How to Get Comfortable on a Treadmill

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If weather or other practical reasons force you to run or walk indoors, there are a few things you can do to make the transition better. Though many outdoor runners call it the “dreadmill,” using the treadmill doesn't have to be unpleasant. Set up with ample water, a towel to dry off and wear synthetic clothing that wicks away moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Treadmill
  • Replicate natural running conditions. You’re used to the natural wind resistance you feel when running outdoors, but you won't encounter this on the treadmill. According to Runner’s Academy, a gentle incline on the treadmill simulates outdoor running. Alternate your incline somewhere between 2 percent to 5 percent throughout your workout.

  • Follow your form. The treadmill belt guides your leg turnover, so you use your muscles differently compared to when you run outside. Don’t make the mistake of increasing your pace to make treadmill running feel more like the outdoors. It won’t, and you can get hurt. Get comfortable on the treadmill by letting good form inform you when to increase the speed settings. Alternating pace also beats treadmill boredom for a lot of runners. If you start to lean forward or grip the rails, you’re losing good form. Slow it down.

  • Focus on improving your stride rate to beat boredom on the treadmill. Concentrate on improving your running stride rate to get more comfortable with the transition to the treadmill. As with outdoor running, touch down with your mid foot, not your heel, for maximum efficiency. Keep your knees bent and positioned under your center of gravity, not out in front of you. Aim for 85 to 95 single leg strides per minute -- 90 steps are ideal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before getting on a treadmill to prevent injury; leave the static stretching for post-workout recovery.
  • If your focus is cardio, increase your speed and decrease the incline.
  • If your focus is strength, increase the incline and decrease your speed.
  • When you increase your pace on a treadmill, avoid lengthening your strides; increase the number of steps you take instead. Taking shorter, faster strides on higher inclines helps protect your joints.

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