Training to run a half marathon is a very exciting time. During your training you will not only be pushing yourself physically but you will also be pushing yourself mentally. Many people who train for the half marathon come out of it tougher than before they went into it. Typically, when you train for a half marathon you will go outside for your runs, but this isn’t always possible. Maybe the weather is bad, or you can’t afford to hire a babysitter for the kids, or you are simply too busy to commit to clearing 2-3 hours in your schedule to go out and train for long runs. Another big reason you might not be able to go outside to train is because of safety reasons, especially during the Winter, when the sun rises late and sets early, reducing your available training time.
That’s where our friend the treadmill comes in very handy.
If you haven’t stepped into a gym recently, you would be surprised at how advanced treadmills have become. With many treadmills, you can mimic the outdoor conditions during the half marathon. Rain splashing in your face is of course optional. For example, if you know you are going to have a headwind when running, you can simply incline the treadmill 1%-2% to provide a bit of resistance. The same is true when you know there might be a few hills, simply incline the treadmill to mimic the hills. Some more advanced treadmills can be programmed to follow a particular incline pattern for your race.
However, some people who train for a half marathon on a treadmill make the mistake of assuming the higher they incline it the better off they will be. This is not always true because the more you incline, the faster you will deplete your muscles. It might make you stronger but it won’t add to the endurance and as you already know, endurance is a big part in finishing a half marathon. As a general rule of thumb, try to keep your incline at 7% or lower when doing longer training sessions on the treadmill.
Since you know the date of the marathon, you should go online and check to see what the predicted temperature will be that day and set the room with the treadmill in it to match the predicted temperate. If you train in the cold and it is hot outside, you will have trouble completing the half marathon.
There three main types of workouts you should do on the treadmill when preparing for a half marathon. The three types of training are:
- Interval Training
- Steady State Training
- Pyramid Training
Make sure you alternate between these three types of training methods. Below we will go into more detail about each method.
This training session is usually the shortest one but it is also one of the hardest. You will alternate between a sprint and a jog, a great example would include sprinting for 1 minute and jogging for 3 minutes. Keep alternating between the sprint and jog for 30-60 minutes. If this is your first time doing this type of training, shoot for about 5 intervals. Once you complete 5 intervals you can start doing more.
Steady State Training
With this type of training you will choose a speed for the treadmill and stick to that speed for the full training session. Start off by choosing a pace where you can run 2-3 miles without taking a break. Once you can do this, increase the speed during your next training session and see if you can get 2-3 miles again without a break. Every couple of weeks add a mile or two to increase the distance you are running.
Pyramid training is very similar to interval training but there are some slight variations. before you start doing pyramid training (or interval training) make sure you get warmed up. Start off by running hard for two minutes, followed by a two minute jog. Now run hard for three minutes, but keep the two minute jog. Then run hard for three minutes, and jog for two minutes. Do this all the way up to a hard run of 5 minutes, and then work your way back down to 2 minutes. Only do this type of training once per week because it is very demanding on the body.
Other than treadmills being great for training, they are also great for finding your stride count, which can really help keep you in rhythm when running a half marathon. What you want to do is count each time your foot comes into contact with the treadmill for a full minute and then multiply that number by 2. Top level athletes have a stride of about 180 steps per minute. Find out what your stride count is and slowly try to increase it as time goes on.
While training outdoors for a half marathon is a great idea, it isn’t always possible. If it isn’t possible for you, don’t let that stop you from running a half marathon because the treadmill can provide you with just as good of a workout. Train hard on the treadmill and you will be more than ready for the half marathon!