Treadmill Running and a Half Marathon

by Fatima

treadmill running and a half marathon

Hello, I took up running 6 months ago and only ever run on a treadmill. Most weeks I run 9km 4 times a week and a fast 5km. I want to run a half marathon in six months' time but have never run on the road.

Will I be able to do this or is treadmill running just too different?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,

Thanks for your question about running a half marathon with help of a treadmill.

You are doing a great amount of running for somebody who started six months ago.

Let's get into the following:

1. Differences between treadmill running and running on the road
2. Half marathon - minimum training
3. Suggested Way Forward

Differences between Treadmill Running and Running on the Road

treadmill running and a half marathon
Treadmill running is different to running on the road. Generally, I would consider treadmill running to be a bit easier than running on the road, for the following reasons:

1. You don't have to supply as much of the forward movement as when running on the road.
2. The surface of a treadmill provides more cushioning.
3. You are not exposed to the elements.

You can get a very long way with treadmill running alone. Well figuratively speaking, only. Technically, you are not going very far when running on the treadmill.... :)

However, running on the road can be a bit of a rude awakening if all you are used to is treadmill running. It may seem unreasonably hard. And the harder surface could really impact your experience in a race like a half marathon. Especially in the second half.

Therefore I would be very hesitant to tell you that you should do all your half marathon running preparation on the treadmill.

Let's now first get into what running is needed to complete a half marathon and then let's get back to some possible ways forward.

Half Marathon - Minimum Training

treadmill running and a half marathon
You have got a great starting point already. Running five times a week with your four 9km runs and a fast 5k. That's fantastic.

For somebody doing their first half marathon, I would generally recommend to build up their weekly long run to 17k. With a starting point of 9k, you can slowly build this up by 1-2k per week. The Increasing Mileage Safely page has got more info on that.

Additionally, the fast 5k is a great faster addition to your training schedule. I'd recommend a bit of variety, either through tempo running or intervals.

All in all, you have time to prepare and a great starting point.

Suggested Ways Forward

You could get ready for your half marathon by just doing treadmill running.

treadmill running and a half marathon
When sticking to just the treadmill, keep in mind the following:

1. Some treadmills may have overheating issues when you run on them for longer than 90 minutes. It will depend on the type and speed. Check your treadmill manual for any guidelines with regards to usage to protect longevity of your treadmill.

2. In order to better simulate road running while on the treadmill you could add a touch of incline. This will make the treadmill running a little bit harder, but will pay dividends in the long run as you will be better prepared for running outside.

However, in order to best prepared for a road half marathon, it would be great if some of your runs could be outside. Just so you get accustomed to what it feels like running on the road. It would be great if this could be your weekly long run.

In short, you have got a great starting point and you can definitely do a lot of the half marathon training with use of the treadmill. However, for best results and a more enjoyable half marathon experience it will be very beneficial to do some road running as well!

Hope this helps.
Best of luck.
Kind regards,

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