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I’m so excited about your decision to try the treadmill

Congratulations on deciding to get on the treadmill! There are countless jokes referencing how boring it can be… but I totally don’t get it. I LOVE the treadmill. It’s literally my favorite.

You’ll love it too! Or at least, even if you never fall in love with the machine itself I’m pretty sure I can promise you that you’ll love the way it makes you feel. Do we even need to talk about all the ways cardio can benefit you? It even helps with my anxiety!

Something to help you set the pace and track the minutes, a foolproof way to monitor your progress, an indoor workout for cold days (or hot days), the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have when you get off… and an investment that guilts you into working out – (paying for the gym or paying for the treadmill, those are both equally motivational)! What’s not to love?

Get on and go!

So between you and me, I firmly believe that when it comes to cardio any workout is better than no workout. For the first few weeks, if you have no idea what you’re doing but you finish off all sweaty with your heart going fast – I think you’re winning.

(Unless you’re hurting yourself somehow, then perhaps that’s not true. But here you are, researching what you’re getting yourself into, so you should be ok! When I started running, I didn’t want to invest too much money into it until I knew it was something I was going to be committed to and I actually gave myself stress fractures and shin splints by wearing bad shoes. I tired SO MANY things to fix the pain in my legs and even spent 200 bucks on a trainer who told me to buy new shoes. I got these shoes, my legs healed and my running improved in a matter of weeks! Seriously, just buy good shoes.)

Start slow if you’ve never done any running before, (I have a post on what you should know to start working out, if you need to read some more). If you’re new to the treadmill, or cardio in particular, It won’t take long to get your heart rate up even if you go slow! Make sure you warm up those legs.

But have a plan

My biggest mistake (next to bad shoes) when I started running was not having a plan. I figured I’d run till I got tired and then I’d get off. While you CAN do that, it’s wasn’t really conducive to an awesome work out. Why? Well, because I’d never done it before and about 3 minutes at the slowest “run” was enough to wipe me out.

If you’ve ever heard of the couch to 5k or similar programs, you’ll know that they have a super specific plan. It’s one of the reasons that people have success with them. I’ve never used couch to 5k, but if it looks like something your interested in, then go for it!

But couch to 5k is not the only way! My goal has never been to run a 5k. I could run a 5k now, if I wanted to. I don’t though.

I got a great tip from a friend when I started – never, ever, workout at minimum incline. Even if you just bump it up to 1%, you’ll still be giving yourself a boost. I say go for 2% at all times!

My favorite beginner treadmill workouts

Here are the plans that worked for me while I was getting goin’ – I’m sure they could work for you too! Try to get on the treadmill 3 or 4 times per week, preferably no more than 2 days in a row. Adjust the speeds to whatever you’re comfortable with. Your “jog” should feel slightly challenging but you should be able to speak. Your “run” can be all out, as long as you can sustain it for a full minute. It shouldn’t make you feel sick!

Get yourself an awesome playlist (I have this itty bitty ipod shuffle, which is perfect for running), and have fun!

For the first month or two:

5 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline (warm-up)

2 min – jog   (speed 5.0-6.0) @ 2% incline (get going)
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline (rest)
1 min – run  (speed 6.0-7.0) @ 2% incline (go harder)
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline (recover)
↓  Now repeat
2 min – jog   (speed 5.0-6.0) @ 2% incline
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline
1 min – run  (speed 6.0-7.0) @ 2% incline
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline
2 min – jog   (speed 5.0-6.0) @ 2% incline
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline
1 min – run  (speed 6.0-7.0) @ 2% incline
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline
2 min – jog   (speed 5.0-6.0) @ 2% incline
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline
1 min – run  (speed 6.0-7.0) @ 2% incline
1 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 2% incline

5 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline (cool down)

As you progress, try adding 30 sec. every week to every “jog” interval to increase your endurance. When you reach 5 minute jog intervals, move on to the next work out!

For the next month:

5 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline (warm-up)

6 min – jog        (speed 5.5-6.5) @ 2% incline     (endurance)
1 min – sprint    (speed 6.5-7.5) @ 2.5% incline  (bump it up)
3 min – recover (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline     (recover)
↓now repeat
6 min – jog        (speed 5.5-6.5) @ 2% incline
1 min – sprint    (speed 6.5-7.5) @ 2.5% incline
3 min – recover (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline
6 min – jog        (speed 5.5-6.5) @ 2% incline
1 min – sprint    (speed 6.5-7.5) @ 2.5% incline
3 min – recover (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline
6 min – jog        (speed 5.5-6.5) @ 2% incline
1 min – sprint    (speed 6.5-7.5) @ 2.5% incline
3 min – recover (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline

5 min – walk (speed 3.0-3.5) @ 5% incline (cool down)

Once you can complete this work out pretty easily, it’s time to really start challenging yourself. Look for interval workouts that vary the incline and speed often, and throw in a “slow steady run” once every couple weeks to help you develop real endurance (just in case you ever do wanna do that 5k).

beginner treadmill workouts