Treadmill run workout: how to build speed

If you have a treadmill why not try this speed-building session so you can enjoy big performance gains when life gets back to normal

Credit: Getty Images

Most of us enjoy running outside, rightly so, and it should be the cornerstone of your training. But, in these uncertain times indoor running may offer a great alternative.


Treadmills allow you to control factors such as pace and incline, as well as removing variables like wind, people and surface changes. You can test and retest with greater accuracy, it’s light and safe, getting ready can be quicker, and mirrors offer the chance to see yourself run so you can build a more efficient stride.

The benefits of running indoors on a treadmill 

The best treadmill deals

You can do any session on a treadmill, but this session is designed to help build or maintain speed. While long, steady runs are the default for many during the winter months, my feeling is that polarised training that builds speed while maintaining aerobic fitness is far more beneficial. All reps are under 45secs so that they don’t tip over into threshold work – that can come later in the season, if there’s a season!

Coach’s top 3 tips for the session

Keep well hydrated

Running indoors can induce heavy sweat loss, so make sure you drink around 200mls every 20mins and that you include electrolytes. Two to three pinches of salt in 500mls should suffice.

Wear calf guards

Treadmills generally present a softer surface than pavement, but the change under-foot is a stress that your calves might not be used to, so wear calf guards during your first few sessions.

Crank up the tunes

Listening to music is a really good way to distract you from the effort, which can linger in the forefront of you mind when indoors. Choose music that motivates and energises.



5mins dynamic stretches or run
drills, such as lunges, squats, heel flicks or a-skips

10mins easy

4 x [45secs moderate/2:15mins easy]

3mins easy

Main Set

2 x

10secs max effort; 2mins easy

15secs max effort; 2:30mins easy

20secs max effort; 3mins easy

25secs max effort; 3:30mins easy

30secs max effort; 4mins easy


5-10mins easy

Adapt for beginners

Either follow the structure as set but reduce max effort to vigorous OR keep max effort reps to 10secs while following recovery as set.

Adapt for Ironman

Keep time of max effort at 30secs but follow the same rest intervals. You could also repeat in reverse.

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