5 Essential Tips for Indoor Marathon Training

Running indoors is never really the ideal. When possible, athletes and endurance runners want to be on the roads and trails, getting the true experience of putting foot to pavement. But there are times when indoor training may be your only option. Usually, it's because the weather may be too cold or hazardous to allow for outdoor exercise.

For new runners, sometimes running outdoors can be intimidating, too. A treadmill can provide a sense of security in the beginning, and there’s no shame in that.

When you have a race coming up in the spring or summer, you can’t afford to skip training days, either. So, whether you’re firing up the treadmill at home or hitting your local gym, there are certain strategies you can employ to get the most out of your indoor marathon training experience.

Don’t miss out on these tips.


5 Tips to Make Indoor Marathon Training Worthwhile

1) Cross-train

While you’re at the gym and hitting the treadmill, it is an ideal opportunity to cross-train. Cross-training is an often-overlooked but essential part of reaching your full running potential. It helps you strengthen muscles that are usually ignored by runners, strengthening joints and your whole body so that it can be in optimal condition to support the act of running.

Some great exercises? Rowing, spinning, and intensive cardio like jumping jacks and lunges. Don’t neglect weight training, either. It will help reduce your risk of injury and build muscle strength to help support endurance. If you alternative high-intensity weight training with cardio, you’ll get the best of both exercises!  

2) Interval Training

Intervals are a crucial part of marathon training when you’re running on the treadmill. Most treadmills will have programmed interval presets that you can choose, changing your running speed and incline every few minutes of your run. What this does is helps you build your endurance and running speed. For you, this ultimately culminates in a faster running time come race day.   

3) Perfect Your Form

For many, running on a treadmill can seem like a monotonous experience. It doesn’t have to be. Because you are in a stationary position and not having to watch out for your surroundings, this is an ideal opportunity to perfect your form. Your running form is vital to preventing injury and maximizing endurance. The more practice you can get in the better: and there’s really no better chance to do so than while on the treadmill.

Recognize the Variables

Running in a stationary setting versus in an on-the-ground race creates a vastly different experience. That should be no surprise. There are specific variables that every runner who trains indoors should be aware of, however. One is a lack of wind resistance. When you run outdoors, wind resistance is almost always present. Therefore, running indoors tends to be a lot easier. As a result, many runners will complain that running on a treadmill makes them slower when the moment of truth comes.

Not necessarily!

You can compensate for that lack of resistance by adding a slight incline (between 1.0 and 2.0) and changing it every now and then.

Another variable is surface texture. Remember, running on a treadmill is never the same as running on the ground. If you can run outdoors, do so. The more you can experience real runs, the better: though there are some benefits to treadmill running.

4) Buddy Up

Grabbing a gym buddy can be a lot easier than finding a running buddy. You don’t have to worry about having to stick to the same running pace if you’re at a different point in your training, but you can still find encouragement and accountability at the gym. Side-by-side treadmills, weight training together, or just agreeing to be at the gym at the same time can just the boost you need. Whatever it is, having a buddy can help you keep your training on schedule and your spirits up.

5) Visualize Your Race

Some will claim that running on a treadmill is boring. And yes, it can be. But it certainly doesn’t have to be. One great exercise you can do while you marathon train is to visualize your upcoming race. While working up to a big race with a large mile count, especially one you have never accomplished before, it can be tough to wrap your head around. As you run on a treadmill, visualize it. Put that image in your mind and go through the route in your head. It will help you get there and begin to prepare for the task.

While training indoors for a marathon is not ideal, it can come with distinct benefits for endurance runners. Don't write off the experience. The gym offers some great opportunities to get a leg up on the competition—whether you're trying to get ahead of the pack or beat your best time.