Treadmill Training for a marathon

Why are so many people quick to put down or explain why they can’t stand running on a treadmill? I have a few friends who claim they will never run on a treadmill.  They claim that when they’re running on the road or in nature, they enjoy being able to take in all the sights and sounds. They also like the camaraderie of a group run that they can’t get with treadmill. I understand these arguments, but I believe that running on treadmill 1-2 times per week is a viable means to supplement your training for any race, even a ½ or full marathon.  The question is how to best incorporate use of a treadmill into a marathon training plan?  The good news is that Derek LaLonde answers this question and others in his book, “How Not To Hate The Treadmill.”

I recently read Derek’s book and was very impressed with his level of detail into such topics as goal setting, treadmill workouts, smart eating and how to get positive results using a treadmill.  This book is one of the most comprehensive resources about Treadmills and Treadmill training. The purpose of the book isn’t to convince you to abandon the roads.  Instead, implementing Derek’s suggestions will definitely give any runner a fresh perspective on using a treadmill and integrating this often maligned piece of exercise equipment into their training plan.

As a busy middle aged professional, who travels weekly, I use a treadmill a few times per week in hotel gyms or on days when the Pacific Northwest weather turns wet, cold and is generally unsuitable for outdoor running. Typically, my sessions last 35-45 minutes. I run at a progressively faster pace (6 – 8+) with a steady incline to 2-3 degrees. I like to add 15-20 minutes of conditioning exercises to complete a full hour workout.  There’s nothing exciting about what I do on a treadmill.  My goal is to simply get in an easy day and avoid taking the day off from running.  I have never used the treadmill to complete any kind of speed or tempo runs.

How Not To Hate The Treadmill

“How Not To Hate The Treadmill” is far more than a listing of treadmill workouts.  In fact, Derek doesn’t get into details about any workouts until page 100.  Instead he devotes the first three sections of the book to the benefits of using a treadmill, getting motivated, setting goals and creating a positive environment.  He describes one of the best things about using treadmill is that it can force you to maintain a certain speed. During tempo or harder lactate training workouts, a treadmill can be set so a runner maintains a target heart rate for prolonged periods. The runner can then focus on breathing and good form without having to continually check heart rate. Also, the runner can use the incline feature to increase one’s heart rate without having to speed up.

Treadmill Workouts

The workout portion of the book is very detailed.  Each workout is customized to be performed on the treadmill.  Examples of some of the workouts discussed include:

  1. HillsAlthough not appropriate for those who don’t own their treadmill, Derek discusses how to complete downhill training (very important when training for races like Boston). Details of 6 different hill workouts are provided.  My favorite is “Walk the Plank Incline to Exhaustion.”
  2. Speed Work – Tempo runs and speed ladders are discussed. You can go all out with the Stairway to Heaven workout where you continue to raise the pace by 5 mph every ½ mile until exhaustion
  3. Long Runs, Aerobic workouts & Running Games – If you really want a tough full body workout, try running at tempo pace and get off the treadmill every 5 minutes to complete a set of push-ups, dumbbell squats, pull-ups and other conditioning exercises.

Derek finishes the book with a few sections on how to balance proper nutrition, sleep and staying motivated to train.  Finally he gets into great detail about how to properly train using a heart rate monitor.  This includes a plan on how to determine your maximum heart rate using a treadmill.

It’s clear that Derek LaLonde is not just very knowledgeable about treadmills, but he’s also well informed about long distance running and proper training methods.  He’s been training on a treadmills for 15+ years and clearly enjoys the experience of “pounding the rubber.”

If you’re interested in diversifying your training (something I strongly advise to help avoid injury), then I recommend you purchase, read and implement the strategies discussed in How Not To Hate The TreadmillThe book is available as a downloadable e-book.  It’s an easy read.  The worksheets are helpful to set goals and the heart rate charts can be printed out for easy reference.  I’m always open for new and effective marathon training ideas. How Not To Hate The Treadmill, provides fresh concepts that will help any runner vary their workouts and achieve their goals.

For your convenience, I have included a link to purchase How Not To Hate The TreadmillYou will also notice in the sidebar that there’s a banner ad for this book.  Full disclosure…your cost won’t increase in any way if you buy by going through these links,  but I will be compensated if you do make a purchase through them.


If you’re really interested in something different and unique you really need to try Run Chicago, Run Boston or Run New York.  These are 1-2 hour videos taken directly off the courses of each of these world famous marathons.  The concept is simple.  Download the video onto your iPad, tablet or laptop and then place it in front of the treadmill.  Set the treadmill to whatever pace you desire and then play the video.  It’s genius.

I’ll admit, I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of the videos yet, but I do have plans to fully try out at least the Chicago and Boston videos because I’ve run both of those marathons.

Following are some screen shots of each product.  You can click on each image to be brought to the purchase page.

         Treadflix Run Chicago Video  Treadflix Run New York Video