Can you train for a marathon on a treadmill? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: See below.
A lot of people do marathon training on a treadmill. There are a million reasons for this, like snow, sun, time constraints, convenience, or my favorite…the ability to binge watch Netflix while running on a treadmill. Running outside might have it’s beautiful scenery, but you can’t catch up on Game of Thrones right?
All kidding aside, there are several things you will want to consider while running on a treadmill. If you have a marathon training plan you are sticking to then you already have mileage laid out. For example, 3-5 miles three times a week and then a long run on Saturday. You can do those miles on a treadmill, BUT remember that when you run outside the ground is not 100% flat like a treadmill on zero incline. I once read that running at a TWO incline on the treadmill mimics real terrain. Personally I live in an area where there are hills, so that isn’t mimicking my area, but it’s better than a zero incline. So keep treadmill incline in mind if you are training on a treadmill. Also remember, what goes up must come down. That means that finding a treadmill that also offers a DECLINE option is awesome. Train with some ups and downs to get you best prepared.
Pace is one of the most important parts of marathon running. The treadmill is a good place to work on finding your pace and setting those goals. Have a faster pace than your marathon end pace goal for your shorter runs to help build your speed and stamina.
Most importantly, any good training means sticking to a schedule. If you are stuck with training on a treadmill don’t stray from the schedule. It can get boring, but remember the end game!