Call me crazy, but I like making my own treadmill workouts. Yes, I know you could download an app or use a pre-programmed workout on your treadmill, but I think it’s more fun to have a hand in creating something for yourself. These can easily be adapted to the elliptical or another form of cross training too.
So, here we go. The three best treadmill workouts ever:
1. The Ultimate Fartlek- This is one of my all-time favorite workouts. I like the element of surprise, and the constant change in pace makes the workout go by quickly.
You’ll need: a treadmill, index cards (or a piece of paper cut into squares) and a pen or sharpie.
For a 5 mile workout you need 16 cards: write your regular warm up and cool down pace on two cards and label them warm up and cool down. For the remaining cards, write a variety of paces: for example, 6.5, 7.0, 8.2, 7.3, 8.0. Make sure to include some slower paces in with the faster paces so you have some recovery time. Keep the warm up and cool down cards out and shuffle the remaining cards. No peeking!
Start with the warm up card for 3 laps. When you’re getting close to the end of your third lap (3/4 mile) get ready to flip over your next card… then whatever that card says, you have to run that speed for one full lap (1/4 mile). Repeat until the deck is finished (your last card should be your cool down card for 3 laps).
Index cards work perfectly and cut down on prep time. You can even use bright colored cards or sharpies to spice things up (hey, it’s the middle of winter and every little thing helps). I’ve been using squares of paper pinned together with a safety pin. There’s something satisfying about ending a workout with a pile of balled up paper scraps.
2. 60 Minutes- You don’t have to watch 60 Minutes while running this workout, any TV show or podcast will do. I’m a total weirdo and sometimes I like doing workouts without any form of entertainment, but there are many workouts that I wouldn’t have gotten through without Netflix.
You’ll need: a treadmill
This one is pretty straightforward.
Warm up 10 minutes
Run 3 minutes fast, then 2 minutes easy. Repeat 7 more times (for a total of 8 times).
Cool down 10 minutes
The exact paces here don’t have to be the same every time. Aim for 15k-half marathon race pace for your fast segments at first, then drop it down to 10k pace or faster as you get further into the workout. The easy segments should be easy, but fight the urge to walk. You could also do this workout as 2:30 fast/ 2:30 easy or some other combination.
3. The Grab Bag- This one of is from my high school cross country coaching days. We frequently had tornado warnings and hurricane warnings where I coached in Virginia, and we would be stuck indoors. Since I had about a million index cards lying around, I would write down whatever came to mind and throw the cards in a bag. Each kid would get to choose a card and then we would do them together.
You’ll need: whatever you have! If you have a treadmill, great. If not, you can use weights, a mat, a pull up bar, exercise ball, bands, the hallway, stairs, etc. You’ll also need index cards (or a piece of paper cut into squares) and a pen or sharpie.
Write an exercise that will take about 1-2 minutes on each card. Don’t forget to include a few fun ones (water break, dance break, etc.). When I was coaching cross country I would make a few cards that said “make a ridiculous face” or “sing your favorite song,” which you can do on your own too (even if you don’t have teammates to make faces at).
This sample workout of 15 cards adds up to 20 minutes- shuffle and repeat if you want a longer workout, or make up your own exercises using what you have:
1 minute sprint, 1 minute jumping jacks, 2 minute easy run, 1 minute push ups, 2 minute easy run, water break, 1 minute stair running, walking lunges up and down hallway (2 minutes), plank for 1 minute, side plank each side for 30 seconds, 1 minute sprint, 1 minute mountain climbers, 1 minute burpees, 2 minute easy run, 2 minute dance break…
Shuffle the cards and place them in a pile or in a small bag. The best part of this workout is that you have no idea what you’ll have to do next… it’s like having your own personal trainer. You can keep your cards and recycle them for next time, and add new exercises when you think of them (or take out ones that you don’t like). A good playlist makes this workout even better.
Do you have any ideas for treadmill workouts or indoor workouts? I’d love to hear them!