Can You Train For A Marathon On A Treadmill?

Marathoners love to train every day. However, the external environment is not always favorable for them.

Exercising outdoors in the rain or the dark carries risks, and many believe they can run indoors using a cross-trainer.

Can you train for a marathon on a treadmill? The treadmill is a useful piece of equipment for running. Many people use this method when stuck at home.

The article will go into depth analysis of this topic. Let’s find out!

Can You Train For A Marathon On A Treadmill? 

Side view of two attractive sports women on a running track

Side view of two attractive sports women on a running track

Yes, you can do marathon training on a treadmill. In fact, many runners have successfully completed most of their running exercises at home.

Indoor marathons can be helpful when the weather outside doesn’t allow you to exercise, for example, when it’s snowing or raining.

Many people find long-term indoor training quite boring and tiring. So, change your running environment often.

The key to an effective and quality training regimen is to adjust the settings to simulate the external marathon environment.

Pros And Cons Of Treadmill Training 

Running on a treadmill at home

Running on a treadmill at home


Treadmill training helps prepare you mentally and physically for marathons in several ways.

You can’t exercise outdoors in all situations. Bad weather or a cold climate can suppress your enthusiasm.

Most marathons take place in warm weather. Practicing at room temperature will help you better acclimate to these weather conditions.

Indoor workouts also allow you to try on a variety of outfits to gauge how comfortable they are. It will be very inconvenient when they interfere with your run on an important day.

Using cross-trainers for training can also provide some other interesting benefits for marathoners. These include:

  • Practice time: Practicing with a cross-trainer at home will help you have more practice time. However, do not cling to the handrail!
  • Mental preparation: Using the treadmill can be quite boring, but it helps you mentally prepare for the important races.
  • Convenience: You can use home jogging equipment whenever you have free time. Parents will not worry about looking after the house or children.
  • Safety: Running outside in the dark or early morning can pose risks. Instead, it’s much safer to practice indoors.
  • Real-world stimulus: Treadmills have many different training modes. You can combine them to simulate real-world conditions better.
  • Pacesetting: Cross-trainers allow you to set specific speeds and timelines to track your running progress.


However, training on this device still has its limitations. Before becoming too dependent on the treadmill, pay attention to the following factors.

Firstly, you may be limited in the amount of time you exercise when using equipment at the gym. The centers will only allow 30 to 60 minutes per person.

This limit is not too significant for those who have just started training. However, you need to run more to increase endurance before entering the competition.

If you have a treadmill at home, skip this problem. Secondly, most cross-trainers don’t have a downhill setting. It makes it impossible to practice running downhill.

Running downhill forces the body to use different muscles than uphill. The way your feet rub against the road is also different.

Finally, indoor training cannot simulate the outside environment accurately, such as obstacles or curves.

5 Tips For Training Marathon On A Treadmill 

If you want to use the treadmill to exercise most effectively, follow the tips.


Most experts recommend users set the treadmill 1% incline to best simulate the real outdoor environment.

The 0% tilt is too flat, and the surface is not realistic. If you train in a mode like this, it will be more difficult to participate in the official race.

Instead, try to find a way to show the difference in the outdoor terrain to get used to.

While running a marathon outside may seem like training on flat ground, the smallest changes, like incline or altitude, make a difference.

The actual running track surface is also not smooth. It has a lot of traces and collision tracks that will give you a different feeling than a cross-trainer.

If you want to prepare for a more successful marathon, try increasing the difficulty by setting the incline between 2-3%.

This strengthening aims to prepare the runner’s fitness and endurance for higher performance.

Speed Workout

One of the most prominent advantages of using a treadmill is that users can clearly understand their training progress. You can read all the data on the device.

Some products also allow users to set up specific exercise regimens according to individual needs. All you need to do is select and run!

Some exercises that you should refer to are:

Progressive Tempo

This tempo workout will train your body to be more resilient to running marathons for long periods. At the same time, it develops your lactate threshold.

  • Warm-up gently for 5 minutes with 1-3% incline.
  • Run a 15-minute marathon with a 3% incline.
  • Halve the speed and run for 10 minutes at a 3% incline.
  • Run at 10km for 5 minutes at a 3% incline.
  • Finish gently for 5 minutes with 1-3% incline.


The interval training pattern is a standard marathon exercise. Fortunately, it is highly compatible with treadmills.

  • Run a 10-minute warm-up at 1-3% incline.
  • Run at 5 km for 6 x 3 minutes at a 3% incline. Between sets, walk for 90 seconds to relax.
  • Run for 5 minutes with a slope of 1-3%.

Pyramid Workout

The hill exercises are the perfect choice to improve the endurance and flexibility of the legs.

  • Run a 10-minute warm-up at 1-3% incline.
  • Run 2-minute sessions at 5km with an incline of 6, 8, 10, 12, 10, 8, 6%, respectively. Between reps, do a 60-second recovery walk at a 1% incline.
  • Run for 5 minutes with an incline of 1-3%.

Running Technique

There are a few running techniques that you should keep in mind to make indoor training easier. 

Ensure A Vast Space

Do not run too close to the main panel of the device, as it will limit your running space. It prevents you from rotating your arms naturally and causes tension in your shoulders.

If you feel the need to run ahead to avoid falling out of range, use an extra measure like the clip-on safety cord.

Keep Your Eye On

Many runners often look down at their feet when jogging. As a result, their heads and backs are low, and their posture distorts.

When training for a marathon, always keep your head up and look straight ahead. You can look down at your TV from time to time to check your readings, but it should only be for a few seconds.

You should also look for devices with straight screens. Placing the monitor sideways can cause you to lose your balance and fall when trying to follow it.

Please refer to the video below for the most suitable running posture.

Notice Your Footfall

Listen to your footsteps as you land. Using a cross-trainer is a unique opportunity to do this.

Your goal is to have short, light strides. If your stride is heavy and large, increase the tempo with shorter, faster strides.

Practice Your Pace

Endurance on long runs is crucial to your success in the race. To judge and calculate your performance, determine a specific pace.

Many marathoners have the habit of finishing long runs in a short time. However, it carries potential risks of injury from overexertion.

To aid in training, use a cross-trainer with specific speed settings.

Long Marathon Training

You will encounter many different sounds and images that keep your brain distracted when running outside. This busyness helps the practice go by quickly.

However, on the treadmill, boredom sets in quickly. In that situation, you can take another method of listening to music while practicing.

You will always have nutritious food and drinks at your fingertips when working out at home.

For those who have to run for a long time outdoors, you need to bring food to provide nutrition.

Things To Avoid 

Choosing the right shoes

Choosing the right shoes

Even professional athletes can make some mistakes that cause injury or affect training progress. Avoid these actions when using a cross-trainer:

Choose Wrong Shoes

Choose shoes specifically designed for running. You should look for products with specialized soles to support your heels and feet during exercise.

Run Barefoot

The treadmill’s surface is quite rough to keep your soles firmly in place during exercise and for better balance.

If you run barefoot on this device, it will easily blister and swell, causing discomfort.

In addition, the soles of the feet are easy to sweat. Allowing sweat to come into contact with device surfaces presents hygiene risks.

Worse, you are putting yourself in danger because sweaty soles are very slippery. Be careful because you can fall at any time.

Stick To The Same Routine

Although training on the same regimen will help the body get used to it faster, it is not practical when participating in races.

The outside environment has different obstacles and terrain. So, regularly refresh your exercise regimen to practice comprehensively.


A treadmill is an effective solution for those who cannot exercise outdoors in inclement weather or when busy.

However, you need to adjust to simulate the real world, like incline settings or running speed. This preparation helps you to participate in the race comfortably.

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