Advice for first ever tempo run on treadmill? (Read 194 times)


The Irreverent Reverend

    Tomorrow I'll be doing my tempo run on my treadmill (sick kid, school canceled due to a foot of snow falling, indoor track closed at least until 10am if not all day - I can't get out for my run). This will be the first time that I'm doing something other than a long or an easy run on the treadmill. I've gone long before (longest is 11 miles this year, 13 miles last year), but I've never tried anything that resembles speed work before.


    As part of the Hansons Marathon Method I've been doing tempos (which for HMM is goal pace) every Wednesday for several weeks. I've done these almost exclusively on a 1/8 mile track, and I've run the tempos at approx. 7:45ish pace for the tempo portion of the run. My "goal pace" is 8:00 for a 3:30 marathon. But, I've always struggled to match my track or outdoor pace on the treadmill - even my "easy" pace. 8:30 outside feels easy. 8:30 on the treadmill feels like a sprint.


    So do I just put in the miles and not worry about the pace? Do I shift tomorrow's tempo run to Thursday, hoping I can get to the indoor track then? Or, do I get on the damn mill and (try to) crank this out? Advice?


    Thanks, all!

    Husband. Father of three. Lutheran pastor. National Guardsman. Runner. Political junkie. Baseball fan.

      First, it sounds like you have a mental hurdle to overcome if an outside easy pace feels like a sprint indoors. Don't stress just because you have a "hard" day on the Treadmill.  It really isn't that bad. Consider the benefit of being able to control the speed.


      Second, as with all true tempo efforts, it's not so much about the pace as it is the effort. This is doublly true on the treadmill because the speed is likely not accurate.  Start out for a couple miles at at easy pace until you're warmed up. Do a few 20sec pick ups to see how you feel running at a faster pace (faster than what you think your tempo pace will be). Then, over the course of the next 1/2 to 1 mile start inching up the speed a little bit each 0.1 miles or so.  Stop at a speed that is in that "comfortably hard" zone.. or a pace you think you can hold with a little discomfort for the tempo distance you're suppose to run.  Then, save a couple miles for a cool down.


      Good luck!


        I don't have any advice other than just do. On a good treadmill I find tempo pace significantly easier than outside. It's just mentally easier to "set it and forget it" than outside where I have a tendency to push too hard early in a tempo run or cruise intervals, which always makes the latter part of the workout way tougher than it should be. On a tempo or cruise intervals on the treadmill I always finish feeling pretty fresh. And when I say tempo I am usually talking about 15k to half marathon pace, so I'm sure marathon pace would feel really easy on the 'mill. I haven't had to find out yet.


        I say "good treadmill" because the difference between a good treadmill and a bad one cannot be overstated. And it's not just the machine itself--the space, how much air flow, etc. it all makes a difference in perceived effort.

        Runners run

          A tempo on a treadmill feels very different than on the road, more difficult while actually on the TM than running the same pace on the road, but easier to recover (not as sore), if that makes sense.


          Yesterday's MP run for 4 miles started at 9:20 pace, worked down to 8:30 or so.  The pace felt like I'll be spit out the back off the treadmill if I go any faster.  On the road I am always sure I can find another gear if needed.  Just afraid to set that on the treadmill and run, I have finished workouts with  90-95 second 400 m (my one mile race pace), but will not dare go to 10 MPH on the treadmill even for 30 sec, could be just a mental block as well.


          I think that I need a faster turnover on the TM (shorter stride) hence the higher perceived effort, but the reduced impact may be reducing the recovery needed.

            For me the biggest thing with the treadmill tempo is the first 5 mins or so.  Get through those get your body\legs locked in and I find it gets easier the longer you go (to a point obviously)  So if it feels fast to start just gut it out those first few minutes knowing it will feel better soon.


            Also get a fan, a big one.


            The Irreverent Reverend

              Thanks, all, for the advice. I ended up not running at all this morning ... kid was up several times last night puking. She's feeling better now, so I might hop on the treadmill for an easy run (or maybe the tempo run) and then hit the track tomorrow.


              I have a fan, my treadmill is positioned in the middle of a medium-sized room, and I've got a loud bluetooth speaker .... so I think I've made the best of my treadmill situation. I think my problem is partly with my stride, and partly in my head. Or mostly in my head.


              I'm tired of the snow and ice, and would just like to get outside ... but for the most part that will only do for long and easy runs, and not even then half the time. The surface conditions are pretty crappy right now, and I ain't going out there for any speed work.

              Husband. Father of three. Lutheran pastor. National Guardsman. Runner. Political junkie. Baseball fan.


              not bad for mile 25

                I don't use the treadmill often - this morning was the second time this year - but after a good warmup at easy pace, I did pseudo intervals, and they were kind of fun.  I contemplated the TM's "Instant Speed" 12mph and "Instant Slope" 15% buttons, but did not touch them!

                  I did my LT intervals on the TM last and it really wasn't that bad with the fan blowing.  My TM's pace reading is way off, but I went by what the garmin foot pod was saying and heart rate confirmed that it was close.  I'll bet your TM just reads slow like mine.



                  PRs:  5k - (20:42) 3/9/2013 18:55 (9/28/13)

                             10k - (42:42) 3/23/2013 39:11 (10/26/13) course was short @ 6.0 mi :)

                             10 mi - (1:12:10) 4/6/2013

                             HM - (1:34:38) 4/27/2013


                  The Irreverent Reverend

                    Thanks, all. I have no idea if the thing is calibrated correctly - I have no reason to think it isn't, except for the fact that I find fast paces much easier to hit on the road than on the treadmill, but that could just be my head playing games with me.


                    Anyway, I went ahead and did the tempo run on the treadmill.


                    1.5 mile warm-up (varied pace somewhere around 8:40)

                    8.0 miles at tempo (marathon goal pace - 8:00/7.5mph for 4 miles, 7:56/7.6mph for 4 miles)

                    .5 mile cool-down (pace just shy of 9:00) (usually do a longer cool-down, but I wanted to get off this thing so bad ...)


                    Total run: 10 miles, 81:30


                    It is slower than my other previous tempo runs, but it was harder, especially mentally (physically I feel fine now, 10 minutes after the end of the run).


                    Again, thanks for the advice, guys. Really appreciate it.

                    Husband. Father of three. Lutheran pastor. National Guardsman. Runner. Political junkie. Baseball fan.

                    Feeling the growl again

                      Do you have a fan(s) set up?  My big issue with workouts on the treadmill is overheating.  But that seems to be a bigger issue for me than most.


                      Don't sweat any difference in pace.  I've had 3 treadmills since 2007 and I could tell the difference in calibration in each -- and every one would say it was calibrated fine.  My last one I determined by measuring the belt and counting RPM was spot on until speed exceeded 9mph, at which point it got progressively further off.


                      So just get the work in and you'll get the gains.

                      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


                      I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills



                        I am a treadmill workout believer. I have to be, living on curvy back roads in cold and snow country. Like mikeymike, I like the idea of setting it and forgetting it, but I also like to push it on some runs. On roads, I tend to find my fartleks don't last as long as I had hoped, and my pace drops before I reach my goal. On the treadmill, I have to keep up. So I do progressive runs, I guess similar to what BoilerTom said, where I inch up the pace every lap or so until I get to a comfortably hard pace and run that for a while. That pace is generally near the end of my run. I also do what I term "push runs," usually about 4-6 miles. I start at 7 mph, bring up the pace fairly quickly over the first half mile or so, then inch it up (.2 or .3 mph) about every lap, until I'm at around 9 mph or so. For the rest of the run, I inch it up a little slower, hitting 10 on the final lap. I'm no trainer or anything, but I just thought the fact that I was finishing as hard as I could would help my race finishes.

                        Also with the treadmill, your incline setting has a lot to do with your perceived effort. I usually use 1.5%. Like others, and yourself, I think, I find the TM workouts tougher than outdoor running for the same result.

                        Good luck with your training.

                        "No man can ever know all he needs until he first knows himself."---- James Steele


                        5K - 20:39.   4-mile - 28:15.    5-mile - 35:36.     10k - 44:51.   HM - 1:38:23.  FM: 3:36:25