12 Speed Training Workouts On A Treadmill

Treadmill Running

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By Simon Gould

Once you've been running a while you're going to start wanting to run quicker. You may be able to run a mile in 8 minutes or so. You may see people in races run quicker than you. Maybe you've read about people doing 6 minute miles and you wouldn't mind some of that. The answer to getting quicker is to introduce speed training into your routine.

The good thing is that speed training and a treadmill go hand in hand. The treadmill has all the information you need for speed training on it's console. You need the timer to know when to change into a lower or higher incline. You have a speed counter so you can run faster or slower as the speed training allows.

Here I give 4 of each fartlek, tempo and interval workouts together with the difference between them. This way you'll know which one may suit you better or maybe you want to try them all. All are designed to break the monotony that your treadmill workout might be and get you doing your normal runs quicker, whether you run them inside or out.

Treadmill Running

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Fartlek

Fartlek is a Swedish term meaning "speed play". The term perfectly describes fartlek training because you play with the timing that the quicker speed occurs. Outside fartlek is running quicker till you get to a tree or some other point. It's like something you may have done when you're younger by beating a friend to the next sign. You run quicker and then have a slower rest run.

Due to the random nature of when the fast run occurs and how long it occurs gives you flexibility when using a treadmill. For this reason you can include hills. The idea is when you've finished the quicker segment, you slow down to a normal pace until you've regained your heart and breathing rate. Here I have some fartlek plans you might enjoy.

Treadmill speed workout #1 (fartlek)

Take 5 minutes to warm up and 5 to cool down. Just make it a slow jog or a walk if you don't run too fast anyway. The runs are a burst of speed for a short time and then recovery. You choose the maximum speed and make sure you can last the full 20 minutes, so don't set out too fast. As you can see it changes every minute once you get going.

  • 00:00 - 05:00 - Gentle 5 minute warm up at an easy jog
  • 05:00 - 06:00 - Fast run
  • 06:00 - 07:00 - Normal
  • 07:00 - 08:00 - Above average
  • 08:00 - 09:00 - Normal
  • 09:00 - 10:00 - Fast
  • 10:00 - 11:00 - Normal
  • 11:00 - 12:00 - Max
  • 12:00 - 13:00 - Normal
  • 13:00 - 14:00 - Max
  • 14:00 - 15:00 - Normal
  • 15:00 - 16:00 - Fast
  • 16:00 - 17:00 - Normal
  • 17:00 - 18:00 - Above average
  • 18:00 - 19:00 - Normal
  • 19:00 - 20:00 - Above average
  • 20:00 - 21:00 - Normal
  • 21:00 - 22:00 - Max
  • 22:00 - 23:00 - Normal
  • 23:00 - 24:00 - Fast
  • 24:00 - 25:00 - Normal
  • 25:00 - 30:00 - Gentle 5 minute cool down at an easy jog

Treadmill speed workout #2 (fartlek)

The great thing about a treadmill is the incline. This can target the legs in a different way. We're going to use just the incline in this fartlek workout. You'll be in the anaerobic zone so your legs will really burn by the end of this one. Again it's going to be steep then flat or 1%. Try to make it a speed you can keep going at for 20 minutes.

  • 00:00 - 05:00 - 0% incline for a gentle 5 minutes warm up
  • 05:00 - 06:00 - 2% incline
  • 06:00 - 07:00 - 0%
  • 07:00 - 08:00 - 3%
  • 08:00 - 09:00 - 1%
  • 09:00 - 10:00 - 3%
  • 10:00 - 11:00 - 0%
  • 11:00 - 12:00 - 2%
  • 12:00 - 13:00 - 1%
  • 13:00 - 14:00 - 4%
  • 14:00 - 15:00 - 2%
  • 15:00 - 16:00 - 1%
  • 16:00 - 17:00 - 3%
  • 17:00 - 18:00 - 0%
  • 18:00 - 19:00 - 1%
  • 19:00 - 20:00 - 2%
  • 20:00 - 21:00 - 0%
  • 21:00 - 22:00 - 3%
  • 22:00 - 23:00 - 1%
  • 23:00 - 24:00 - 2%
  • 24:00 - 25:00 - 1%
  • 25:00 - 30:00 - 0% for a gentle 5 minute cool down

Treadmill speed workout #3 (fartlek)

This one is a little complicated for a treadmill. This is because I'm combining speed and incline. So you'll be busy changing the speed and incline settings with this one. You'll find it hard on your legs. Give it a try if you can. You can always change it slightly for your needs. Ultimately you should determine the speed.

  • 00:00 - 05:00 - 0% incline for a gentle 5 minute warm up
  • 05:00 - 06:00 - 2% incline, normal speed
  • 06:00 - 07:00 - 0%, fast
  • 07:00 - 08:00 - 3%, normal
  • 08:00 - 09:00 - 1%, above average
  • 09:00 - 10:00 - 3%, normal
  • 10:00 - 11:00 - 0%, above average
  • 11:00 - 12:00 - 2%, normal
  • 12:00 - 13:00 - 1%, above average
  • 13:00 - 14:00 - 4%, normal
  • 14:00 - 15:00 - 2%, above average
  • 15:00 - 16:00 - 1%, normal
  • 16:00 - 17:00 - 3%, normal
  • 17:00 - 18:00 - 0%, max
  • 18:00 - 19:00 - 1%, above average
  • 19:00 - 20:00 - 2%, fast
  • 20:00 - 21:00 - 1%, above average
  • 21:00 - 22:00 - 3%, normal
  • 22:00 - 23:00 - 0%, fast
  • 23:00 - 24:00 - 2%, above average
  • 24:00 - 25:00 - 1%, fast
  • 25:00 - 30:00 - 0% for a gentle 5 minute cool down

Treadmill speed workout #4 (fartlek)

This one I'll go back to using speed. It's a pyramid workout and I like using this one. It gets harder and harder till you get to a peak in the middle and then eases you down at the end. It's a real leg burner but then that's what a speed workout is suppose to be. You set your speed so you can last 20 minutes.

  • 00:00 - 05:00 - Gentle 5 minute warm up and at easy speed for you
  • 05:00 - 06:00 - Above average speed
  • 06:00 - 07:00 - Normal
  • 07:00 - 08:00 - Above average
  • 08:00 - 09:00 - Normal
  • 09:00 - 10:00 - Fast
  • 10:00 - 11:00 - Normal
  • 11:00 - 12:00 - Max
  • 12:00 - 13:00 - Normal
  • 13:00 - 14:00 - Max
  • 14:00 - 15:00 - Normal
  • 15:00 - 16:00 - Max
  • 16:00 - 17:00 - Normal
  • 17:00 - 18:00 - Fast
  • 18:00 - 19:00 - Normal
  • 19:00 - 20:00 - Fast
  • 20:00 - 21:00 - Normal
  • 21:00 - 22:00 - Above average
  • 22:00 - 23:00 - Normal
  • 23:00 - 24:00 - Above average
  • 24:00 - 25:00 - Normal
  • 25:00 - 30:00 - Gentle 5 minute cool down at an easy speed
Treadmill Running

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Tempo

Tempo workouts are different from fartlek because the faster run is slower. You need to find your tempo running speed and then that's the speed you run at for a given amount of time. You would then do a slower jog in order to recover from your faster run. Your tempo run should not leave you exhausted.

Your fast run will take you into your anaerobic threshold. This is why it can enable you to run your normal distance quicker than you could before. The pace of your tempo runs should make you out of breath but not so you can't even speak a word. You should be able to say a short sentence. If you have a heart rate monitor it's 80% to 90% of your maximum heart rate.

Treadmill speed workout #5 (tempo)

This first one I'm going to advise you run as a proportion of your 5k race pace. At 3 miles it's very slightly shorter than 5k. Whatever speed you choose make sure you're finding it tough to do the quicker runs and easier to do the slower runs. Also make sure you can cover the 3 miles, it may take some practise to find the best speed.

  • 5 minute warm up (slow jog or brisk walk)
  • 0.5 mile - 45 seconds faster than 5k race pace
  • 0.5 mile - 1 minute slower
  • 0.5 mile - 1 minute faster
  • 0.5 mile - 45 seconds slower
  • 0.5 mile - 45 seconds faster
  • 0.5 mile - 1 minute slower
  • 5 minute cool down, get slower and let those muscles relax

Treadmill speed workout #6 (tempo)

This one is about your 10k race pace. It's a bit longer than the previous one and is still a challenge. I recommend doing these no more often than once per week. I'll try and get some variety in this one. Make sure you can last the whole distance and know that after a fast run you'll have a nice easy one.

  • 10 minute warm up (slow jog or brisk walk)
  • 1 mile - 2 minutes faster than 10k race pace
  • 1 mile - 1 minute slower
  • 1.5 miles - 1 minute faster
  • 0.5 mile - 2 minutes slower
  • 0.5 mile - 1.5 minutes faster
  • 0.5 mile - 1 minute slower
  • 10 minute cool down, get slower and let those muscles relax

Treadmill speed workout #7 (tempo)

This workout is also about the 10k race pace. It's 6 miles long so it's nearly a 10k. But we'll be running slower mostly, with running faster and speed work in between. I'll also lengthen some of the runs compared to workout number 5. Tempo workouts can be quite repetitive but just as hard as the others.

  • 10 minute warm up (slow jog or brisk walk)
  • 1 mile - 2 minutes faster than 10k race pace
  • 1 mile - 2 minutes slower
  • 2 miles - 1 minute faster
  • 1 mile - 1.5 minutes slower
  • 0.5 mile - 1 minute faster
  • 0.5 mile - 1 minute slower
  • 10 minute cool down, get slower and let those muscles relax

Treadmill speed workout #8 (tempo)

This one is about your half marathon pace. The length of this one will have increased a lot compared to the other tempo workouts. You'll keep track of the distance on the console of the treadmill. This will be 9 miles so you've got a long and tough run here. Only do this if you're training for a long distance run or race.

  • 10 minute warm up (slow jog or brisk walk)
  • 2 miles - 2 minutes faster than half marathon race pace
  • 1 mile - 2 minutes slower
  • 2 miles - 1.5 minutes faster
  • 1 mile - 1.5 minutes slower
  • 0.5 mile - 3 minutes faster
  • 1.5 miles - 2 minutes slower
  • 1 mile - 2 minute faster
  • 10 minute cool down, get slower and let those muscles relax
Treadmill Running

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Interval

Intervals are our last speed work category and they differ from fartlek's and tempo's. Interval is still speed work so there is that element in there. The difference is that intervals really push you to the limit where speed goes. When you do your fast run you run nearly flat out but controlled and your rest afterwards is an easy jog.

Intervals are the classic speed training staple and will improve your normal run times. This can be undertaken by even those runners who like long distances to get a speed boost. Everyone can benefit and the treadmill is again the perfect running companion for this workout. Here I have some interval workouts for you to try:

Treadmill speed workout #9 (interval)

My first routine is the pyramid. These are hard and interval workouts are. They're like high intensity interval training (HIIT) and so sprinting will be a theme here. In this first workout it will be about time spent doing the run rather than distance. Think about lasting without needing to stop before completion. So crank that speed up and let's get started.

  • 5 minute warm up with a slow jog
  • 30 seconds fast run then 45 seconds jog
  • 1 minute fast run then 1 minute jog
  • 2 minutes fast run then 1.5 minutes jog
  • 2 minutes fast run then 1 minute jog
  • 2.5 minutes fast run then 1.5 minutes recovery slow jog
  • 2 minutes fast run then 1 minute jog
  • 2 minutes fast run then 1.5 minutes jog
  • 1 minute fast run then 1 minute jog
  • 30 seconds fast run then 45 seconds jog
  • 5 minute cool down with a slow jog then rest

Treadmill speed workout #10 (interval)

This one is what I see a lot of runners do on treadmills in the gym. They do a sprint and then hop on the each side of the deck while the belt still turns. This saves slowing the speed which can be very delayed on a treadmill. Take care with this one and only attempt it if you're very confident on the treadmill. I take no responsibility for any injuries.

  • 5 minute warm up with a slow jog
  • 30 seconds sprint then step on each side of the deck so you've stopped for 30 seconds
  • 30 seconds sprint then stop for 30
  • 45 seconds sprint then stop for 30
  • 45 seconds sprint then stop for 30
  • 30 seconds maximum all out then stop for 45
  • 30 seconds maximum all out then stop for 45
  • 45 seconds sprint then stop for 30
  • 45 seconds sprint then stop for 30
  • 30 seconds sprint then stop for 30
  • 30 seconds sprint then stop for 30
  • 5 minute cool down with a slow jog then rest

Treadmill speed workout #11 (interval)

Instead of sprinting on this one, I'll go with your 5k race pace. This is longer than a 5k so you'll still find it difficult and it's still considered speed work. Use this as part of a distance training routine like you're building up to a race. I've used this one before and I like it. This will make your normal runs quicker and really build endurance.

  • 10 minute warm up with a slow jog
  • 1 mile at 5k race pace then 1 minute easy jog
  • 1 mile at fast 5k race pace then 1 minute easy jog
  • 1 mile at 5k race pace then 1 minute easy jog
  • 1 mile at fast 5k race pace then 1.5 minutes easy jog
  • 1 mile at 5k race pace then 1 minute easy jog
  • 10 minute cool down with a slow jog, slowing to a walk, then rest

Treadmill speed workout #12 (interval)

This one is going to use the incline. This is unusual for an interval workout but it can work. As long as we do a fast run and an easy jog or even brisk walk between them. This one is tough on the leg muscles but you should find it quite enjoyable and a welcome change. It's a hard one but the inclines won't be too steep otherwise you could get over use injuries.

  • 0% incline 10 minute warm up with a slow jog
  • 1% incline fast run for 1 minute then a 1 minute easy jog
  • 2% incline run for 1 minute then a 1 minute easy jog
  • 2% incline run for 1 minute then a 1 minute easy jog
  • 3% incline jogging for 0.5 minute then a 1.5 minutes easy jog
  • 2% incline fast run for 1 minute then a 1 minute easy jog
  • 3% incline jogging for 0.5 minute then a 1.5 minutes easy jog
  • 2% incline run for 1 minute then a 1 minute easy jog
  • 2% incline run for 1 minute then a 1 minute easy jog
  • 1% incline fast run for 1 minute then a 1 minute easy jog
  • 0% incline 10 minute cool down with a slow jog, slowing to a walk
Treadmill Running

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Conclusion

There you have 12 speed workouts available to you. The treadmill helps you do all of these in a very controlled way. There is no estimation or looking at your watch to see when the next speed change happens. Speed training really is essential to try if you're determined to run that little bit quicker than you normally can.

Remember to keep an eye on the treadmill console so you know when the next change to the incline or speed occurs. It might be an idea to write down the workout you're planning to do. Then you won't need to guess. Vary your routines and as I've said before, don't do any of these more often than once per week.

You'll notice a slight variation in them all, with definite patterns when you look at the type of speed training. You might find one type you prefer doing. If you want to run quicker and improve your distance and race times then speed work will do just that. You'll build up those legs and burn a lot of calories plus you'll enjoy it.

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Meet The Author

Simon Gould

I'm Simon Gould. I've been around treadmills my whole life. From running on them at an early age to working in treadmill dept's of national stores. I've run outside and I've run on treadmills and I prefer running on treadmills. I still run on one nearly every day and love it.

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