How to Train for Marathon on Treadmill?

If you are planning to run a marathon but don’t really have the time to train outdoors, don’t lose your hope. You can take the necessary preparation on your home treadmill. It’s not easy though if you don’t follow the proper guideline and I can’t let your dream of running a marathon get shattered, can I? Here is how to train for marathon on treadmill.

You can use the treadmill at your home or at the nearby gym and prepare yourself for the deadly challenge. Running on a treadmill has various advantages like it’s safer, you can keep track of mileage, speed, and on top of everything you can prepare yourself for staying at home.

Stay tuned to learn about all the basics of treadmill training to become the next marathon runner.

Different types of training for marathon

While running a marathon, no one runs at a constant speed. Sometimes you will have to speed up, sometimes you will need to go slow and give you a bit of rest while maintaining a slow pace. Then again you must speed up to complete in time.

Rather than running at a steady speed, try including various running speeds and techniques. Which will get you ready both mentally and physically for the marathon. I’ll discuss some of the most common running methods for marathon training:

1. Interval running on treadmill

Most of the marathon runners include this type of running in their training plans. And while running on the treadmill, it’s even easier to do and keep track. In this type of running, you need to run fast for a while, then run slowly and then run fast again. You have to repeat this process for several rounds. For your better understanding, here’s a demo example.

First start with a ten-minute warm up walk on 1 to 3% incline. After you have warmed up, do 3 rounds of 6 minutes run at a 5km/h speed setting incline at 3%. You can do 90 seconds of slow walking after every round to catch your breath.

After completing all three rounds, do a 5-minute run or walk at a very moderate speed to cool down your muscles.

2. Inclined pyramid running

Running on an incline is always better if you are training on a treadmill for a marathon. The incline works as an alternative for the wind resistance that you would feel while running the actual marathon. Using the incline, there’s a training method called pyramid inclined running. By adding this style of running to your routine you can strengthen your legs and boost your stamina.

Start by running 5 to 6 minutes at a moderate speed to warm up your body setting the treadmill at 1 to 3 percent incline. Then start running at higher inclined positions for 2 minutes each round. Start from 6 percent incline then go to 8, 10, 12 then start decreasing inclined position. Again, come back to 6. Complete the whole process at 5km/h speed.

You can take 60 seconds to recover after every round by walking at a slower speed. And finally finish it off by 5 minutes slow walk to cool down your body. Maintain a 1-3 percent incline while running to cool down.

3. Progressive tempo running

While training for a marathon, the most common problem that you might stumble upon is not being able to run fast enough or maybe long enough. And the solution to both of these problems can be adding progressive tempo running in your routine.

First you will have to get done with warm up and then do a 15-minute run at your target marathon speed setting the incline at 3 percent. Then run for 10 minutes at half of the speed of your target marathon speed. Completing that, run for 5 minutes more at 10 km/h pace while still maintaining a 3 percent incline on the treadmill.

And then finally do a cool down run for 5 minutes. By adding this variety of running, you will be able to push your limits and run faster and cover more distance.

How does treadmill training help?

Though it is said that outdoor training is better, it has its cons as well. But when it comes to indoor running, especially on the treadmill, there are a lot of issues you can avoid preparing yourself continuously throughout the whole time.

No matter what the weather condition is, you will never have to miss a day if you are using a treadmill. And since the preparation for a marathon keeps on going for several months, encountering bad weather is common among people who train outdoors. Running on the treadmill saves you the headache of worrying about weather. You can continuously focus on running without any interruption and build the needed stamina and strength to complete a marathon.

Training on the treadmill for a marathon also helps with adjusting with the weather you are going to run. For example, if you are to run in spring and now it’s winter. Now if you run outside the cold breeze might make it a bit easier for you to run, while the actual marathon is in spring, which is a bit warmer time. So, if you run in room temperature condition, you will run in an actual temperature you will be running on the marathon day. So, it will be more helpful.

Training on a treadmill has other benefits as well apart from the advantages in weather respective. I have listed a few for you.

  1. You might often get bored of running on the treadmill and that prepares you for the marathon mentally, because a marathon is a long race, and you might get bored after running for a while. Running on a treadmill for several months will make sure you are used to the boredom.
  2. Over time you develop a great running form which comes in handy in the marathon. Just be mindful you don’t grip handrails on the treadmill while running.
  3. You can choose from various running modes and get used to the ones you are comfortable with. Considering what your marathon will be like, you can adapt to running patterns with the help of a treadmill.
  4. On the treadmill you can set specific time intervals and speed, using this feature you can plan how you are going to run the marathon, at which speed you will run and for how long.
  5. And lastly, if you are someone with kids, it’s a great help for you since you can take the preparation staying home. You don’t need to worry about finding any childcare.

Tips about how to use treadmill for marathon training

Now that you know how beneficial treadmill running is for you, let’s figure out what’s the best possible way of using a treadmill for the training purpose. You can use a treadmill in many ways. I have listed some of the best training plans for marathons using a treadmill.

1. Never miss your warmup

First thing first, you need to warm up every time and every day before you start your actual running. You should never skip warm up no matter what. To make sure you don’t get injured, do stretches and slow walking on the treadmill. After completing at least, a 5-minute easy jog, go about your marathon preparation.

2. Using treadmill features to make the run realistic

The fact that while running on the treadmill you have no air resistance to fight against makes it a bit easier to run. But when you will be running a marathon, you will be running outdoors fighting against wind resistance.

To cover up for the less wind resistance, what you can do is set the treadmill in incline 1. Which will make it a bit difficult for you to run mimicking an outdoor environment. You can increase the incline a bit more to make things challenging for you and prepare your leg muscles for the big day.

Because while running on the treadmill, you don’t create that much pressure on your glutes or hamstrings that you do while running outdoors. So, to create that pressure you can set the incline at 3% and run at the speed you are planning to run the marathon.

3. Don’t hold the handrail

The handrail that you have on your treadmill is only there to assist while you get on top of the treadmill, and you get down from it. But most of us think it’s there to hold while we are running on the treadmill. It’s a very common misconception which might destroy your form.

So while preparing for a marathon, as you start running remember to keep your hands away from the handrail. If you hold the handrail you will hunch over it and won’t have quality training. In the long run, it might cause you back and neck pain, and cause pain to your shoulders as well.

So, you should not hold the handrail and run keeping your body straight and head up. This will ensure you are maintaining proper form to run a marathon.

4. Always look up while running

While running you should look up all the time, or at least try to. From time to time you can look at the console to see how many miles you have completed, or the number of calories you have burned.

But don’t look at your feet while running, don’t even look left or right as well. This will take away your concentration and cause serious injuries. On the other hand, the rhythm of running will be jeopardized if you look elsewhere. Which won’t be ideal while running a marathon. While running a marathon your eyes should only focus on what you have ahead.

5. Try to take more steps in a minute

First of all, what you need to make sure is that you are running naturally, by naturally I mean the speed and style that you would follow while running the marathon. Because often the moving belt in your treadmill makes it easy for you and you end up taking short strides.

But what you need to do is maintain a natural gait and longer strides. It will allow you to conserve energy. Increasing the number of strides to run a marathon is very important. It is said that the more steps you cover in a minute the better runner you are.

Now if you are wondering how to calculate the number of strides, simply count how many times your one foot touches the belt of the treadmill. Then multiply it by two. That’s your step count in a minute. Work on it and increase as much as you can before your marathon day comes.

6. Learn how to deal with boredom

Running outdoors is quite fun sometimes if you enjoy the sights while running, or if you feel the fresh wind and people walking dogs, children playing etc. as you run past them, you see and continuously the picture is changing in front of your eyes. You start your running from one point and at the end of the run you find yourself at a place far from your starting. Overall, these things make sure that you are not getting bored.

But while running on a treadmill, you might get bored very easily, which will throw you off track from your goal of running the marathon. So, at every stage you need to make sure there’s enough interesting elements and reasons for you to run.

In order to do that, you can add various marathon playlists to listen to. You can add a tv straight in front of your treadmill where you can watch video clips of other runners running as well. So, you will find it interesting to run.

Things you should avoid training successfully using a treadmill

There are certain things you need to learn and things you need to stay away from. And you might get information about what needs to be done in order to prepare for a marathon using a treadmill, but people won’t tell you what the things are you should stay away from. Have a look.

1. Wrong shoes

There are tons of different kinds when it comes to shoes. And you don’t really need to go for any fancy kind, rather stick to basic running shoes. Shoes in which you feel comfortable should be your go to shoe when you are about to run on the treadmill. Avoid shoes with hard and cheap soles.

2. Don’t even think about running barefoot

There are a million reasons behind why you should not run barefoot but let me just tell you a few. First of all the belt of the treadmill is not something you would feel comfortable running over for a while. Now imagine running for hours on it barefoot, do you feel sensation in your feet already just by thinking about it? Imagine the literal burn that you will feel on your feet if you do so.

On the other hand, your feet will get sweaty which will slow you down. And most importantly, you won’t be running the marathon without shoes. So why practice for it without shoes?

3. Don’t get used to a routine

Always mix up your running routine from time to time. Don’t let your body get used to the training. If it happens, you will hit a plateau and won’t be able to make any further progress. So add variety to your routine and always surprise yourself.

4. Try not to swing your arms much

Have you ever noticed a marathon closely? If so, you should have noticed the runners hold their hands at a very relaxed state and don’t really move their hands much. Because they save the energy by doing so which would have been wasted by swinging hands repeatedly. The less you will swing your arms, the more miles you will be able to cover.

5. Do not overexert yourself

Lastly, the deadliest thing to stay away from is overtraining. Give yourself rest when needed, don’t put yourself under enormous stress. You know you have time in your hand, so set small goals every day or every week, and achieve them accordingly.

If you overtrain and don’t take adequate rest, you become very prone to injuries and one injury might destroy your dream of ever running in a marathon.


I hope all these tips and information will help you figure out how to train for marathon on treadmill. Don’t lose hope if at times things seem very tough, just hang in there and run your way through. Pretty soon running will seem easy and I hope you continue running even after you complete the marathon.

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