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Treadmill Running and a Half Marathon

by Fatima

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 March but have never run on the road.

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

running tips, half marathon running
Answer by Dominique:

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

Treadmill running is different to running on the road. Generally, treadmill running is easier as you don't have to supply as much of the forward movement as when running on the road.

When running on the road after a long time of treadmill running you will almost feel like you can't push yourself forward. It will seem unreasonably hard.

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

I wouild strongly suggest that you at least do your weekly long run outside. This will help you get used to running on the road. On top of that, running for longer than an hour on a treadmill can cause some issues with overheating of the motor. For longevity of your treadmill, it is best to not have it on for such a long time.

Build up your long run to a minimum of 16 km / 10 miles and if you, go higher than that. Also see my page about increasing mileage safely.

With five runs a week you are doing very well and should have a very good base for your half marathon. Some changes I would make to your running program are:

  • Put in the long run as suggested before

  • Replace the fast 5k by a tempo running session.

  • About 3 months out from race day, replace one of the (easy pace) 9k runs by some interval running.

  • In order to better simulate road running while on the treadmill you should put up the incline at setting 1 or 2. 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.

    Even with that, please make sure you do your weekly long run outside, otherwise I fear your half marathon experience will not be an enjoyable one.

    Hope this helps.
    Best of luck.
    Kind regards,

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