The 5 best workouts for runners

The 5 best workouts for runners

The 5 best workouts for runners

Treadmill workouts are a great way for runners to improve their speed, endurance, and overall performance. Whether you're training for a race or just looking to switch up your routine, these 5 workouts will take your running to the next level. From warm-up exercises to interval training and endurance runs, there's something for every runner. So lace up your shoes and get ready to hit the treadmill!

Key Takeaways

  • Dynamic stretching, walking lunges, and high knees are effective warm-up exercises for runners.
  • Sprint intervals, hill repeats, and fartlek training can help boost speed and endurance.
  • Incline running, sled pushes, and plyometric jumps are great for building muscles and improving performance.
  • Long slow distance, tempo runs, and progressive runs are ideal for improving endurance.
  • Walking recovery, yoga for runners, and foam rolling are essential for recovery and rejuvenation.

Warm Up: Get Your Body Ready to Run

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is a crucial part of any warm-up routine for runners. It involves moving your muscles and joints through a full range of motion to increase blood flow and flexibility. This type of stretching helps to activate the muscles you'll be using during your run and prepares them for the demands of the workout.

Here are a few dynamic stretching exercises you can try:

  • Leg swings: Stand next to a wall or support and swing one leg forward and backward, keeping it straight.
  • Arm circles: Extend your arms out to the sides and make small circles with your hands.
  • Walking lunges: Take a step forward with your right foot and lower your body into a lunge position, then repeat with the left foot.

Remember, dynamic stretching should be done in a controlled and gentle manner. Avoid any bouncing or jerking movements that could lead to injury. Take your time and focus on warming up your muscles properly before hitting the treadmill.

Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are a great way to warm up your legs and activate your glutes before a run. Lunges help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. To perform walking lunges, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step forward with your right foot, bending your right knee to a 90-degree angle. As you step forward, lower your left knee towards the ground, keeping your back straight and your core engaged. Push off with your left foot and bring it forward to meet your right foot. Repeat the movement, alternating legs as you walk forward. Aim to do 10-12 lunges on each leg.

Here's a simple table to help you keep track of your walking lunges:

Set Reps
1 10
2 12
3 10

Remember to maintain proper form and focus on engaging your leg muscles throughout the exercise. Take it slow and steady, and feel the burn!

High Knees

High knees is a great exercise to get your heart rate up and warm up your leg muscles. To perform high knees, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Lift one knee up towards your chest as high as you can, while driving the opposite arm forward. Alternate legs and keep a quick pace. This exercise helps improve coordination, strengthens your core, and increases your running speed.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your high knees workout:

  • Keep your core engaged and maintain good posture throughout the exercise.
  • Land softly on the balls of your feet to reduce impact on your joints.
  • Pump your arms vigorously to increase the intensity of the exercise.

Remember, high knees are just one of the many warm-up exercises you can incorporate into your running routine. Mix and match different warm-up exercises to keep your workouts fun and effective.

Interval Training: Boost Your Speed and Endurance

Sprint Intervals

Sprint intervals are a great way to boost your speed and endurance. This workout involves alternating between short bursts of maximum effort sprints and periods of active recovery. It's a high-intensity workout that can help you improve your running performance.

Here's a simple sprint interval workout you can try:

  1. Warm up with a few minutes of easy jogging.
  2. Sprint at your maximum effort for 30 seconds.
  3. Recover by jogging or walking for 1 minute.
  4. Repeat the sprint and recovery cycle for a total of 10-12 times.

Remember to listen to your body and adjust the intensity and duration of the sprints based on your fitness level. It's important to push yourself, but also to avoid overexertion and injury.

Tip: To make the workout more challenging, you can increase the sprint duration or decrease the recovery time between sprints.

Give this sprint interval workout a try and see how it improves your speed and endurance on the treadmill!

Hill Repeats

Hill repeats are a challenging workout that can help improve your speed and endurance. Running uphill forces your muscles to work harder, building strength and power. Here's how to do hill repeats:

  1. Find a steep hill that takes about 1-2 minutes to run up.
  2. Warm up with a few minutes of easy jogging.
  3. Sprint up the hill at a fast pace, focusing on driving your knees up and pumping your arms.
  4. Jog or walk back down the hill to recover.
  5. Repeat the sprint up the hill 5-10 times, depending on your fitness level.

Tip: Start with a shorter hill and gradually increase the distance and intensity as you get stronger.

Fartlek Training

Fartlek training is a fun and flexible way to improve your running performance. It involves alternating between fast and slow running speeds, mimicking the unpredictable nature of outdoor running. The word 'fartlek' is Swedish for 'speed play,' and that's exactly what it is - a playful and spontaneous workout that keeps you on your toes.

During a fartlek run, you can choose landmarks or objects in your environment as your cues to change your pace. For example, you could sprint to the next lamppost, jog to the park bench, and then pick up the pace again until you reach the next intersection. This type of training helps to improve your speed, endurance, and mental toughness.

Benefits of Fartlek Training:

  • Boosts cardiovascular fitness
  • Increases anaerobic capacity
  • Enhances speed and agility
  • Improves mental resilience

Remember to listen to your body and adjust the intensity of your fartlek runs accordingly. It's important to start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you build your fitness level.

Strength and Power: Build Muscles and Improve Performance

Incline Running

Incline running is a great way to challenge your muscles and improve your overall running performance. By running on an incline, you engage more muscles in your legs, including your calves, quads, and glutes. This helps to build strength and power, which can translate to faster and more efficient running on flat surfaces.

To incorporate incline running into your treadmill workout, start by gradually increasing the incline level. Aim for a moderate incline of around 5-7% to begin with, and then gradually increase it as you get stronger. You can also mix it up by doing intervals of incline running, alternating between a higher incline and a lower incline or flat surface.

Benefits of Incline Running:

  • Builds leg strength and power
  • Improves running form and efficiency
  • Increases calorie burn

Tip: When running on an incline, focus on maintaining good posture and a slightly shorter stride length. This will help you maintain your balance and prevent excessive strain on your joints.

Sled Pushes

Sled pushes are a great way to build strength and power in your legs. Pushing a sled requires you to use your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, giving you a full lower body workout. It's like doing a squat or a deadlift, but with the added challenge of pushing a heavy object. Not only does it help improve your running performance, but it also helps prevent injuries by strengthening the muscles that support your joints.

If you're new to sled pushes, start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the resistance as you get stronger. Here's a simple sled push workout you can try:

Set Distance Weight
1 20 yards 50 lbs
2 40 yards 75 lbs
3 60 yards 100 lbs

Remember to maintain good form throughout the exercise. Keep your back straight, engage your core, and drive through your legs. Take breaks as needed and listen to your body. Sled pushes can be intense, so it's important to pace yourself and not overexert.

Tip: To make sled pushes even more challenging, try adding a hill to your workout. Pushing the sled uphill will engage your muscles even more and give you an extra cardio boost.

Plyometric Jumps

Plyometric jumps are a great way to build explosive power and improve your running performance. These high-intensity exercises involve quick and powerful movements that engage your muscles and increase your heart rate. Jumping and landing with proper form is key to prevent injury and maximize the benefits.

Here are a few types of plyometric jumps you can incorporate into your treadmill workout:

  1. Box Jumps: Find a sturdy box or step and jump onto it, then step or jump back down. Start with a lower height and gradually increase as you get stronger.
  2. Tuck Jumps: Jump up and bring your knees towards your chest, then land softly. This exercise targets your lower body muscles and helps improve your explosive power.
  3. Split Squat Jumps: Start in a lunge position, then explode off the ground and switch legs mid-air. This exercise works your leg muscles and helps improve your agility.

Remember to warm up properly before attempting plyometric jumps and start with lower intensity exercises if you're a beginner. Incorporate these exercises into your treadmill workout to take your running to the next level!

Endurance Runs: Go the Distance

Long Slow Distance

When it comes to endurance runs, the key is to go the distance. These runs are all about building up your stamina and pushing your limits. Whether you're training for a marathon or just want to improve your overall endurance, incorporating endurance runs into your treadmill workouts is essential.

One way to challenge yourself during an endurance run is to incorporate long slow distance (LSD) training. LSD runs are typically done at a comfortable pace that allows you to maintain a conversation. The goal is to gradually increase the distance of your runs over time.

Here's a simple table to help you track your LSD runs:

Run Distance Pace Duration
5 miles Easy 45 mins
8 miles Easy 1 hour
10 miles Easy 1 hour 15 mins

Remember, the key to endurance runs is to pace yourself and focus on building up your mileage gradually. It's all about going the distance and challenging yourself to push beyond your limits!

Tempo Runs

Tempo runs are a great way to improve your running endurance and speed. During a tempo run, you run at a comfortably hard pace for an extended period of time. This helps to increase your lactate threshold, which is the point at which your muscles start to fatigue. By regularly incorporating tempo runs into your training, you can improve your overall running performance.

One way to structure a tempo run is to start with a 10-minute warm-up at an easy pace. Then, increase your speed to a pace that feels challenging but sustainable for the duration of the tempo portion. Aim to maintain this pace for 20-30 minutes. Finally, finish with a 10-minute cool-down at an easy pace to help your body recover.

Here's an example of a tempo run workout:

Warm-up Tempo Run Cool-down
10 minutes easy pace 20 minutes at tempo pace 10 minutes easy pace

Remember to listen to your body and adjust the pace as needed. Tempo runs can be tough, but they're worth it for the improvements they can bring to your running performance.

Progressive Runs

Progressive runs are a great way to challenge yourself and improve your endurance. Start by running at a comfortable pace, and then gradually increase your speed throughout the run. This helps to build your stamina and push your limits. Remember to listen to your body and adjust the pace accordingly.

One way to structure a progressive run is to divide it into segments. For example, you can start with a slower pace for the first segment, then pick up the pace for the second segment, and so on. This allows you to gradually increase the intensity and keep your body guessing.

Here's an example of how you can structure a progressive run:

Segment Pace
1 Easy
2 Moderate
3 Fast

Tip: As you increase your speed, focus on maintaining good form and breathing rhythmically. This will help you maintain efficiency and prevent injury.

So next time you hit the treadmill, give progressive runs a try and see how they can take your running to the next level!

Recovery and Active Rest: Relax and Rejuvenate

Walking Recovery

After an intense workout, it's important to give your body time to recover and rejuvenate. Walking is a great way to do this. It helps to increase blood flow to your muscles and reduce muscle soreness. Plus, it's a low-impact activity that allows you to stay active without putting too much stress on your joints.

To make the most of your walking recovery, here are a few tips:

  • Take it slow: Walk at a comfortable pace that allows you to relax and enjoy the movement.
  • Focus on your breathing: Take deep breaths in and out to help oxygenate your muscles and promote relaxation.
  • Stretch it out: Incorporate some gentle stretching exercises into your walk to help loosen up tight muscles.

Remember, the goal of walking recovery is to give your body a break while still staying active. So take your time, listen to your body, and enjoy the benefits of this simple yet effective form of recovery.

Yoga for Runners

Yoga is a fantastic way for runners to improve flexibility, strength, and mental focus. Incorporating yoga into your training routine can help prevent injuries and enhance your overall performance. Here are some key benefits of practicing yoga for runners:

  • Improved Flexibility: Yoga poses target tight muscles and help increase your range of motion, allowing for better running form and reduced risk of injury.
  • Increased Strength: Yoga poses require you to engage and strengthen your core, legs, and upper body, which can improve your running efficiency and power.
  • Enhanced Mental Focus: Yoga teaches you to focus on your breath and be present in the moment, which can help you stay focused and calm during long runs or races.

So, whether you're a beginner or an experienced runner, consider adding some yoga sessions to your training plan. It's a great way to complement your running workouts and take your performance to the next level!

Foam Rolling

After a tough workout, it's important to take some time to foam roll and give your muscles some TLC. Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that helps to release tension and improve flexibility. It's a great way to relax and rejuvenate your body.

Foam rolling can be done with a foam roller or a massage ball. Simply roll the foam roller or massage ball over your muscles, focusing on any tight or sore areas. Spend a few minutes on each muscle group, applying gentle pressure and allowing the roller or ball to work its magic.

Benefits of Foam Rolling:

  • Relieves muscle soreness: Foam rolling helps to break up adhesions and knots in the muscles, which can reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery.
  • Improves flexibility: By releasing tension in the muscles, foam rolling can improve flexibility and range of motion.
  • Enhances performance: Regular foam rolling can help to prevent injuries and improve overall performance.

So next time you finish a run, don't forget to give your muscles some love with a foam rolling session. Your body will thank you!


In conclusion, incorporating these 5 best treadmill workouts into your running routine can help you improve your speed, endurance, strength, and overall performance. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced runner, these workouts offer a variety of options to challenge and push yourself. Remember to always warm up properly before starting any workout, and listen to your body to avoid injury. So lace up your shoes, hop on the treadmill, and get ready to take your running to the next level!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I do treadmill workouts?

It is recommended to do treadmill workouts 3-5 times per week, depending on your fitness level and goals.

Can I lose weight by doing treadmill workouts?

Yes, treadmill workouts can be an effective way to burn calories and lose weight, especially when combined with a healthy diet.

Do I need to warm up before a treadmill workout?

Yes, it is important to warm up before a treadmill workout to prepare your body for the exercise and reduce the risk of injury.

What is interval training?

Interval training involves alternating between high-intensity exercise and periods of rest or lower intensity exercise. It can help improve speed and endurance.

Are treadmill workouts suitable for beginners?

Yes, treadmill workouts can be modified to suit beginners by adjusting the speed and incline. It is important to start at a comfortable level and gradually increase the intensity.

Can I use the treadmill for long distance training?

Yes, the treadmill can be used for long distance training by adjusting the speed and incline to simulate outdoor running conditions.

How long should a treadmill workout be?

The duration of a treadmill workout can vary depending on your fitness level and goals. It is recommended to start with 20-30 minutes and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable.

Is it necessary to cool down after a treadmill workout?

Yes, cooling down after a treadmill workout is important to gradually decrease your heart rate and prevent muscle soreness.

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