool down for five minutes.
Additional resource – How To run with a partner
Routine V – The Pyramid Treadmill Workout
Pyramid workouts are straightforward.
You’re simply kicking off your hard interval at one-minute segments, going for a longer running segment, and then working you’re back down one minute.
It should take you at least 50 minutes to complete the routine, but that’s not cast in stone.
Do what feels the best for you, and remember to always stay within your fitness level.
First Step – Five minutes: The Warm-up
Start with a proper warm-up, jogging for 10 minutes at a speed of 4 to 5 mph with no incline.
Second Step –Seven minutes: 1st Ladder
Increase speed to 6.0 mph and keep it going for the next three minutes. Practice good form.
Keep your torso straight, and your body relaxed from head to toe.
Next, increase the speed to 7 mph and incline to three percent for four minutes.
Second Step – Two minutes: Recovery
Slow down and recover for three minutes.
Hydrate, breathe deeply and release any built-up tension.
Third Step – Nine minutes: 2nd Ladder Interval
Increase the speed to 7 mph and incline to three percent for four minutes.
Next, increase the speed again to 8 mph and incline to five percent for five minutes.
Fourth Step – Two Minutes: Recovery
Slow down to 4 mph with a two percent incline.
Fifth Step – Nine minutes: 3rd Ladder
Increase speed to 7 to 7.5 mph and incline to five percent, and keep running strong for a full five minutes.
For the upcoming four-minute, keep the same speed, but lower the incline to three percent.
Sixth Step – Two minutes: Recovery
Slow down to 4 mph and recover.
Seventh Step – Six minutes: Ladder No 4
Speed it up to 8 mph and raise the incline to three percent.
Then, for the next two minutes, keep the same speed but raise the incline to five percent for the last interval of this pyramid workout.
Eighth Step – Five minutes: The cool-down
Jog slowly for ten minutes at a speed of 4 mph with no incline.
Additional resource – How to become a morning a runner
Routine VI – The Beginner Hybrid Treadmill Workout
Mixing treadmill training with bodyweight exercises can help you burn more fat, improve performance, and bust treadmill boredom.
Here is a CrossFit-Running treadmill workout.
It’s one of my favorites.
You can choose to add these bodyweight exercises to your treadmill workout any way you like.
After a proper warm-up of 5 minutes of jogging and some dynamic exercises, do the following.
- Sprint for 30-second
- Pushups: 8-12 reps
- Sprint for 30-second
- Squat Jumps: 8-12 reps
- Sprint for 30-second
- Treadmill recovery: 90 seconds of slow jogging.
- Sprint for 30-second
- Jumping jacks: 60 seconds
- Lunge steps: 16 to 20 reps
- Sprint for 30-second
- Finish it off with a 5-minute slow jog as a cool down, followed by stretching.
Need more structure?
Try my beginner running plan.
For more, check my How to design your running program guide.
Treadmill workouts for beginners – The Conclusion
Still, wondering how to start running on a treadmill? Then I believe today’s post has you covered.
The above simple training guidelines are all you need to start treadmill running.
The rest is really up to you.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
And please, if you have any treadmill workouts for beginners, please share.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Keep running strong.