Using A Treadmill To Improve Your Running Speed
By Simon Gould
Once you’ve been running a while you may want to get faster. Maybe you’ve entered some races and you want to better your time. Whatever sport you do a higher speed is often an advantage. There are specific training methods that will help make you faster. A treadmill is ideal for this, you may feel outside your comfort zone but some treadmill workouts are proven to work.
Yes, a treadmill can make you faster
There are unique benefits a treadmill has over running outside. The console is a wealth of information that is vital to help you get quicker. You are shown the distance and speed amongst other stats. These two are your best friends when it comes to workouts that get you running faster. I’ll give you some particular treadmill workouts below.
Speed is what this is all about so you need a treadmill that can go fast. Most motorized treadmills come in at a maximum of 12 mph. That works out as a 5 minute mile or a 100 meters in 18 seconds. This should be enough for most people. However, if you need something quicker, there is a treadmill available now that can go even faster. These are curved treadmills.
Curved treadmills are so called because of their curved shaped deck. The deck is not powered and it is the shape that helps you run at any speed. This makes it ideal to help increase your running speed. One athlete was recorded going at 24 mph on one. They couldn’t run this fast for very long but it gives you an idea of the potential.
Speed training is the secret
Some runners will be familiar with the term “speed work” or “speed training”. But it involves a type of workout where speed is the dominant factor. You will run quicker than you normally do in brief intervals and this makes it easier to run faster. It has been known for many years that speed drills help increase your maximum speed.
There are quite a few types of speed training and they have various names. They are fartlek, tempo, interval, sprints and high intensity interval training. Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning “speed play” and has been adopted by runners for a certain type of speed workout. They have different names but all incorporate running at speed for a period of time followed by a slower run as a recovery and then repeated.
I would add that unless you’re used to running very short distances at speed, then speed training should be a once per week addition to your routine. It’s very hard on the body and that’s kind of the idea. You want your body to get used to getting faster. As such, adaptations are made in the cardiovascular system and the whole body which occurs when any stress is put upon it.
Consider resistance or weight training to increase speed as well. More muscle mass especially in the legs mean you can propel yourself faster. Speed training on a treadmill will increase your muscle mass too but if you want to maximize your results then weight training will help. Just look at the size of Usain Bolt’s legs and you’ll see what I mean.
On this page below I’ll give you two speed workouts that are sprinting and high intensity interval training. I wouldn’t use an incline, if you want to make it harder then make it quicker. First I’ll link to some treadmill speed workouts I have already devised. These are good to use and give you some variation and an idea of what to do to get faster:
2 treadmill speed training workouts
All speed work will get you faster but the ultimate has to be sprints and interval training. So here is an example of each. Where I have specified a speed, feel free to set a speed more suitable for you. We’re all different and what maybe quick to some, maybe slow to others. The spirit of the workouts are a quick run followed by a slower recovery and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.
1. Sprinting treadmill workout
It’s the sprinting that is the most important part of this workout. Go at a speed you can to complete the routine but feel approaching exhausted at the end. You should feel like you’ve done a good workout. Also, with the recovery run length, take longer if you need to, just make sure those sprints are done and warm up and cool down.
- 5 minute warm up run at 6 mph
- Sprint at 10 mph for 20 seconds
- Recovery run at 7 mph for 40 seconds
- Repeat 6 to 9 times or until exhaustion
- 5 minute cool down run at 6 mph
2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) treadmill workout
This is slightly different to a sprinting workout because you run fast for slightly longer, this is the nature of HIIT. You should feel as though you’ve had an intense workout as with the sprint one. Again the speed and recovery length is up to you and your own natural running speed. Just make sure this is your only workout for the day as it’s meant to be hard.
- 5 minute warm up run at 6 mph
- Fast run at 9 mph for 40 seconds
- Recovery run at 7 mph for 50 seconds
- Repeat 5 to 8 times or until exhaustion
- 5 minute cool down run at 6 mph
After doing one of these workouts you should feel exhilarated. Rather like you do when you’ve done a long run or any other workout that involves pushing yourself to the limit. These are what brings new life to your fitness routine and will give you motivation. This is especially the case when you realize how easy a normal run is when you go at the speed you used to go at.
Experienced runners do speed training
Experienced runners and athletes realize the benefits of speed training. Even though athletes have a track they can use and they can accurately measure the distance, only a treadmill can show you the exact speed. Although I’m referring to athletic runners, athletes in all kinds of sports use treadmills during their normal training routines, they’re often more convenient than running outside.
I haven’t always had my own treadmill and used the services of a gym where you have a line of machines for people to use. I would often see people coming in who would do speed training on a treadmill and then go home. I could tell because of the sprints and then recovery runs and I would know that they’re obviously quite experienced and wanted to do speed work.
Speed drills have been a staple to improve speed for many sports. With a treadmill, a running coach may use many different calculations to figure out what is the best for their athletes. This will include the exact speed needed and for how long to perform the speed for. You can’t measure speed on a running track and that’s why a treadmill is recommended.
Many sports involve running and the higher the speed the better. None more so than running itself. You maybe a slower runner compared to other people, you may have a slow 5k time, but it’s the aim of many to improve your time and is a nice goal to have. Sprinting is an anaerobic activity so it will build muscle. I like speed training because it’s a change to my normal running schedule.
You will see and feel results after a couple of weeks. By the 3rd week your normal speed might feel easier or, if you run outside, your route will be over quicker and you’ll feel that you’re able to run faster. You won’t feel so tired after doing the same exercise at a higher speed. Overall, I recommend giving a treadmill a try if you want to get faster, because it works.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.