5 Treadmill Workouts for Ultra Marathon Training

Valentine’s Day is almost here!  Today’s Friday Five linkup is all about love.  There are so many things I could have written about: products, vegan foods, or running related loves of mine.  But, with the snowpocalypse today in Chicago, I am once again running on the treadmill.  So I’m choosing to write about my winter love, the treadmill.   I’m linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy to bring you this post:  5 Treadmill Workouts for Ultra Marathon Training that you will love!  The love part is totally subjective.

 

 

You either love the treadmill or hate it.  Personally, I LOVE it because it enables me to train all year round and to simulate the elevation that I don’t get here in Chicago.  This is key for training for a trail ultra marathon, or any hilly race for that matter. Plus, running on the treadmill means WAY less laundry!  Just shorts and a t-shirt compared with bajillions of base layers, buffs, gloves, pants, jackets and socks.

 

I incorporate these 5 treadmill workouts in my ultra marathon training, all to a varying degree.  These treadmill workouts are great for marathon training too, especially if you’ll be competing in a hilly marathon.   Tweak these workouts to fit your needs, but I would highly recommend adding them in to your workout routines.  To determine paces and the equivalent pace at an incline on a treadmill, I use the chart from HillRunner.com.

 

5 treadmill workouts for ultra marathon training

 

1. The “Hilly Treadmilly”

15 min warmup

1 min 6% moderate effort, 1 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

2 min 6% moderate effort, 2 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

3 min 6% moderate effort, 3 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

4 min 6% moderate effort, 4 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

5 min 6% moderate effort, 5 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

4 min 6% moderate effort, 4 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

3 min 6% moderate effort, 3 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

2 min 6% moderate effort, 2 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

1 min 6% moderate effort, 1 min 0.5% recovery easy pace

10 min cool down

 

This is a great hilly treadmill workout to practice rolling hills and some steady climbs.  This workout is purely about working on a hilly terrain with longer and longer inclines. During training, I typically set the easy pace to 7.0 mph and slow down the 6% incline to 6.5 – 6.0 mph.  While I technically am never going past my long run easy pace, the incline makes it feel like I’m working in a higher zone, hence the “moderate effort.”  Throughout training, I will change the incline, increasing up to 12% at times.



2. Hut, Hut, Hike!

15 min warmup

5+ miles with .75 miles at 2% incline, long run pace and .25mi at a 15% incline power hiking.

10 min cool down

 

Practicing power hiking on a treadmill is essential for any trail ultra marathon.  It develops hamstring and glute strength that you will need to get you to the top.  Yes, walking and power hiking is part of an ultra marathon. Being able to do it quickly and efficiently can help you save your legs and pass a lot of people.  In my practice, this treadmill workout looks like  6.7 – 7.0 mph for the long run pace and a 4.0 for the hiking.

 

 

3. Descending Tempo Burn

15 min warmup

3 miles @ 1%, half marathon pace

.75 mi @ 6%, moderate effort

.25 mi @ 2%, easy effort

2 miles @ 1%, 10-15 seconds faster than half marathon pace

.75 mi @ 6%, moderate effort

.25 mi @ 2%, easy effort

1 mile @ 1%, increase another 10-15 seconds faster

10 min cool down

 

This treadmill workout layers in longer tempo efforts with hills.  It’s more on the speed end of the spectrum than the elevation training.  By shortening the distance but increasing the speed you maintain the intensity and challenge.  That last mile, WOOF.  For me, the half marathon pace would be an 8.7 – 8.5 on the treadmill, the moderate pace a 6.5, and then 7.0 for easy pace.  Play around with what feels best for you, both in terms of incline and speed.  The goal being to make the moderate effort challenging but doable.  Here’s the link for determining paces on treadmills.

 

4. Hilly Fartlek Climb

15 min warmup

.25 mi @1%, half marathon pace,  .25 mi @4%, moderate effort

.5 mi @1%, half marathon pace, .25mi @4%, moderate effort

.75 mi @1%, half marathon pace, .25mi @4%, moderate effort

1 mi @1%, half marathon pace, .25mi @4%, moderate effort

10 min cool down

 

You can repeat that fartlek as much as necessary for your mileage for the day.  I like this treadmill workout because even though the speed portions get longer, they actually feel easier when you come down from the hill.  It accurately simulates cresting a hill and descending the other side in my experience.  For me, the half pace is typically 8.5-8.7mph and the 4% moderate effort is usually 7.0 ish.

 

5. Everest

15 min warmup

5 – 10+ miles rolling hills: [.25 @ 2% easy pace, .25 @ 6% moderate effort, .25 @ 4% easy pace, .25 @ 12% moderate effort]

10 min cool down

 

This workout is just purely about training for elevation.  It simulates rolling hills with some steeper inclines. Change up the paces, inclines or distances as you see fit.  I love this workout for a long run or a midweek distance.  Easy pace I set between 7.0 – 7.5, moderate between 5.0 – 6.5.  This is one of those “turn on a Netflix series and get comfortable” workouts because it takes a while.  But the fitness gains are worth it.

 

ECS 50k, 2017. 4th place female, 26 min PR

 

These are 5 treadmill workouts I love to do when training for an ultra marathon or hill race.  When I incorporated the treadmill into my weekly runs, I improved my 50k time by over 20 minutes.  Vary the speed, distance and inclines, but I definitely suggest adding treadmill workouts into your training cycle.

 

Are you on team treadmill or dreadmill?  What are some of the treadmill workouts you love to do?  If you do one of these workouts I’d love to hear about it!  Tag me, on Instagram or Facebook and let me see how you use the treadmill in your ultra or marathon training!  Be sure to check out my coaching page and past training cycle recaps if you’re interested in more.  

 

Happy running,

Becca

 

 

 

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4 Comments on "5 Treadmill Workouts for Ultra Marathon Training"

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Kimberly Hatting
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I’m on the dreadmill team. I can handle the ‘mill for nothing longer than 5-6 miles. Intervals are my preferred ‘mill experience because they’re short and sweet.

Lisa
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These look like great workouts! I just got a treadmill last month and its been so great to have in the winter. Im excited that I will now be able to run no matter what the conditions are outside!

Fairytales and fitness
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I’m all about the treadmill workouts lately!

Hannah
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I am super impressed by your long treadmill runs, since I’m team dreadmill. The longest I can handle on a treadmill is about 4 miles. I do try to get in some (short) steep hill runs on the treadmill weekly though – since the steep hills outdoors are too slick to move very fast.