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This is a workout for building aerobic strength and endurance, and especially helpful if you plan to compete on a course with runnable climbs. You can do this session at any point in your training plan for marathons or ultramarathons.

Summer is getting ridiculously hot in some parts of the world with frequent rain storms. Logging miles on the “dreadmill” may not be the most exciting form of running, but it’s a nice option to have. Plus, it’s an excellent way to practice patience and the ability to zone out.

Read on if you’re ready to chop wood, carry water, and consistently show up.

4 x 12 minutes of 10-15% incline + 5 minutes 0%

Warning! Including warm-up and cool-down, your time on the treadmill can be up to 90 mind-numbing minutes.

The entire session should be run at an easy effort. Your heart rate should not exceed the low end of zone 3 (if you go by a five-zone system) or at a pace you can hold a conversation without much strain.

Although the intensity is low, your patience will be tested. I usually put on a movie, watch League Pass, or catch up on podcasts and start grinding. 


Benefits of the workout:

  1. Building aerobic strength with hills and a steady pace. Running slow has immense benefits.
  2. It’s an easy effort. The treadmill is obviously helpful with maintaining the correct pace. Since you have to physically press a button to change pace, it prevents you from taking it too easy or speeding up unnecessarily.
  3. The inclined segments improve your hill running efficiency.
  4. The flat segments teach your body to recover while holding pace after you crested a climb.


Tip: For the uphills, play around with the inclination to keep things interesting. Remember to slow down if you increase the steepness to maintain an easy effort.


When should you do this workout?

  1. I strongly recommend doing this workout during the base-building phase, but it’s suitable all through a training block and for runners of all experiences. Feel free to hike the climbs if your fitness isn’t quite there yet.
  2. Sometimes the weather just isn’t suitable for outdoor runs. This is a great replacement.
  3. And not everyone lives near hills. It’s an excellent way to clock some easy mileage and accumulate vert.


How to do the workout?

Step 1

A warm-up jog on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes.

Step 2

I prefer doing dynamic stretching and activation drills before every run if time permits. But since this is not a high-intensity workout, step 2 is optional.

Step 3

Begin workout.

Incline the treadmill to at least 10%. Your pace should be something you can maintain easily throughout the segment.

Feel free to increase or decrease the steepness to avoid boredom but keep it at at least 10%.

Run for 12 minutes.

Step 4

Reduce the treadmill inclination back to 0% and run 5 minutes.

The key for the flat segments is to avoid slowing down. You should actually be able to speed up and maintain the same perceived effort.

Step 5

Repeat steps 3 and 4 three times.

Tip: This is a long run, so be sure you have water and sports nutrition prepared.

Step 6

Cool down for 5-10 minutes.

Step 7

Consume recovery sports nutrition or eat a proper meal within 30-40 minutes post-run. Protein bars and electrolyte drinks are all convenient options.


Some advice:

As mentioned, this treadmill workout suits runners of different fitness levels. 

If you schedule this run for later in the training block when you’re in better shape, you can increase the pace on the climb to simulate a moderate-steady effort (you should still be able to speak in short sentences) and float on the flats to recover.

If you’re getting back into training after a break, feel free to shorten the workout and do 2-3 repetitions.