How To Run On A Treadmill: Basics, Benefits + 5 Fun Workouts To Try

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Whether you’re a beginner runner or have logged enough miles over your lifetime in the sport to circle the globe, chances are, you’ve found yourself running on a treadmill at one point or another.

Many runners have a love-hate relationship with the treadmill. It’s a great training tool and safer alternative to running in the dark or outside during a winter blizzard, but treadmill workouts can also be painfully boring, with each minute seemingly stretching an eternity. 

However, if you learn how to run on a treadmill, and how to best use the treadmill, you can transform monotonous treadmill runs into engaging and motivating treadmill workouts that will not only fly by but also help you become a fitter and faster runner by spring.

For tips on how to run on a treadmill, the best treadmill workouts for beginners, and how to make treadmill workouts more fun, keep reading for our complete treadmill running guide.

In this guide, we’re going to look at:

  • 5 Benefits of Treadmill Workouts
  • Treadmill Basics for Beginners
  • How to Run On a Treadmill
  • 5 Tips to Make Running On a Treadmill Less Boring
  • 5 Treadmill Workouts for Beginners


Let’s dive in!

How To Run On A Treadmill

5 Benefits of Treadmill Workouts

Although you might dread treadmill workouts, there are actually quite a few potential benefits to running on a treadmill, including the following:

#1: Treadmills Workouts Can Be More Approachable for Beginners

Some beginner runners feel self-conscious about running outdoors in public, but a treadmill workout for beginners can potentially provide more privacy. 

#2: Treadmill Workouts Are Measurable

The treadmill console keeps track of your workout stats, so runners can replicate the same workouts or easily track their progress over time.

#3: Treadmill Workouts Can Simulate Race Conditions

Some runners worry that treadmills do not simulate outdoor running, but research indicates that they do, so treadmills can be great tools to help runners train for races. 

How to Run on A treadmill

You can easily ramp up the speed to your goal race pace, and simply turn your brain off and keep up, rather than having to use a watch and consciously try to maintain a set pace for your workout.

Moreover, you can replicate a race course on a treadmill regardless of the terrain and topography where you live. For example, if you’re going to be running a hilly marathon but live in a flat area, you can simulate the uphills you’ll encounter in your race on a treadmill.

Related article: ProForm City L6 Review: A Compact And Portable Treadmill

#4: Treadmill Running Is Safe

Running in certain neighborhoods, in the dark, frigid, or sweltering temperatures, smoggy environments, or on icy and slippery roads can be dangerous. 

Running on the treadmill removes the potential hazards and risks of running outdoors where traffic, dogs, bad weather, and seedy people can compromise your safety as a runner.

#5: Treadmills Reduce Joint Impact

Most treadmills have cushioned running decks, so they reduce the impact and stress on your joints relative to hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete. In this way, running on a treadmill can potentially reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

How to Run on A treadmill 3

Treadmill Basics for Beginners

As this is a complete treadmill running guide, it is helpful to quickly cover a few basics of the treadmill.

Most treadmills have a console, which is the display with all your workout metrics. The primary numbers on the treadmill for beginners to pay attention to are speed, incline, distance, and time. Note that a treadmill may also keep track of the calories you burn, but this value is not always accurate.

Treadmill speed refers to how fast you are running. The speed on a treadmill is usually in miles per hour. Some treadmills also display your pace, a more familiar metric to most runners, or you can determine your pace from your treadmill speed as follows:

  • 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
  • 8.5 mph = 7:00 minutes per mile
  • 9.0 mph = 6:40 minutes per mile
  • 9.5 mph = 6:19 minutes per mile
  • 10 mph = 6:00 minutes per mile
How to Run on A treadmill

The incline denotes the slope of the treadmill. Increasing the incline significantly increases the intensity of the treadmill workout and utilizes your posterior chain muscles (hamstrings, glutes, and calves) more.

The distance is how far you’ve run, and is a product of your speed and the time you’ve been on the treadmill.

The time keeps track of how long you’ve been doing your treadmill workout.

How to Run On a Treadmill

Beginners are often unsure of how to run on a treadmill. There are several different approaches to get going.

The simplest approach of how to run on a treadmill for beginners is simply to get on, press the quick-start button, and increase the speed until you’re at a comfortable warmup pace. 

How to Run on A treadmill

Warm-up for a few minutes with easy walking or jogging, depending on your fitness level. From there, you can get into the heart of your treadmill workout by adjusting the treadmill speed and incline according to your goals.

Alternatively, you can use a pre-programmed treadmill workout. Most treadmills these days have preset workouts with various intervals of more challenging speeds and inclines followed by recovery intervals. These treadmill workouts can be useful for beginners looking for guidance and structure.

Regardless of whether you use manual programming or a preset treadmill workout, you should use the same good running form on a treadmill that you strive for outside.

Do not hold onto the handrails while you run, as doing so compromises your running form and significantly detracts from the effectiveness of your treadmill workout. 

Stay centered on the running deck, and use the safety clip for emergency stops.

How to Run on A treadmill

5 Tips to Make Running On the Treadmill Less Boring

Without the distracting beauty of the great outdoors and the changing scenery of your route, running on a treadmill can feel rather boring compared to running outside. However, there are ways to spice up your treadmill workouts:

#1: Recruit a Friend

If you normally run outdoors with a buddy or running group, bring your social support to your treadmill runs. Head to the gym with your running buddy and hit up adjacent treadmills. You’ll get to enjoy the normal banter of an outdoor run and won’t miss out on the camaraderie of running.

#2: Mix It Up

Rather than plodding along at a steady pace, break up your treadmill workout by adding in bursts of speed or incline. Tackling intervals can help the time on the treadmill fly by.

How to Run on A treadmill

#3: Watch a Show

Whether you’re a fan of Schitt’s Creek or the Great British Bake Off, use your treadmill workout as a time to watch your favorite TV show or movie. One pro tip is to only allow yourself to watch the show when you’re on the treadmill. Suddenly, a treadmill workout is looking more appealing…

#4: Pump Up the Jams

Create motivating playlists to make your treadmill workout fun.

#5: Use An App

There are several apps designed to be used on a treadmill. These apps often have engaging treadmill workouts for beginners and competitive runners alike or may have immersive scenery to help you visualize running outdoors.

Examples of apps for treadmill workouts include Peloton Digital, Run the World, Treadmill Trails, Nike+ Run Club, Zwift, and Couch to 5k Treadmill App.

How to Run on A treadmill

5 Treadmill Workouts for Beginners

New runners often want to know what is the best treadmill workout for beginners, but truthfully, there is no single best treadmill workout, as it depends on your fitness level and goals. 

However, here are five ideas for treadmill workouts for beginners. Adjust the speed based on your fitness level.

#1: Steady Does It

  1. 5 minutes brisk walking
  2. 15-25 minutes at a steady jogging pace.
  3. 5 minutes brisk walking 

#2: 20-Minute HIIT Treadmill Workout for Beginners

  1. 5 minute warm up, walking or jogging slowly.
  2. 10 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Aim for a pace that feels like a fast run.
  3. 5 minute cool down walk.
How to Run on A treadmill

#3: 30-Minute HIIT Treadmill Workout at 10-Minute Pace

Note that you can choose a different pace for your hard intervals. Just choose a speed that feels like you’re working at 70-85% capacity.

  1. 5 minute warm up jog.
  2. 16 x 45 seconds hard at 6 mph, 30 seconds easy at 4 mph.
  3. 5 minute cool down jog.

#4: 30-Minute Incline Treadmill Workout for Beginners

  1. 5 minute warm up, walking or jogging slowly.
  2. 10 x 1 minute at a 3.0 incline with 1 minute recovery at 0% incline in between each.
  3. 5 minute cool down walk.

#5: Advanced “HIIT” the Hills for Beginners Training for a Race

  1. 5 minute warm up jog.
  2. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 2.0 incline
  3. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  4. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 3.0 incline
  5. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  6. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 4.0 incline
  7. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  8. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 5.0 incline
  9. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  10. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 6.0 incline
  11. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  12. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 5.0 incline
  13. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  14. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 4.0 incline
  15. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  16. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 3.0 incline
  17. 45 seconds easy and at 0 incline
  18. 1 x 1 minute at 5k pace at 2.0 incline
  19. 5 minute cool down.

Now that you know how to run on a treadmill, you should be ready to give these workouts a try! If you are a complete beginner and would like to start your running career off with a Couch to 5k on a treadmill, check out our guide and training plans!

How to Run on A treadmill
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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