How to Train for a Half Marathon on a Treadmill

Natalie Cecconi
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Prepare for the Half Marathon Environment

Training for a half marathon on the treadmill forces you to work on your specific weaknesses and the strategies that will help you break through those plateaus. With a little bit of strategy, steady progression, and confidence, you can run your half marathon on the treadmill and break 2 hours. Sure it’s hard. But you can do it.

Running a half marathon on a treadmill offers you a safe and consistent training environment. When you run outside, the weather can be unpredictable and you never know what you might run into.

Being indoors also means you don’t have to deal with traffic, hills, or trails. You mitigate these variables and are forced to focus on your workout without any distractions.

Running a half marathon on a treadmill is a challenge, but it’s one that can be conquered. To help you reach your goal, we’ve put together a training plan that will help you train for the half marathon.

Practice With an Incline

The most well-meaning runners will tell you that the best thing you can do to simulate the feeling of running a half marathon is to run long distances on flat ground.

While it’s accurate that the muscles you engage for running on a flat surface most closely mimic those that will be used for a race, it’s just not going to replicate the experience of the race itself. You will not be running on flat ground during the competition. So to get a real half marathon training regiment, you need to create a real half marathon training.

No matter how feasible it may be for you to do one long run every week, the truth is that a) it’s not the best way to train and b) many experienced runners don’t do it.

They instead opt for two shorter, high-intensity runs every week. One workout will focus on the muscles that run down the front of your thighs; the other will target your lower back.

To replicate that regimen, you need to do the same thing. Start by running a half mile or so on a treadmill set at a very steep incline. A common incline used for training purposes is 7.5%. Not only is this a good, challenging incline, it will also help strengthen the muscles of your hips and legs.

Work on Speed

Building Speed is definitely an important quality to have in both running and riding when it comes to endurance events. If you fall behind other riders, you won’t be able to pedal at your normal cadence or will lose your momentum.

If you fall behind other runners, you won’t have the strength, speed or endurance to catch up.

But how can you build up your speed on the treadmill? One way to develop speed is to practice running strides.

A stride takes you from a slight sprint with all out effort to a fast, powerful stride.

The short burst of speed will apply to both running and riding.

Simply go all out in the sprint phase, get back into a comfortable stride, catch your breath and start again.

Coming out of the sprint phase, you will be forced to focus not just on cadence and power but also on running form and relaxation.

This will also help you develop a soft and strong landing of your feet.

As many strides as you can complete in the length of your training run will train you to maintain the speed over the duration of your run or ride.

Use It to Help Prevent Injuries

If you are training for a half marathon, you should do a few things to help ensure a strong and healthy performance. Full-body strength and agility training will make you a more efficient runner no matter what your main method of training is. These strength and agility will also help balance out your muscles and prevent potential injuries.

Strength training is very individual. You are ultimately the person who is going to feel the effects.

But there are some general rules most runners should follow.

Train using compound moves.

Compound moves that use more than one muscle group are better for preventing injuries than isolation moves do.

Isolation moves get you strong in certain individual muscles, but they don’t give your body the whole-different scenario.

Instead of doing a machine that isolates a specific muscle group, add exercises that use more muscles. So if you just started a new routine, incorporate exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups.

Exercises like that do not only help you get a leaner, stronger and healthier body but also help you get better at running.

Runners should also do more strength training if injuries are common.

Figure Out the Best Plan For You

Training for a half marathon requires steady commitment. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you’ll be putting in the miles, and every Tuesday and Thursday enjoying a bit of rest. It’s a bit different from training for a 5K, where most people will run multiple times a week, similar to how a race day consists of multiple bouts of racing.

Instead, your training program should be of a similar caliber to your race day training. During the training process, you’ll want to incorporate a variety of workouts including distance runs, tempo runs, hill runs and speed sessions.

For the most part, the standard for half marathon training programs is 16 weeks, which includes two weeks of tapering in the final week. On average, you’ll be doing two runs a day, alternating between distances from 5 to 7 miles. It’s also a good idea to include at least one day of rest each week.

Rest days are also useful for giving your body a rest from running. You’ll also build muscle tone, sprain prevention and mental health while spending your days relaxing. Luckily, with a treadmill, there are many ways you can incorporate different training programs.