Here’s a secret: Sprinting on a treadmill doesn’t have to totally suck


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A few weeks ago I discovered what I consider the Holy Grail of tips for running on the dread-, er, treadmill. During an audio-guided workout, the coach let slip that front-loading a running-in-place session with an incline makes it easier to sprint like a cheetah during the latter half of your mileage.

Naturally, I had to investigate. According to Hollis Tuttle, coach of New York City’s Mile High Run Club, applying the “eat the frog” mentality to your treadmill time pays off in speed. “Prior to picking up the pace, I strongly recommend running up a few hills to ensure that you are better prepared to find your top speed when on flat ground,” she says. “Running uphill improves your form because you must lift your knees higher and land with your feet beneath you.”

As a result, you’ll increase your joint mobility and activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers, explains the coach. “All of which will ultimately improve your leg turnover and make your stride more efficient,” Tuttle says. In other words, hitting your hills before sprints will make crushing that 9.0 speed oh-so-much easier. But if you want to test the method for yourself, grab your sneakers and try the Tuttle-approved treadmill routine below. 

Hollis Tuttle’s incline-first treadmill program

Warm-up

5 min: Dynamic warm-up
5 min: Easy jog warm-up

Treadmill intervals

2 min: Conversation pace
1 min: Recovery (walk or light jog)
1 min: Conversation pace with 1 percent incline
1 min: Conversation pace with 5 percent incline
1 min: Recovery

1 min: Conversation pace with 1 percent incline
1 min: Conversation pace with 6 percent incline
2 min: Recovery

1 min: Run (7-9 rate of perceived exertion) with 1 percent incline
30 sec: Run with 6 percent incline
2 min: Recovery

1 min: Run (7-9 rate of perceived exertion) with 1 percent incline
30 sec: Run with 7 percent incline
2 min: Recovery

1 min: Run (7-9 rate of perceived exertion) with 1 percent incline
30 sec: Run with 8 percent incline
2 min: Recovery

1 min: Sprint with 1 percent incline
2 min: Recovery

1 min: Sprint with 1 percent incline
2 min: Recovery

1 min: Sprint with 1 percent incline
5 min: Recovery

Cool Down

Walk it out and stretch it out

Speaking of making the most out of your time on the treadmill, here’s why to never (never!) hold on to the machine’s rails. Plus, how to use your Apple Watch to hack your indoor run

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