How To Mimic Trail Running On Your Treadmill

Trail Running On The Treadmill
People that like to trail run are often quite resistant to training on treadmills. The monotony of running in place on an exercise machine can feel like too much for someone that loves to be out in the elements of nature. Yet, the reality is that if you love running there will be times of the year when using a treadmill is more practical or even necessary. This might include bad weather (especially if you live in the Northern hemisphere) or even time restraints. Luckily, there are some simple ways to stimulate trail running on treadmills.

Keep Treadmill Workouts Interesting

The primary reason that treadmill running can lead to a loss of motivation is the lack of variety. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. This is where experimenting with incline, speed, and cadence can present different challenges while keeping you from staring at the clock and getting bored out of your mind. Playing with the metrics and tuning into how your body is feeling during your workout can make treadmill running feel a lot more like trail running. Also, don’t forget a killer song playlist to keep your mind occupied.

Train At An Incline

If you enjoy trail running, a very small percentage of your workout is probably spent running on a flat surface. You are always going up or down in some capacity. Mimic this on the treadmill with some self-paced hill training. To maximize your workout, figure out what incline you can reach while still speed walking (otherwise known as power hiking). Hold this pace for as long as possible to get the legs burning and heart rate up. By the time you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve reached a summit without having to climb back down. How long you go and how many times you repeat depends on your goals and fitness level.

Treadmill Interval Training

Speed training is a great option when you are on a treadmill. Simply alternate between a higher speed and a lower speed at a chosen time or distance interval. A popular choice is sprinting in 2-minute increments (another option is 400 meters) while resting for 2 minutes or less between each interval. You can change the spring to rest ratio and interval time based on your fitness needs. When getting started, try to choose a speed that truly pushes you to that next level.

Combo: Hills And Sprints

Of course, it’s possible to take the two options above and combine them for some hill sprint training. Find an incline that you can run at while choosing the highest possible pace for a designated time or distance. Then, swap to a lower incline and speed for recovery. You can switch up speeds and incline throughout to keep it interesting and versatile. Additionally, you can switch it up completely and use the hills as your “rest” time and flatter sections as your sprints too.

Thinking Outside the Box: Cardio HIIT

You can also skip the treadmill completely and still get in a great cross-training workout. Whether you choose another piece of cardio equipment, like the elliptical or bike, or want to grab a mat, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to boost your strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health in 30 minutes or less. The simplest way to do this is to switch between all-out exercise for as long as possible (usually 30 to 60 seconds) before taking a break just long enough to catch your breath. Then, repeat this sequence for 10 to 30 minutes.

Choose What Works For You

Working out on a treadmill is all about finding what keeps you driven and interested. Keep in mind that you need at least a 1% incline to account for the wind resistance that you would typically experience running on a trail. Outside of that, a treadmill workout can be a great way to protect yourself from the elements while still getting in a killer training session.

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