Running on a treadmill is pretty simple: Hop on, press start and move your legs until you’re done. But one runner’s basic is another’s boring—so we turned to running coach David Siik, the creator of Precision Run at Equinox, for some treadmill workouts to spice things up.
Once you step onto the treadmill, there are three elements that you can change: incline, speed and duration. When developing this program, Siik created workouts that focus on each variable—and then a master workout that includes all three.
If you’re a treadmill newbie, this plan will serve as a beginner’s guide. If you’re a regular treadmill runner, these workouts will make you sweat in a completely fun, new way.
Before you begin, determine your “starting speed.” This is the speed at which you will begin each workout. This speed should feel like a medium effort that gets harder as the intervals progress. Here are two ways to find your starting speed:
Estimate your 1-minute treadmill personal best
Or the fastest speed you could go for a minute on the treadmill, then subtract 2 mph. (Ex. If your max is 8 mph, your starting speed is 6 mph.)
If you’re not sure what your 1-minute speed would be, try this test: Run for 2 minutes at 5 mph and then ask yourself… How does that feel?
- Like a jog: Start at 6–7 mph
- Like a run: Start at 5–6 mph
- Very challenging: Start at 4–5 mph
It takes time for a treadmill to adjust to a new incline or speed, so make any changes with 10 seconds left in your recovery Siik calls this ramping-up period “lead time.”
Keep in mind: Once you do one of the following treadmill workouts, you’ll see how you feel as the incline and/or speed change, and you can adjust your starting mph if necessary on the next workout. As you become stronger, you can inch your starting speed up to keep challenging yourself.
Your Two-Week Treadmill Challenge
With this plan, you will do each workout that focuses on a different element (incline, speed or duration) twice so the first is like a test and the second is a confidence boost before pulling everything together.
- Day 1: Run #1: Incline Up
- Day 2: Rest or work out off the treadmill
- Day 3: Run #2: Speed Demon
- Day 4: Rest or work out off the treadmill
- Day 5: Run #3: Duration Drill
- Day 6: Rest or work out off the treadmill
- Day 7: Run #1: Incline Up
- Day 8: Rest or work out off the treadmill
- Day 9: Run #2: Speed Demon
- Day 10: Rest or work out off the treadmill
- Day 11: Run #3: Duration Drill
- Day 12: Rest or work out off the treadmill
- Day 13: Run #4: Combo Queen
- Day 14: Rejoice!
Run #1: Incline Up
For this 15-minute workout, start with 2–5 easy minutes at no incline to warm up. For the meat of the workout, you’ll maintain the same speed and the incline will increase by 1 percent for each interval. Follow each interval with a 1-minute walk/jog recovery at any pace that feels comfortable. After the cool-down, spend 5 minutes stretching.
Run #2: Speed Demon
For this 15-minute workout, start with 2–5 easy minutes at no incline to warm up. This time the incline stays at 0 percent, and the speed increases 0.4 mph with each interval. By the last interval, you’ll reach your max speed goal. After the cool-down, spend 5 minutes stretching.
Run #3: Duration Drill
Your speed and incline will stay the same for this workout, which is a little longer than the others. For this 20-minute workout, start with 2–5 easy minutes at no incline to warm up. Each interval will increase in length. After the cool-down, spend 5 minutes stretching.
Run #4: Combo Queen
This 25-minute workout will include changes in incline, speed and duration. Start with 2–5 easy minutes to warm up. The first three intervals will focus on changing the incline, the next three will change in speed and the last three intervals will increase in time—but you’ll keep at the hardest level as you move on to the next challenge. After this run, you will be a master of all elements! Be sure to do an additional 5 minutes of stretching after your cool-down.