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How To Properly Run On The Treadmill

Running on a treadmill is a different experience than hitting the pavement outside, but the transition from running outdoors to running on a treadmill opens up tons of possibilities for movement. Learn more about all the things you should know before you start running on a treadmill—from setting up a treadmill to basic running techniques and more.

What setting should I run on the treadmill?

indoor gym with treadmills

Before you begin running on a treadmill, you’ll want to set yourself up to be successful. This means understanding the ways your treadmill works and having the proper gear to start your run. 

1. Understand your treadmill

Running on a treadmill isn’t complicated by any means, but before you just hop on, it’s a good idea to understand the equipment you are stepping onto! 

Speed

Every treadmill (aside from a manual treadmill) has different speed settings. These speed settings often range from 1-10mph or 1-12mph. If you want to walk on the treadmill you’ll likely be at 1-4mph, while most jogging is 4-6mph and running is anything over. If you are a beginner to being on a treadmill be sure to start slow and pick up your feet as the belt moves underneath you. When you get comfortable you can start picking up the pace. Also, it’s never recommended to hop off the treadmill while it moves, so be sure to slow down first and then stop the treadmill.

Here are some basic speeds and mile times 

  • 3 mph= 20 minute mile
  • 4 mph = 15 minute mile
  • 5 mph = 12 minute mile 
  • 6 mph = 10 minute mile 
  • 7 mph = 8.34 minute mile 
  • 8 mph = 7.30 minute mile 

What are some good run times?

If you’re new to running, you might be wondering what is considered “good” running times. Although there are many factors that can influence how fast you run, including your age and fitness level, a non-competitive, in-shape runner usually can run one mile in about 9 to 10 minutes. For newer runners, a 12 to 15-minute mile is more likely. As you continue running and build your endurance, you’ll get faster and stronger.

Incline

In addition to knowing the speeds your treadmill has, you can also play with inclines. Most treadmills have a range between .5-15% incline. While many consider a 1 % incline as running on a flat road outside (because of the elimination of wind and other variables). We recommend starting at a 1 % incline and then adding in my hills as you’d like to. 

Intervals

The other thing you’ll notice on your treadmill is pre-programmed interval workouts. These are often varying in time and intensity, but change the speed and incline for you to challenge yourself throughout. You’ll find different treadmills have different workouts to explore. 

Heart rate

Not every treadmill will have a heart rate monitor, but many do have the option. Whether that’s grabbing hold of the sidebars or the front bar to read your heart rate or using a strap that hooks up to a heart rate monitor on the treadmill. If you can, we recommend the heart rate straps because grabbing the bars can be difficult to maintain good form. Even though this might seem unnecessary, seeing your heart rate especially as a beginner can be helpful to measure your output.

2. Have the right gear

Aside from knowing your treadmill’s features, you want the right gear to run in. Running on a treadmill is great as it doesn’t require a lot of equipment, however, some simple things like the right shoes and clothes can go a long way. 

Choose the right shoes

If you’ve talked to any runner about their gear, you’ll know that running shoe matter. But the right running shoes aren’t just for pros; they make a difference for everyone. So, before you lace up and run, be sure you have proper running shoes

A great thing about running on a treadmill is, all in all, it can be a low investment, but where you may want to put in some investment in your shoes. Correct running shoes can help you prevent injury and establish better form. 

Here are a couple of things to consider while you shop for shoes—

  • What kind of running will you be doing? 

Are you planning on using shoes on a treadmill and outdoors? Are you a sprinter? Are you planning on going on long runs? The type of running you do (or want to do) can help determine the best shoe. 

  • How wide is your foot? 

Running shoes vary in width. Thus, depending on if you have a narrower or wider foot, you’ll want a shoe that fits. 

  • Not too big… not too small 

So here is the thing with running shoes: you will want some space in the front, so your toe doesn’t constantly hit against the shoe—usually, it’s recommended to have about thumbs worth of space. However, you don’t want it so big that your foot is sliding around in the shoe. 

Have the right clothes 

You want to have clothes that are comfortable to run in. This could be a T-shirt or shorts, but specific gear for running can help ensure your clothes are comfortable, not sagging, or too tight and breathable as you run. 

Here are some questions that might help you pick the right clothes

  • What type of material is comfortable for you? 

Do you like more spandex-like material, cotton, or polyester? Do you like things to feel soft or anti-slip? 

  • Do you tend to run hot or cold? 

Your typical body temperature, and how you are when you workout will help you pick the right outfit. You want something that’s breathable and will keep you cool, but if you run cold not be too cold. 

What is the proper way to run on a treadmill?

woman running on a treadmill at a gym

After you have a good understanding of the ways your treadmill works and what you need for running on the treadmill, here are some basics that will help you once you’ve hopped on the treadmill. 

3. Run as if it’s outdoors

A common mistake beginners make when running on a treadmill is treating it differently from an outdoor run, running differently, and changing their posture or stride. While you are indoors, you want to run exactly as you would outside. This will help prevent injury, keep you in good posture, and get the same results as outdoor running. 

Let your arms sway 

While there are often bars to grab ahold of while you walk or run, we don’t recommend holding them. If you need to hold them, instead consider slowing down the pace so you can walk or run without it. Letting your arms sways naturally helps with your balance and your rhythm. For example, your arms can help you keep a cadence when you run. When you speed up your arms it helps your legs speed up. 

Look ahead

Just like you would on the road, or a path, while running on a treadmill, you want to look ahead. Keeping your gaze ahead helps avoid any crank in your neck and keeps you in proper alignment. 

Keep your natural stride

Another common mistake is changing your stride because you are running on a treadmill, making it awkwardly long or shuffling your feet underneath you. You want to avoid doing both and take a natural stride. 

Don’t forget to warm up and cool-down 

Running on a treadmill still requires a proper warm-up and cool-down. A great warmup before stepping on a treadmill is active stretching. Our favorite routine is—

  • leg swings: swinging one leg forward and back and letting it sway side to side 
  • lunge steps: stepping forward and back and bending both knees
  • calf raises: rocking high up onto the toes and coming back down
  • high knees: running in place and drawing the knees up into your chest 

Then after your walk or run, before you hop off the treadmill, start your cool down by slowing the pace down and gently walking. Then do some full-body stretches. Unlike your warmup, you can hold these stretches and breathe. Now would be a good time to foam roll out if you have a foam roller. 

Why is running on a treadmill more difficult?

Woman looking off in the distance while running on her treadmill at home.

Although running outside is generally considered more challenging, sometimes, running on a treadmill can feel more difficult than outdoor running. That’s because the views never change when you’re running on a treadmill and hours spent staring at the same spot on the wall can get very monotonous and boring.

To make running on the treadmill more exciting, some people watch TV or listen to audiobooks while they run. You can also download Vingo and run in virtual reality as you explore exciting routes around the world. Running with Vingo makes exercising indoors a fun adventure every time you step on your treadmill.

How can I make running on the treadmill more fun?

group of people looking at a cell phone

Lastly, finding success on the treadmill is to keep things entertaining—many dread running on a treadmill because they miss the natural entertainment of running outdoors. However, running on a treadmill can be really entertaining and gives you access to different entertainment that would be unsafe outside. 

4. Connect with a community 

A common misconception about running on a treadmill is you are all by yourself. But just because you are running on a treadmill doesn’t mean you have to do it alone! Having some company while you run can make all the difference. 

If you are looking to run with someone, you can try— 

  • Calling a friend! Chat with a friend on the phone while you run 
  • Join Vingo and meet new friends. Run alongside people on Vingo and chat with them as well 
  • Create an accountability group or join a virtual running group 

5. Try a virtual training app 

Virtual training apps allow you to spice up running or walking on a treadmill and explore new places or workouts. Some training apps give you access to live people or live workouts. Or other apps like Vingo let you explore new worlds, landscapes, countries, and terrain from your treadmill.

How do I join a virtual run?

A couple looking at a tablet smiling.

First, download an online running app like Vingo. Then, create your account, select a route to explore, and start running! It’s that easy! As long as you have access to a treadmill, you can run virtually from any space, including your home or a gym. Select the routes of your choice, customize their difficulty based on your goals, track your progress, and invite friends along for the journey.

Alternatively, you can also sign up to participate in a virtual community-run. Registration for these types of events is typically available online via social media, specific organizations’ websites or event websites like Eventbrite.

How do I make a virtual 5K?

A man running against the sunset with '5k' next to him!

Hosting a virtual 5K is another great way to participate in online running with friends or fellow runners while you work out on your treadmill. Whether you want to create a virtual 5K for an organization, a cause you care about, or for some other reason, just follow these simple steps to get it done:

  • Decide on the event details, including the date, time, and entry fee (if you want to charge one).
  • Set up a registration system for your virtual race. You can use online tools like Eventbrite or even Facebook for a simple signup and organization process.
  • Promote your event via email, social media, and even word of mouth to spread the news and get other runners interested in participating.
  • Actively participate in your event once race day arrives. Encourage participants to share their stats on social media. Share event data, such as how many people participated, the amount of funds that were raised, or the various locations of your participants from around the country or the world.

Making a virtual 5K isn’t difficult and anyone can do it. It just takes a little bit of planning and foresight to ensure things run smoothly.

Key takeaways on tips for a treadmill:

Running on a treadmill can open a whole new world of possibilities for your exercise. You can walk, jog, or run at any time for any amount of time. The weather doesn’t inhibit you, and you can access new types of entertainment.

To enjoy your treadmill to the max, be sure to understand all the features on your treadmill, have the right gear, and treat your run as if you are outside. From there, just let yourself go!

Tired of hypercompetitive fitness apps?

Enjoy Vingo’s judgment-free community!
marker Explore new worlds on many different terrains
marker Personalize your avatar with cool clothes and gears
marker Experience Vingo anywhere on any exercise bike or treadmill

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Photo Sources:
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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