Today’s treadmill workout is brought to you by the letter H, for hills. If you run on your own on the treadmill, you may never touch that handy-dandy incline button. Know that running on a 0 percent incline all the time sets you up for a big surprise when you run outside. The treadmill does not provide wind resistance or minor terrain changes that slow you down in the real world. A study in the Journal of Sports Sciences published in 1996 found that 1 percent incline on the treadmill is most comparable to running outdoors on a flat surface.
Hill running improves leg strength, efficiency, form, power and aerobic capacity. No matter how often I tell my class this, they still groan when I say it is a hill day. For a while, I had a designated hill day but no one showed up, so now, I just surprise them. Sometimes I wish I had a duplicate me to make me do hills on the treadmill, because I must confess — I rarely touch that button on my own.
Become a stronger runner by using this profile once every week or two:
Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes at a comfortable jog or even a light walk. Then run five 30-second speed drills – progressively going faster for each one. Rest 30 seconds between each of them. Your speed for the last 30-second drill should be uncomfortable, but not at a burn-out level.
Begin your hill routine by first finding a manageable pace that you can maintain pretty easily on an incline of 1 percent. Think of this “easy” pace this way: if you ran on this minor incline at this pace for 45 minutes, you would get a workout, but have a lot of juice leftover. Once you find the pace — after about 2 minutes — make it your mission to stick it for the entire workout.
Run 1 minute up an incline of 6. Recover at an incline of 1 percent for 1 minute.
Run 2 minutes up an incline of 5. Recover at an incline of 1 percent for 2 minutes.
Run 3 minutes up an incline of 4. Recover at an incline of 1 percent for 3 minutes.
Run 4 minutes up an incline of 3. Recover at an incline of 1 percent for 4 minutes.
Run up an incline of 5 for 1 minute, reduce to an incline of 4 for another minute, reduce to an incline of 3 for the last 2 minutes. Recover at an incline of 1 percent for 5 minutes.
Repeat your five 30-second speed drills with 30-second recoveries. Start with the fastest one and slowly reduce back down to a slightly increased speed for the final 30 second acceleration.
Cool down and stretch.