4 Interval Treadmill Workouts (Effective Speed Training)

Treadmill Running

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By Simon Gould

Interval routines really exercise the cardiovascular system. The heart gets a great workout because you're going into your anaerobic threshold. The bursts of speed are sprints. Interval training is commonly done round a track where the athlete would sprint for 400 meters followed by an easy jog. However we can still benefit from the treadmill here.

Instead of running for 400 meters, as we're on a treadmill we're going to use time spent sprinting. Make sure the sprint is slightly less than max and that your easy jog is really easy. In one of the workouts I've specified a 1 minute sprint. Then run fast enough to be able to accomplish that speed for a minute. This is the idea behind all the sprint parts of the workouts.

Your sprint will make you breathe very heavily and it's meant to. Practise first to know what your maximum speed is, then you can easily go to it when the workout requires. Take it very easy if you're new to interval training, it's very high intensity. The first few times you do it, it may be worth having someone there to keep an eye on you. Use the safety cord for these.

Interval workout #1

This is the pyramid routine as an interval training session. We slowly increase the intensity and then bring it back down. This one is a hard one especially because we'll have you running fast for some time. As long as you know your speed this session is doable. This is around 30 minutes and will really get those legs going:

  • 5 minute easy warm up
  • 30 seconds sprint then 30 seconds easy
  • 1 minute sprint then 1 minute easy
  • 2 minutes sprint then 2 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes sprint then 3 minutes easy
  • 2 minutes sprint then 2 minutes easy
  • 1 minute sprint then 1 minute easy
  • 30 seconds sprint then 30 seconds easy
  • 5 minute easy cool down

Interval workout #2

On this one we'll be using your 5k race pace instead of sprinting. This should still be a hard run. The easy jog is in between. You'll be running at race pace for longer than you normally run 5k but then you've got easy jogs so you will recover. The last 2 miles should be a killer:

  • 5 minute easy warm up
  • 2 miles at 5k pace then 2 minutes jog
  • 1 mile at 5k pace then 2 minutes jog
  • 2 miles at 5k pace then 2 minutes jog
  • 5 minute easy run cool down

Interval workout #3

For this workout we're going to get truly sprinting to get you in the anaerobic phase. This is where muscle breakdown occurs so they grow bigger through rest. We'll be having a longer recovery between each sprint because you'll need it. The total workout should take around 30 minutes including the warm up and cool down:

  • 5 minute easy warm up
  • 1 minute sprint then 2 minutes recover
  • 1.5 minutes sprint then 3 minutes recover
  • 1 minute sprint then 2 minutes recover
  • 45 seconds minute sprint then 2 minutes recover
  • 1 minute sprint then 2 minutes recover
  • 5 minute easy cool down

Interval workout #4

This one is for the longer distance runners. If you're training for a long race then this workout is for you. This will get your speed up. We're introducing a 10k pace and 5k pace with miles running instead of time. This will be longer than a 20 minute interval so we'll extend the warm up and cool down:

  • 10 minute easy warm up
  • 3 miles at 10k pace then 2 minutes jog
  • 2 miles at 5k pace then 2 minutes jog
  • 3 miles at 10k pace then 3 minutes jog
  • 1 mile at 5k pace then 2 minutes jog
  • 10 minute easy run cool down

Benefits of interval training

A version of this is called high intensity interval training which has become very popular in recent years. It's essentially the same thing and has been around in one form or another for many years. The main benefit is you'll be able to run quicker and for longer when you do your regular training routine. You'll be able to run quicker in races after speed training.

You get a bigger workout in a shorter period of time. If I'm busy and I'm due a workout on a particular day, I'll consider an interval routine. As it's a strenuous workout, it will improve your athletic performance. Your regular workouts will feel easier as a result. I recommend limiting them to one per week as they're so hard on the body.

Using a treadmill for interval training is not unusual, you'll get used to sprinting on one, it may take some practice at first to build your confidence. Interval training builds your aerobic capacity in a measurable way (source). They're very motivating especially when you start running quicker and your times improve. They also happen to burn a lot of calories if you're trying to lose weight.

Conclusion

Interval speed work is the hardest of them all. You often see people do interval workouts on treadmills in gyms. You see them just once a week and they are the ones who run the fastest. Interval training used to be done by elite athletes, now everyone is realizing the benefits you can get from them. The sprint and recovery workouts are replicated in a lot of training routines for many sports.

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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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