4 Boredom-Busting Treadmill Workouts You Haven't Tried

Written by

Working out indoors doesn't have to mean sacrificing intensity. Here, we offer four workouts recommended by expert athletes that are sure to keep you stimulated no matter what the weather is like outside. 

Workout #1: Infinite Infinitesimal Interval Increases (The Four I's Workout)

  • Short intervals increasing speed with each repetition
  • Marius Bakken, Norwegian record-holder in the 3,000m and 5,000m, coach at Marathon-training-schedule.com 
One of the best ways to decrease the monotony of treadmill running is by injecting a stimulus of some type during the run. This is one reason why intervals, tempos, and hill workouts are all quite popular indoors. But why not take this to its logical extreme and have something changing every minute? "I always suggest intervals when doing treadmill running," Bakken says. "In many cases [continuous runs] give the muscles too much of a static or monotonous impact." One of Bakken's favorites is a run where the pace is increased every repeat by the tiniest of margins. Not only does it take the body through most of the physiological zones, Bakken says, but it keeps the mind plenty stimulated.

More: Take Your Treadmill to Hill and Back

"I never run with music or anything on the hard runs," he says, "I just like to get a 'feel' for pace and the pain one experiences when pushing hard."

Your turn: Starting at a pace that's barely distressing (perhaps 30 seconds slower than marathon pace), run 1 minute then back off to a recovery pace for 30 seconds. On the next interval, move the speed up 0.1 miles per hour. Continue increasing the speed each interval (while maintaining the same rest period) until you're running close to your 5K pace. Once you've hit a speed that you can no longer sustain on 30 seconds recovery, your workout is over.

"If you go 30 to 40 repeats you'll move through almost all kinds of paces," Bakken says. Variations of this workout abound. To make it more challenging, remove the rest period and continue running 1-minute segments until you can go no faster. To make it longer, consider changing it into a pyramid workout, where you come back down in pace at those same 0.1 mph intervals after you've reached your maximum speed. If you still need a challenge, consider changing the treadmill's gradient. (And if treadmill workouts aren't for you, try these New Indoor Fitness Classes as an alternate way to stay fit while training indoors.)

Workout #2: Race-Specific Hill Intervals

  • VO2 max intervals that mimic an upcoming road course
  • Pete Pfitzinger, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Academy of Sport, two-time U.S. Olympian

The track has any number of advantages when it comes to running. With good footing, precise measurement and clear markings, not to mention a fast surface, the track offers the ability to quantify a workout like few other places. But unless your venue has recently been rocked by an earthquake, it's unlikely many hills exist at your local 400m oval.

More: 3 Workouts to Increase VO2 Max