Winter Training for Runners - Treadmill Training

Winter Training for Runners - Treadmill Training


Running on a treadmill for many is the only running option during the winter months.  While it might be seen as a necessary evil, the treadmill is a time-efficient way for building strength and stamina through interval sessions and for controlled tempo runs. It can keep the faster-twitched fibers alive, but not over-challenged during the off season.

For a runner approaching the treadmill as a training tool rather than just a moving sidewalk, it can be a smart tool alongside other winter cross training to emerge a stronger runner in the next season.

man on a treadmill


One advantage of a treadmill training is being able to train in a completely controlled environment making it very time efficient.

Being able to accurately control the pace and incline can allow a runner to feel different running paces without having to constantly check your watch and allow the body to learn what a pace feels like for when you head outdoors.

Fast Intense Efforts:  Once a week add in a structured interval session to your run workouts with some fast intense efforts. Aim to change up the rhythm/speed/incline every two minutes to stay mentally focused and not bored!

Simulating hills: There is no denying it, hills make you a strong runner. And sometimes hills can be hard to find! Using a treadmill for ‘hill repeats’ is a very efficient way to emerge a stronger runner in the spring.  Take advantage of the winter season to slow the pace and add the incline to the treadmill. Treadmill ‘hills’ are much less impact on the joints but great for strength and keeping the cardio engine running strong.

Treadmill +:  If you’re ‘treading’ in a gym with access to multiple cardio machines, mix it up. There’s nothing to stop you creating your own HIIT workout using more of the equipment available.  Do a quick turnover, moving from treadmill, to ’erg’ rower to stairmaster every 10-15 minutes and you’ll find the indoor training time go quicker while also spreading the physical load.  Using the winter off-season as a time to challenge your body in different ways is a smart way to spread the training load and body fatigue.

For a quick-fix treadmill session, download our JackRabbit 50 minute tempo session to get the belt humming.

jackrabbit treadmill tempo workout


Technology is taking the treadmill experience to a whole new level.  Zwift is a pioneer when it comes to indoor training in cycling and in 2018 they launched Zwift Run which has been gaining traction ever since.

From what is usually a solitary pursuit, Zwift Run transforms the treadmill into a communal activity, so you can run with your BFF from Alaska to your arch nemesis in London if they’re online with you.

For the entry price of a small footpod for your running shoe and a subscription to the Zwift app you can transform yourself into a running avatar and train and race virtually with other runners all over the world.

Where is this technology going? ‘Smart’ treadmills are beginning to appear on the market that connect with the Zwift app removing the need for the footpod.  While they’re expensive the price will continue to fall as more and more people adopt the technology. For now, grab a foot pod and add some gaming to your treading.

Sports tech guru DC Rainmaker has a complete round up of how to get started using Zwift Run.


When it comes to the best running shoes for treadmill workouts, you can afford to go light and fast given the treadmill is more forgiving than the road surface.  If you're reserving the treadmill for tempo, speed and hill workouts, you're going to need a shoe that will respond to the type of training session over a shorter period of time than your 'long run Sunday'.

The On Cloudflow is a low profile, light running shoe that will serve any treadmill runner. The Altra Escalante is a lower drop shoe with optimal cushion to allow for quick turnover on tempo workouts.  Finally, it's worth trying out the Nike React Infinity Run as a new kid on the block for runners with high arches needing light support on the treadmill running game.

About Author

Melanie Mitchell

Transforming movement into adventure. Our Mission: To personalize the fit process, hand-pick the best products, and create unique experiences that grow active communities.

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