Is it possible to use a treadmill for a majority of your mileage and still achieve the desired effects on race day? While this debate can be polarizing among runners, in my experience, the treadmill can indeed be a useful tool in achieving success.

I remember when I trained for my last marathon I probably spent more time on the treadmill than ever before, did my long runs on the weekends (outdoors), and hit a PR in that particular marathon. Here’s my reasoning why I used the treadmill so much and some helpful tips I learned along the way.

Embrace the convenience

I love the convenience of just heading to the gym whenever I wanted because I had daycare included. I didn’t have to worry about inclement weather, how much daylight was left or finding the right running route for a specific workout or race simulation. 

Get creative

I also always made sure that my average pace was at least 8-10% faster than my regular “outdoor” pace or that the incline was set at ~1% to make up for the lack of headwind, slight leg turnover assist, and controlled temperature and terrain. If I wanted to find a “hilly” route for that day, I could just set the treadmill on an incline. Instead of looking for a flat, clear tempo loop, I could set my pace and get straight into it.

Use those headphones

While there are mixed perspectives of whether or not you should listen to music while running, being on a treadmill is the perfect time to not have to worry about music’s impact on safety or distraction. I listen to podcasts while doing an easy run, or pick out pump-up songs for a harder workout. Just be careful not to crank the volume too loud (or invest in noise-canceling technology) so as to not cause hearing damage over the treadmill thumping.

Track in Stopwatch Mode

Are you familiar with the indoor workout feature in the ASICS Runkeeper app? Stopwatch Mode lets you track all those workouts that don’t require GPS. We’ve got you covered from treadmill runs to weightlifting sessions to yoga flows.

It’s no secret that running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside. But the convenience and customizable nature of treadmill workouts can keep you committed to your training and specifically challenged in a way that can help your race-day performance. Given my experience and the success of others, it is definitely possible to train for races utilizing both the treadmill and the great outdoors.