How fast should I set the treadmill? Training tips

When I started running, the treadmill was slightly intimidating.  Every 2 seconds I would change my pace.  I know we have all been there.  If you are working on training for a race and you aren’t doing tempo, intervals or speed work, here are some tips.

funny-treadmill-picNever run so fast that you lose your breath.  You should be “breathy”, but still be able to talk.  If you can’t talk you will run out of steam before you finish a long run because chances are you have the treadmill set too fast.  Find a comfortable pace where you feel like you are breathing heavier than normal, but can still answer a question if someone was talking to you.  That is a good rule of thumb.



Use your outside pace as a gauge.  If you run a 10 minute mile than set the treadmill at 6 which equals a 10 minute mile.  4= 15 minute miles etc.  It isn’t rocket science, but I think it is an interesting phenomenon that for example, a runner who runs a 11:15 mile outside comes to the treadmill and sets it at 8 (7.5 min mile) and are walking about 8 minutes later out of breath.  This is fine for speed, but if you are doing distance training you need to train at a pace that you can keep up for A DISTANCE.  I was guilty of  this all the time when I started running.  The treadmill isn’t a sprint machine.  During a race you find your pace and on a treadmill you need to do the same thing.


If you are running for a long period of time the treadmill can get quite boring.  I like to bring my iPad and watch a couple episodes of Scandal.  This helps time pass quicker and makes it more enjoyable for me.  I am also not looking at the clock every 2 seconds because my iPad is blocking it from view.


I once heard that if you want to mimic the terrain outside you should set your incline on the treadmill at 2.  I usually start at a 1 and will move up to a 2 after I’m warmed up.  Don’t be scared of the incline.  If you have a good comfortable pace I would play around with the incline a little.  When you run outside it is never completely flat.


It is hard at the gym when you have a person next to you who seems fast enough to be in the Olympics.  Don’t speed up to a pace that you will burn out at.  It is YOUR workout and no one else’s.  Zone them out.


Also zone out the ones who just bug you.  You know who I am talking about.  The person who picks the treadmill right next you when there is a row of 30 empty ones and they also kind of smell and keep looking over at you.  Ya, that person, zone them out.


Most runners have a love hate relationship with the treadmill.  It is often referred to as the dreadmill.  When it is snowing, pouring rain or -10 degrees outside though the treadmill is important to keep you training.  Don’t get discouraged.

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  1. Patty @ Reach Your Peak | 27th Feb 14

    Great tips! Ugh I hate the treadmill…I do about a 10:30-11 min mile outside, but on the treadmill it just feels sooo slooowwww so sometimes I’m tempted to speed up. What I do to pass the time is play around with incline and speed (though not enough to burn out). So I’ll do a 3 incline at normal pace for 1 min. then jog easy for 5 min, then maybe a 5 incline for 30 seconds and go a tiny bit faster (.2 or so), etc. I wish my gym had wifi so I could watch netflix!

    • Half Crazy Mama | 27th Feb 14

      Wifi at a gym for Netflix is DEFINITELY an added bonus. I can make it about 45 min on the treadmill with just music. Anything longer than that I need more entertainment and love my iPad.

  2. Kristen @ The Smith Summary | 27th Feb 14

    I need my iPad and my Hulu Plus!

  3. Leslee | 28th Feb 14

    Definitely call ‘that thing’ the DREADMILL!!!! Fortunately, there aren’t too many days that I cannot run outside and can avoid the torture of the dreadmill…

  4. Suzanna | 1st Mar 14

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who watches Scandal on my iPad while on the treadmill! Sometimes that’s the only thing that gets me through a run!

  5. Julie Banyard | 2nd Mar 14

    I’m not defending the weirdos who ignore all the empty treadmills to run next to you but I have been guilty of it myself. I can’t help it there’s one treadmill at my gym that for some reason I think of as mine and even if every other treadmill is empty I will still run next to someone if it means I get my treadmill. I am aware of how obsessive that makes me sound. X

    • Half Crazy Mama | 3rd Mar 14

      Lol! I never thought about people loving a specific treadmill. I guess that is a valid point 🙂 There is one specific treadmill that I hate at my gym because the belt on it slips, so that is kind of the same idea. I would never run on that treadmill even if it is the only one.

    • sara | 26th Nov 14

      Omg I am exactly the same. I have one specific treadmill and I do feel embarrassed when all the others are empty and I home in on mine when someome is on the ine next to it!

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