Three Treadmill Workouts to Outsmart Old Man Winter

A Snowman in Winter

If you are like most runners, the cool crisp winter air is a welcomed break from the triple digits we suffered in over the summer. And, not only do we feel better, but cooler temperatures enhance run performance since it’s physiologically easier to run when the body doesn’t have to work hard to maintain its core temperature. But when it comes to running, winter isn’t all a bed of roses. The shorter days, frigid temps and Jack Frost’s ice-covered roads – all wreak havoc on our training schedules and outdoor runs. Luckily these treadmill workouts will let you train indoors.

When faced with the dilemma of bundling up for a cold, dark run, consider hitting the treadmill where you have full control of climate, visibility and terrain specifics. Plus, it’s safe at any time of the day or night. 

Let’s adjust our mindset from the dreadmill to the treadmill — an effective running tool in your performance arsenal. Here are three key treadmill workouts to ward off boredom, serve as effective and time-efficient use of your time, and reinforce good run form. 

Treadmill Pre-Warm Up (6 to 12 minutes)

If you happen to have a little extra time, here’s a pre-warm-up before any run to help reinforce the proper form. Here’s a quick review of the good run form: forward lean from the ankles, head in line with shoulders, gaze down just ahead of the body to keep proper body position, arm swing two thirds behind the body to activate posterior chain and efficient foot turnover.

•2 to 3 x 5 minutes; very easy walk at 10 to 15 percent incline (1 minute at 1 percent incline rest interval or RI). The focus is on form and activating glutes. Pace should be very easy. Think- 3 mph or slower.

Treadmill Workout #1

Hill Repeats (60 minutes total)


•10 min easy jogging from Zone 1-2 — allow plenty of time for the body to loosen. 

Pre-Set: (12 minutes)

•4 x 2 min @1% incline – build speed by 30 sec. (For example, if starting at 7.0, every 30-sec increase to 7.1, 7.2, 7.3.)

(1 min very easy RI) 

Main-Set: (31 min)

Part I: Hills-strength: (21 min) 

•6 x 2 min (90 sec RI) starting @ 3% incline and increase incline 0.5% every 30 sec. Hold pace at mid-Zone 3 effort – Moderate half-marathon effort – not harder!

•(90 sec very easy RI – can walk or straddle treadmill during rest interval)

Part II: Intensity: (10 min)

•Bring incline to 0.5-1%

•5 x 1 min (1 min RI) at Zone 4 (10K effort) – incline @ 0.5-1%

Cool-Down: (7 min)

•5 min very easy jogging with the final 2-3 min walking.

Incline running reinforces form, maximizes muscle recruitment and neurological development, prevents over-striding, allows for greater drive and extension and translates to good form on flatter terrain.

Treadmill Workout #2

Shorter Intervals (56-72 min total)


•10 min easy jogging from Zone 1-2

Pre-Set: (11min)

•3 x 2 min (1min RI) starting at 2% incline and increase 0.5% incline every 30 sec, holding effort steady. 

2 min easy jogging

Main-Set: (24-40min)

•6-10 x 3 min (1min RI) at 1% incline and at goal race pace. Hold steady.

If you are just starting out with these, begin with six intervals and build to ten, then fifteen if you are training for endurance (marathon) event. The first ones might not feel challenging but about halfway through, fatigue will start to settle in – hold your form. 


•5 min easy with the final 2-3 min walking.

Treadmill Workout #3: 

Longer run with extended Tempo (90min total)


•10 min easy jogging from Zone 1-2

Pre-Set: (10 min)

•5 x 1 min (1 min RI) increase pace by 20 sec with end goal faster than your goal distance effort.  Focus on foot turnover and good form, posture.

Main-Set for the time-starved athlete: (36-42 min)

•3 x 10-12 min @ goal race effort (2-3 min RI) 

Main Set for the time-rich athlete: (60 min)

•10 min (2 min RI) hold steady at goal race effort

•12 min (2 min RI) hold steady at goal race effort

•14 min (2 min RI) hold steady at goal race effort

•16 min (2 min RI) hold steady at goal race effort

Do not start out too fast, the longer the intervals the tougher this becomes. Pace wisely. 


•10 min easy with the final 2-3 min walking.

What about walking? 

Let’s talk about walking. Despite popular belief, walking is not a sign of weakness. Walking is your friend and it’s downright smart.  The benefits of short (20 to 30 second) intentional walk break are:

1. Reset form.

2. Unload fatigue.

3. Manage your heart rate in the heat.

4. Adequately consume liquids.

Use walk breaks when fatigue sets in or your form begins to deteriorate. This sets you up to finish the workout or race strong.

Treadmill Workout Tips

• Set your treadmill at 0.5% to 1% grade for all runs except for hill workouts to simulate outdoor running.

• Bring water or electrolyte drink with you during the run. Shoot for 20-30oz per hour. Plan according to run duration and your sweat rate. 

• Keep a towel within reach to wipe off sweat.

• When time-crunched avoid cutting out all of the warm-up or cool-down. 

• Feel free to straddle your feet on the outer sides of the treadmill to consume fluids or take a brief breather.

• After the warmup, include dynamic stretches especially if feeling tight then resume the pre-set.

• Avoid raising incline above a 6% grade in hill workouts since it’s tough to maintain effective run form on steeper inclines.  

•  Walk for a few minutes before you get off the treadmill to allow your heart rate to return to normal.

• Your rest interval or RI can be easy jogging, walking or straddling the treadmill 

Efforts as defined by zones.

• Zone 1 – very Easy effort;

• Zone 2 – aerobic, steady-state effort;

• Zone 3 – moderate effort such as 13.1 distance;

• Zone 4 – moderate strong effort (10K);

• Zone 5 – strong effort – 5k or shorter

Put these treadmill workouts to work this winter and let us know how it goes.

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