Treadmill Threshold Workouts

Running on a treadmill gives you more control over the variables of your workout.

At some point this winter nearly everyone has experienced cold weather. The third week in January, the only spot in the nation that wasn't blue (meaning really cold) on the weather map was southern Florida.

The chilly weather has driven triathletes and runners indoors to hit the treadmills. If the cold hasn't driven you to the treadmill, perhaps it is the promise of performance later in the season that has you happy as a hamster to run nowhere.

I've outlined the following three-week progression of workouts. Depending on how you decide to run the sessions (more on that later), you can do one or more of the following:

  • Maintain your leg speed when outdoor runs on ice don't allow you to run fast
  • Improve your lactate threshold heart rate
  • Improve your lactate threshold speed
  • Improve leg strength
  • Get a high quality workout completed in 45 minutes

You will do one workout each week for three weeks. It is best if you begin following a rest week, and the first treadmill session is in the first week of your new training cycle.

Workout #1

Warm up at 0 to 1 percent incline for 20 minutes at a pace that is completely aerobic. This would be marathon pace or slightly slower.

After the warm-up, run five repeats that are three minutes in length. Jog an easy one minute recovery interval (RI) between each running interval. For the run intervals, put the treadmill speed at your best 10K pace from last season.

Run the first three minutes at zero incline, the second repeat at 1 percent, the third at 2 percent, the fourth at 3 percent and the final repeat back to zero incline. Cool down with easy jogging for the remaining time to total 45 minutes.

5 x 3 minutes (1 minute RI) at 0%, 1%, 2%, 3%, and finish with 0% incline.

Modifiers

  • For your one-minute easy jogging interval, slow the treadmill down and reduce the speed so you can get your heart rate down quickly. If you have to walk to recover, your run interval speed is too fast.

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  • For those just beginning to work on their lactate thresholds, your heart rate at the end of the first repeat should be roughly 13 beats below your lactate threshold heart rate. Your heart rate will slowly climb throughout each work bout so you finish the last incline interval at three beats below threshold heart rate. The entire work portion is done at lactate threshold heart rate minus 13 to minus three beats. (Yes, the 13 is first intentionally because I don't want you to begin too fast.)
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  • For those that already have some threshold work under your sweat-wicking garments this season, your heart rate should be roughly ten beats below your lactate threshold heart rate at the end of the first repeat. Your heart rate will slowly climb throughout each work bout so you finish the last incline interval at three beats above threshold heart rate. The entire work portion is done at lactate threshold heart rate minus ten to plus three beats. (Yes, the ten is first intentionally because I don't want you to begin too fast.)
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  • If this is your first season of speed work or it has been awhile since you've done speed work, remove the 3 percent incline interval in Workout No. 1 and all other workouts—so you do one less repeat than shown.
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  • As you progress through the three workouts, try to keep within the heart rate guidelines I've outlined. For some people, this may mean slowing the treadmill pace down. For others, it may mean increasing the treadmill speed—so you're going slightly faster than your best 10K pace from last season.
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  • The perceived exertion rate of each running interval should be moderately difficult. At the end of each run interval, you should not be gasping for breath but also not be able to sing a tune while breathing and sounding perfectly normal (normal for you, that is.)

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