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Knowing What Speed To Use On Your Treadmill

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If you’re new to treadmill running, it can be tricky knowing treadmill speeds. Knowing what speed to set, when to vary your speed, and how to keep yourself safe on the treadmill are all important things to consider when jumping on, especially if you are a novice treadmill runner!

Tips for Treadmill Running

If you’re new to treadmill running, there are some basics to getting started. First, get to know the treadmill. If it’s your own, that’s pretty easy. Read the owner’s manual. You probably asked some questions before purchasing.

Familiarize yourself with the buttons, bells, and whistles.  If you have newly joined a gym, ask someone to assist you. The last thing you should be doing is trying to navigate button controls while running at full speed.

Just like when running outside, it is sound practice to warm up. You don’t just jump into spadework without some type of warm-up, do you? You should not try to move too quickly on a treadmill either without getting your body ready.

treadmill speeds explained
Life Fitness Equipment

You should also understand how miles per hour on the treadmill equates to how many minutes per mile you average on the street. If you are just running, you will probably find a comfortable setting for your “average run.”

If you’re doing spadework, you may have to do some track math before jumping on. Another option is to print a treadmill speed table for quick reference.

If you are hoping to replicate running outside, you should put your treadmill on an incline. Since the belt moves to assist you in moving along, you need at least some incline. Also, indoor running lacks hills, wind, and the elements. For this reason, you need incline to compensate.

You should never hold the sides when running on the treadmill. Instead, have your arms moving by your sides as they naturally do when running. If you have to hang on to the sides to feel safe, you are running too fast!

Next, pay attention to your stride. Some people find themselves running differently on a treadmill than they do outside. Try to replicate your normal running style.

running stride
Wire Cutter

If you want to be running properly, make sure you aren’t limiting or crunching up your stride. Many people find themselves bumping up against the bars in front of the treadmill. Using the whole belt is a good way to maintain proper form while running inside.

It is also a good practice not to get off or on the treadmill when it is running. If I need to jump off quickly, my personal practice is to put my feet on the stationary side rails. This enables me to stop the track from moving before getting off.

Treadmill Speeds

Treadmill speeds calculators will help you determine where to set your treadmill. If you are consistently running outside, you should have a ballpark number in your head on where to start. However, when choosing a pace, you should certainly consider the goal of the workout. Are you just trying to get time in?

treadmill pace calculator
Run To The Finish

If you’re just trying to sneak in 30 minutes of cardio, think about what that would look like if you were running outside. If you race a 5K in twenty-six minutes, and an easy run around your neighborhood takes about twenty-eight minutes for the same distance, try setting your treadmill to bring you to hit 9-minute miles. If you look at the pace calculator, that is roughly 6.6 with a 1%  incline.

If you find yourself struggling to acclimate to the treadmill, just slow it down a little (.1 or .2 on the treadmill may not translate to much difference in speed, but it may help you with perceived effort).

Vary Your Treadmill Workout

One downfall of the treadmill is it can be mind-numbing. While many people agree that a treadmill is an excellent tool for completing a workout in extreme temperatures, extreme weather, or when personal lives might otherwise get in the way, others find the toughest part is simply staying on the treadmill.

If you choose to run a three-mile loop once you are halfway there, you have to keep running to get home. Not so when running on a treadmill. If you’re on a treadmill, you can step off at any time.

treadmill workouts

One way to keep yourself engaged is to vary your workouts. First of all, running at a constant pace day after day leads to few gains. On the other hand, switching up your workouts is likely to help you reap multiple benefits as an athlete.


Pinterest offers many ways to vary your workout. Searching through them may not find the exact treadmill speeds you would want to run, but you can modify the numbers.

The point is that it gets you thinking about varying your speed to engage yourself in some interval training. When I choose one of these, I often rewrite the workout, changing the numbers to more accurately reflect my abilities. You can take personalize any workout to meet your own needs.

HIIT workout

Take the above workout, for example. It does not set any particular speed. You could set your sprint at 7.0, 8.0, or 9.0. Your active recovery could be walking at 4.0, jogging at 5.5, or running at 6.5. It all depends on your individual needs.

Nike Running Club App

One of my favorite ways to run intervals is with the help of the Nike Running Club App. This particular workout (pictured below) is one intended to be done on a treadmill, based on your perceived effort. As you can see, it does not give paces. It simply guides you through easy or hard intervals throughout the 29 minutes.

Nike run club app
Nike Running Club App

The next workout, Treadmills, is set based on pace. You will see that it asks you to run 10K pace, 5K pace, and mile pace, all at different inclines. You will have to break out your pace chart to determine your speed setting as you hammer through the sets of this workout.

treadmills workout

You’re Ready To Roll

The long and short of it is that there aren’t simple “one size fits all” answers saying what treadmill speeds your treadmill should be set to. Many factors are coming into play, ranging from your experience and comfort on a treadmill to your workout goal.

One thing is certain if you are turning to a treadmill as a tool to building for maintaining fitness, there are plenty of resources out there! Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you transition into this new part of your fitness journey!

Whether you are just starting with C25K (couch to 5K), training for a 5K, or working your way through miles in preparation for a marathon, you may find having a treadmill at your disposal gives you an edge.




  1. John Honerkamp, 14 Tips for Treadmill Running , Online Magazine
  2. Simon Gould, How Fast Should I Run On A Treadmill?, Online Magazine

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