Beginners Treadmill Running Mistakes To Avoid

beginners treadmill running

Brian A Jackson/

By Simon Gould

You’ve bought a treadmill or purchased a gym membership and it’s there sitting in front of you. You may have even had a few goes and your itching for more. Running on a treadmill is easy. After all you just put one foot in front of the other like you’re running outside. How hard can it be?

Unfortunately there are many mistakes you can make running on a treadmill. These mistakes I sometimes see experienced treadmill runners make. If you’re going to take exercising seriously then it’s important not to make these mistakes. This is especially important for a beginner so you can start your running career well

1 – Not doing a warm up or cool down

Before we even get to the actual exercising part and why you want to run in the fist place. You need to warm up your muscles. A beginner really needs to do this. If you’ve only just started using the treadmill then your muscles will not be used to the effort you’re about to put in. You need to prevent any injuries occurring from cold muscles and that is what warming up is for.

A warm up can be slow walking, slow running or anything that isn’t part of your main workout. The idea is to get your muscles building up to the work you’re about to give them. Do something of a lesser intensity than your main workout. Don’t use the incline for now for a warm up just leave it level and get moving.

A cool down is equally important. If you’ve ever felt dizzy when getting off the treadmill then the reason can be a lack of a cool down. Stopping exercise immediately causes a drop in the blood circulation and a sensible cool down will help prevent this. Again, it doesn’t need to be anything grand just a lesser workout that you were doing. Your body will thank you.

2 – Holding onto the hand rails

This may be a natural thing to do for a beginner. You may feel that you could fall off or you need to keep yourself steady. Don’t do it. It causes your running gait to be incorrect. You won’t be running in a natural way if you do this. You need the arm swinging motion that you naturally have when you walk or run.

You’re not going to fall off and you’ll be quite stable. Including this is holding on to the heart rate sensors. Treadmill heart rate sensors are often inaccurate anyway. The information is sketchy at best and not worth using as you exercise. Trust yourself to run, and be confident that you don’t need to hold onto anything as you go.

3 – Not using the whole belt

This is one thing that even experienced runners do. People will run toward the front or the back of the running surface. Not only is this dangerous as you might fall off, but you lose some of the advantages of using a treadmill in the first place. That is the lovely cushioning belt your feet land on. There is less of it at the ends.

The belt has been designed so that your feet land and push off from around the middle. At the ends the metal rollers do their work to keep the running surface moving. You can be confident that you can make a full stride because the running surface has been designed for that purpose. It’s good to get this mistake corrected as a beginner so you can use the treadmill at it’s best when ever you exercise.

4 – Running too fast or using too much incline

This is a common error among beginners especially when running in front of others, for example, in a gym. You feel like you need to run quickly because that’s what experienced runners do. You don’t want to look out of place in the gym. You may even think that the proper pace to run feels slow. Don’t worry about either.

The pace to run at, to lose weight and improve fitness, is slower than you think. To get the benefits of running you need to run for around 20 to 60 minutes. The speed to run for this amount of time is at your aerobic zone. You can do this if the treadmill isn’t going too fast so you’ll get the most benefit out of it.

This is the case for inclines as well. Firstly a steep incline is unnatural to run at for any length of time. Also it’s not good for the achilles to have a constant stress against it by striding uphill. Instead of using an incline try going a bit faster and do that whether you’re walking or running.

5 – Not keeping your posture upright and then looking down

Walking and running are an upright activity. For thousands of years we’ve learned to walk and run upright and we still need to do it today. This is important for beginners and anyone running on a treadmill. You need to replicate your running action as though you are naturally running outside for the best posture.

Looking down is the classic beginners treadmill running mistake. This is especially so if you feel you’ve taken a long stride or you may be close to the edge. In time you’ll get used to running on a treadmill and your confidence will increase. Just try not to look down when you don’t need to. Keep your head held high and your posture will be upright.

6 – Not wearing proper running shoes

You’ve bought the treadmill or joined that expensive gym and here we are suggesting you need to spend more. Proper running shoes are a worthwhile investment. Even though you’re running indoors you still need running shoes. That goes with walking as well you still need proper running shoes.

Running shoes are designed with exercising in mind. They have their own cushioning and support points in all the right places to help you go. They also help provide a further aid in avoiding injuries. If you’re not sure which are suitable for you then there are good websites that can guide you in choosing the best running shoe type for you.

7 – Not varying your routine

Vary your running routine. This is the same if you only walk too. You need to try different routines to get the most out of your workouts. Whether it’s health, fitness or weight loss varying your routine carries benefits. It will enhance your performance meaning you will be able to burn more calories in the same amount of time.

Even if it’s just to help keep things novel and prevent boredom setting in on your exercising it’s a good thing to do. Running or walking the same amount day in day out is a recipe for disaster. Try challenging yourself by running a bit further or faster. Keep the changes to a minimum and you’ll soon become better at what you were doing before.

8 – Not using the safety cord

This attaches you to the treadmill safety key. This is essential to prevent any accident and injuries occurring by you falling off the treadmill. It’s not just beginners who don’t use it, a lot of experienced runners tend to leave the safety key unconnected. A fast moving belt can cause painful friction burns if the worst would happen.


That’s it, 8 beginners treadmill running mistakes to avoid. Stick to this and you’ll get the most out of your treadmill efforts. By following these guidelines you’ll burn more calories and get healthier. You’ll be less likely to get injured, as that’s what most of the mistakes I’ve mentioned can cause. See this as a reminder of the best practices around using a treadmill.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.

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