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Treadmill Running Tips from A Treadmill Record Breaker

Treadmill world record breaker Florian Neuschwander reveals his top tricks for beating the ‘dreadmill’ and lists some of his favorite running machine workouts so you can try them yourself.


The treadmill divides opinion among runners like not much else. Some can’t stand it, others swear by it. You probably have your own opinion, your friends probably have another. But some of the negative press that they’ve received in recent years may not be entirely fair. 


There is no doubt that treadmills can be an effective tool, for running rookies and veterans alike. Endurance work, strength, speed, cardio, fat burning, tabata (HIIT) — you can do them all and more on a treadmill. When used right, they can put you on a (very straight) path to increased performance.   


“For me there are a lot of benefits to running on a treadmill,” says elite On ultrarunner Florian Neuschwander, who on Thursday, February 27, broke the world record for the fastest 50 kilometers on a treadmill with a time of 2 hours 57 minutes and 25 seconds. 


That’s an average pace of 3 minutes 30 seconds per kilometer. For 50 kilometers.  


Click here to see Flo's treadmill workouts, or keep scrolling to find out more about his record-breaking run, tips on overcoming boredom and a little treadmill myth busting.  



“Basically, you can run like it’s summer,” continues Florian.   

“You don’t need to wear winter clothing or carry your drinks. You can run at a good speed. When it’s windy or bad weather outside it’s difficult to run at a good tempo.    

“It sounds strange but as an ultrarunner you need to get used to doing boring things. You need to get mentally ready to run for four hours or even longer. And I believe that you can train your mental strength on the treadmill.     

If you can't handle 50 km on a treadmill, you're really not ready for a 100 km or 100 mile run.



During 12 weeks of preparation ahead of his record breaking attempt, Florian packed in eight 30 km runs (on the treadmill) at a pace ranging from 3:28-3:36 min/km. He also completed two treadmill marathons focusing on increasing speed throughout. The first took him 2:38:45 to finish and the second 2:34:12. As well as some treadmill interval sessions, doing 5 x 2,000 m at 18,5 km/h (3:14 km/h) with 1,000 m at 4:00 min/km in between, he did two outdoor ultramarathons (50 and 55km) at 4:21 min/km and 3:56 min/km. 


Kitted out in a pair of his trusty Cloudrush shoes, the Tank-T and the Lightweight Shorts, Florian smashed the existing record by 1 minute and 38 seconds.  


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“Treadmills Are Too Boring”


“I’ve heard people say that treadmill running is boring but in the 100 km German Championships, for example, you need to run 20 laps of 5 km. I tell you that can also get boring,” says Florian. 


"In newer machines you often have a big screen to watch YouTube or listen to music and that helps. When I did my second training marathon I was watching YouTube running films. Nothing special, just whatever I found. When I did the world record I was watching surf films. No sound. Just the pictures to watch. I tried to run and stay relaxed the whole 50 km — like a smooth looking surfer catching a big wave.


“If you don’t have a screen you can try this with your mobile phone. But be careful you don’t drop it on the belt, as that can get dangerous. You can also run next to a friend and talk a little bit. 


“I like to split my training into parts. For example, if I run 30 km on the treadmill I focus on the 10 km first. I like to increase the speed little by little. The first 10 km is the warm up. Then I think of the way up to 20 km and how I will do it. When I reach the 20 km I know that it’s just 10 km left. This way I can go faster again and training will be over soon. So always push.”


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“Treadmills Are Too Easy”

Some people are against running on a treadmill because they perceive it to be easier than going for a run outside. As the belt literally moves underneath your feet, there is slightly less muscle activation than if you were running outdoors.   

However, research suggests that an incline of just 1% is enough to replicate the energy output required when running outdoors (and that heart rates and oxygen intake for both are roughly the same).

What the treadmill cannot replicate, however, is the micro adjustments your feet and ankles are constantly making on the uneven surface that the natural world provides. Then again, reports suggest that the treadmill is easier (less impact, less damage) on your joints, when running, than natural surfaces.

So it's hard to know which is the best. But the idea that running on a treadmill is too easy? Well Flo has a few workouts that might change your mind…



The Trail Tamer       

- 1 km with 5% incline

- 1 km with 10% incline

- 1 km with 15% incline

- Repeat  

The Flowdown: “If you want to train for trails with big climbs you can do something with incline treadmill sessions. For example, I did 15 km following the pattern above and changing the incline and speed. I did the 5% incline at around 4:00 min/km. I did the 10% at around 12 km/h (5:00 min/km) and the 15% between 9 - 10 km/h (6:40-6:00 km/h).

“All in all this adds up to about 1500m of climbing over the total 15 km. I know this cannot really compare with going outdoors but it’s still a pretty good climbing session.”



The Endurance Builder


- 4km warm up 

- 3km (increasing speed with every km)

- 3km (return to first speed and repeat) 

- Repeat  


The Flowdown: “This is a good quality long run session and it will also train you for an unrhythmic race. If an upcoming race gets hard or has some hills in it, then you know that you have trained with changing speeds so you are ready to push the pace. 


“I did thing with an average pace around 3:30 min/km. I warmed up for 4 km with a 4:00 min/km pace and then I increased for 3 km. I started at 3:45 min/km, went up to roughly 3:31 min/km and then ended at 3:20 min/km (or 16.5, 17, 18 km/h). After the third pace, I go back down to 3:45 min/km and repeat the increase until I reached the 30 km. 


“You can try this by yourself at your own pace. Do 4 km warm up easy and then do 3 km with increasing speed. The last kilometer should be around your marathon pace but just run as long as you like and feel good.”



The Final Kick 


- 3 km at one speed

- 3 km at a greater speed 

- 3 km at a greater speed 

- Repeat according to preferred distance 

- 1or 2 km at top speed (optional)


The Flowdown: “For this one I did a 15 km treadmill run with increased every 3 km. I start with 15 km/h (4:00 min/km) and finish the last 3 k with 19 km/h (roughly 3:09 min/km).


"This is a good training for teaching you to really push it at the end of runs so you can have that final kick. I often push the last 2 km even more depending how I feel. Sometimes the last kilometer in 21 km/h (roughly 2:51 min/km) if I’m feeling good.”



Whether you plan to start adding treadmill running into your current workout routine or simply need some motivation to get you out the door, we highly recommend you check out Flo’s blog.


His final tip? “Try to keep calm, and always look forward to just running and doing your best.” 


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