The treadmill gets a bad rap — it is often referred to as the “dreadmill” — but many of us, especially when workouts move indoors, can’t escape its convenience. Whether you’re trying to escape the heat or avoid running in the snow, the treadmill is often an inescapable method of training.
There’s a reason the treadmill topped the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s list of the top fitness machine activities. Though there aren’t too many formal studies on just how many people utilize the treadmill during their workouts, one study found more than 50 million people train on the machines each year.
Though the treadmill has long been seen as a solo-training tool, the recent rise in treadmill fitness classes is slowly erasing that stereotype. If you don’t have a studio offering these classes near you, you aren’t completely out of luck. Here’s how to train with a buddy on the treadmill and make your workout routine that much more social.
INTEGRATING THE TREADMILL INTO YOUR TRAINING
You don’t need to see the treadmill as punishment — rotating it into your training can be beneficial to runners.
“I encourage everyone to be open-minded and give treadmill training a real chance,” urges Jeff Douse, co-founder of RacePace, a running and treadmill studio based in Houston. “Not only does it allow for runners of varied abilities to train together, but it also allows very precise training by setting exact speeds for exact times; something that’s a lot more challenging to perfectly execute on the roads or track.”
This is particularly beneficial for runners who train by pace and are working on their mile splits for an upcoming race. Speed work on the track is beneficial, of course, but with the treadmill, you have much more control to make sure your body knows exactly what your desired goal pace feels like.
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Douse recommends you do interval-based training twice per week, though some of the runners at his studio come in 3–4 times per week, “particularly during the hot Houston summers when doing quality training outdoors becomes challenging.” If you only have two days every week, you will still get the benefits of your interval training, however.
MAKING THE TREADMILL A SOCIAL ACTIVITY
Once you’ve integrated the treadmill into your own running routine, you can include a running buddy in on the fun. The best part is, even if you both are at different levels or running different paces, you still get to run side-by-side the whole workout.
“The same way you coordinate a spin class, a yoga session or an outdoor run, plan a treadmill session with a friend,” shares Douse. “Pick a place and time, collaborate on the workout you’re going to do in advance and combine forces on putting together a killer playlist to accompany those intervals!”
You can motivate each other along the way — something that is often lacking when it comes to running on the treadmill — and challenge each other to push just a bit further. Of course, you don’t always have to run on the treadmill with a buddy, but for those days when you are dragging your feet, a buddy can help keep you accountable.
Additionally, learning to run on the treadmill with a buddy can be beneficial in terms of visits to the gym that also involve strength training. You can begin or end your weight work with some intervals to get your muscles warmed up or get that extra calorie burn post-squat press or dumbbell incline row.
TRY THIS WORKOUT WITH A BUDDY
When creating the workouts for RacePace, Douse did a lot of trial workouts with a friend to gauge feedback and make sure the experience was as much social as it was a workout.
“In order to get over the stigma of the ‘dreadmill,’ I encourage skeptics to start with an interval-based speed session, alternating higher-intensity intervals with modestly paced recovery periods,” explains Douse. “The constant variety of alternating between speeds and mixed-tempo music to go with it will make the time fly — and the dreadmill will become a go-to training tool in no time.”
If you don’t have a studio like Douse’s to do the planning and playlist for you, here’s a workout he suggests you try with a friend. It increases the speed and intensity as the workout advances, and, at the same time, simulates a negative split, which is where you run the second half of a workout or race faster than the first half.
TREADMILL INTERVAL WORKOUT
5 sets of 2-minute intervals (with 2-minute recoveries in between)
How to do It: Start the 2-minute work intervals at your marathon race pace and with each successive interval, increase the speed slightly (half-marathon race pace, 10K race pace, 5K race pace, 1-mile race pace). Your total interval time will be 10 minutes and the 2-minute recoveries in between the intervals can be anything from a slow walk to a fast jog (depending on your fitness level). As always, any interval training should be preceded by a proper warm-up and followed by a proper cool-down.