Talkin’ bout treadmills…..

I’ve never been one to hate on the treadmill. Once I became a mother it was the only way I was able to keep training for marathons. Without it I probably would have given up on marathoning long ago. I am a firm believer if you embrace the treadmill, then it no longer feels like a “dreadmill” but instead becomes another tool to get you closer to your goals. 

As we near the end of the school year I was starting to stress about how I was going to run this summer. My kids are too old to sit in the daycare at my gym, they are too large for running strollers and my old treadmill was on the fritz. I don’t mind getting up early but I don’t exactly always feel safe when I run alone in the dark at 4 something in the morning. 

Now with my new NordicTrack I have nothing to worry about! I plan on getting up early before my not-so-little-anymore people wake up and kick start my day in the best of ways. I’ll admit I have a no-so-secret crush on it because of the freedom it has given me to run whenever I want. It’s also nice to run on, so there’s that!

If you missed my review of my new NordicTrack Commercial 1750 from Sears you can find that HERE

Today I’m sharing with you two of my favorite “speed” workouts for the treadmill. 

The Ladder:

Ladders are great workouts in my opinion because you can tailor them to your needs. As your fitness and mileage increase you can either increase the amount of repetitions on the ladder or make each individual part longer or faster.

Here is an example of a ladder:

1 minute on followed by 1 minute off, 2 minutes on followed by 2 minutes off, 3 minutes on followed by 3 minutes off, 2 minutes on followed by 2 minutes off, 1 minute on followed by 1 minute off. Repeat the sequence 2-4 times or whatever your heart desires.

If you were to use this as a way to track your progression over the course of a training cycle I would recommend starting on the lower end of the repeats and then working up towards 4 or more. You want to make sure to do a warm up mile and a cool down mile. I prefer to warm up for 2 – 3 miles before a speed workout. 3 miles can be excessive for some people but I really enjoy having the extra time before diving in to the speed. I don’t mind the added mileage as long as the workout + warm up + cool down is under 10 miles total. 

If you want to make the ladder harder you can shorten the off or recovery period.

An example would be:

1 minute on followed by :30 seconds off, 2 minutes on followed by 1 minute off, 3 minutes on followed by 2 minutes off, 2 minutes on followed by 1 minute off, 1 minute on followed by :30 seconds off. 

Because you can customize this workout in a variety of different ways I love it for newer runners who are just getting in to speed work. The on is pushing yourself hard, the off is however slow you need to run to recover for the next interval. Don’t walk on the off segments, just slow down to a pace that allows you to feel like you can keep going!

Learn To Pace Yourself:

Pacing yourself is one of those things that comes easy for some runners and not so easily for the rest of us. I ran my first marathon in 2003 and STILL work on pacing. I aim to have the last mile of every run be the fastest mile of my run {not including long runs – still working on that or speed work – hello cool down}. I do this because in a race I want to start slow and finish fast. In my opinion, there are only a select few runners who can run an even pace throughout an entire race and still run at their full potential {Desi comes to mind}. More often than not the pacing strategy that works for most of us is starting out slower and making up that time in the second half of a race by finishing faster. I know it may seem hard to believe that you can make up that much time but it’s very possible. I routinely finish my runs over one minute faster than I start them. While what works for me might not work for you, I do believe the better you can pace yourself in long distance races, the better you are going to feel and perform. 

One way I practice this on a treadmill is by gradually increasing the speed over the course of the run. 

An example of this would be:

A 12-mile run – starting out at 5.0 and gradually increasing it as the run goes on, knowing that however fast I push the pace, I can’t back down. The goal is to increase speed so don’t cheat yourself out of the workout by starting at 5.0 for example, and then only increasing slightly to 5.5 – that’s not a significant enough difference. My goal on a run like this would be to finish the run at 8.0 or 8.5 maybe even sprinting in the last .25 of the run to simulate sprinting in the last .2 miles of a marathon. Obviously, your paces are going to differ based on your capabilities – these are just example numbers. 

Runners are typically crazy about numbers so one complaint I’ve had from clients who have done this workout is that they want to know what the pace per mile was. Don’t worry about that- You are working on how you feel during a run and pacing. Knowing your overall elapsed time is enough.

On this type of run, start at a pace that feels easy and learn to work in to the harder paces. Not being able to slow down the pace at all helps you learn to conserve your energy in the beginning so that you can push harder in the later stages. It also helps your legs adjust to running fast when tired at the end of a run. I believe this workout helps you physically but more so it helps you mentally. I’m a big believer in the mind-body connection and believe that some runners never reach their true potential because they can’t get the “mind” aspect of running under control. Think of this run as a speed workout for your mind!
And because I’m all about sharing the love of running…….Tell me what your favorite treadmill workout is and then head over to my Instagram page to enter to win a $200 gift card from Sears!!! 

Treadmill Workouts + A $200 Gift Card Giveaway From Sears via @mileposts

Note: This is part of a series of conversations sponsored by Sears about treadmills.



  1. Tricia says:

    Fave workout is the ladder and I soooo need a new TM because I have two large holes forming in the belt of my current Life Fitness model after 9 years of faithful use!!!

  2. Ha. I HATE the treadmill but, with a new baby on the way, I foresee it in my future!

  3. Great idea using the ladder workout with the treadmill. I’ll have to give that a try some time. I usually only run on the treadmill if it’s too hot, too cold or I need to run when it’s dark.

    Thanks for helping me hate the treadmill less :)

  4. Christina says:

    Now that I have two kids and work full time, I LOVE the treadmill. I miss the trees, wind in my hair feeling. However, these days a treadmill workout is a workout completed and often my alone time. I can plug in to podcasts and tune the world out, safely.

    Thanks for the ladder work out tip!

  5. Yes! The mind is such a powerful weapon when it comes to achieving anything. If I’m ever struggling to get through a run then I know RIGHT NOW is an opportunity to strengthen my mind and my willpower! I am a big believer that it truly is the key to breaking through those plateaus that you inevitably run into. And I had plenty of opportunities lol because I was using a treadmill for months to help condition my legs when I kept getting shin splints. The ability to control the incline when overcoming injury was a critical component of my recovery. This ladder concept is a great way to help stay motivated too :) Good stuff for sharing!

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