Training for Half Marathon on A Treadmill – Everything You Should Know 

Preparing for half marathon is not an easy job. First, you need to make a training plan that will prepare you for the event. The approach to training depends on multiple factors, but some of the most important are current fitness level, running background and available time.

The aim of training plan is to build up your endurance for the race and keep you from injuries. It should also include eating plan in order to have enough energy to finish it.


However, even if you’ve mapped out a training plan, there can be some obstacles that are unavoidable. Bad weather can be a big limitation for people who prepare for the half marathon. Running in bad weather can cause injuries that will not only delay your training and plan but also make you drop out of the event.

There are also people who like to run and want to prepare for half marathon but are intimidated by outdoor running.  

Is there a solution for these obstacles when preparing for half marathon? Although many runners try to bash treadmills, they can be a good alternative for half marathon preparation. Join me as I discuss how to make the most out of a treadmill when preparing for half marathon and how to avoid its disadvantages.

Things you should know before starting your half marathon training

Proper preparation for half marathon requires many things to consider. First thing you should know is the duration of your preparation. Whatever fitness level you are, you usually need between 10 and 16 weeks to prepare properly for the half marathon. Only small percentage of people need less time. Some of them can even finish half marathon without any type of proper training plan. However, they are usually already physically active and mentally prepared in some way.

The next thing to do is to make a training plan. As I’ve previously mentioned, your plan depends on available time, fitness level and running background. In addition to building up your endurance, following an adequate plan will also help you track your progress and keep you motivated.

Don’t overtrain. Doing too much too soon will not only delay your progress, it will also put you at risk for sport injuries that could force you to give up. If you feel pain in joints or muscles, you should rest at least a day. Simple home methods like RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression and elevation) will get you back on track fast.

You should always have a meal plan along with a training plan for the half marathon. Together with proper training, healthy meals will build up your strength and prepare you for the half marathon better.

Proper footwear is another thing you should consider before preparing for a half marathon, even if you do it on a treadmill. If you’re not sure what type of shoes you should buy, I’ve made a list of best shoes for treadmill currently available on the market.

The advantages of training on a treadmill for half marathon

As I’ve previously mentioned, the preparation for half marathon should be at least 10 weeks before the event. Moreover, you should run almost every day. Running outdoors almost every day for more than a few weeks can be stressful for your muscles and joints. Hard and uneven outdoor surfaces will put you on a risk for various injuries.  This is where treadmills are especially helpful.

On the treadmill, you run on a flat belt with cushioning that is much better shock absorber than hard, uneven outdoor terrains. Better shock absorption means less strain on your joints and therefore less risk for sports injury.

Most half marathon tracks have parts that are uphill and downhill. If you live in an area with mostly flat outdoor terrains, preparing for these types of tracks can be challenging without a treadmill. Almost every treadmill has an option to change the incline. This way you will prepare for uphill parts of the track that you’re maybe unfamiliar with.

In the last couple of years, there have been many new, more advanced treadmills that can also do downhill trainings. Moreover, some of them allow you to create your own course and simulate the exact track you are training for. You can also choose a certain terrain and be better prepared for it.

The disadvantages of training on a treadmill for half marathon and how to avoid them

The first disadvantage is more connected to the gym you’re going at than treadmills. Most gyms have a time limit for cardio machines, treadmills included. That is why maybe you should consider buying your own, especially if you plan on doing long runs. I’ve already made a list of best treadmills under $500 that you should check.

It is true that treadmill running is easier than outdoor running. The reason for this is the absence of wind resistance that is present when you run outdoors. However, adding a small amount of incline on a treadmill will result in same oxygen consumption as outdoor running. Therefore, adding a certain amount of incline on your treadmill will make this type of running just as effective as outdoor running.

The moving belt of a treadmill can alter your normal running gait cycle and change your stride. Many people are running too close to the front of the treadmill because they are afraid that they will fall off of it. This way they are shortening their stride. On the other side, there are people who want to keep up with the belt, so they make their stride longer. You should avoid doing both.

When you run on a treadmill, the treadmill motor propels you by moving the ground for you. This results in lower usage of hamstring muscles that are important for lifting your leg while running. You can avoid this by doing strengthening exercises or cross training.

Unfortunately, treadmills don't give you the benefit of uneven terrain. Uneven surfaces are good for proprioception – knowing the position of body parts in space. In order to adapt to surfaces, joints and muscles are making small adjustments. These adjustments improve coordination and balance for running and other everyday activities.

How to improve your stamina, speed and strength for half marathon using treadmill

Building up your stamina is important part of a half marathon training. Without stamina, every mile of it will be painful. Starting your training with a run at your end goal pace, and then build up to running at your desired pace gradually.

Interval training will increase both your speed and overall fitness by making you more efficient and stronger. Most treadmills have pre-installed programs for various interval trainings that you can choose from. Moreover, these trainings will make running on a treadmill less boring and more exciting.

Treadmill also good for improving your muscle strength. Stamina and pace are nothing without proper muscle strength. Hill trainings with altering inclines are good for this. Just don’t change the incline too frequently because the treadmill needs time to readjust.

Some of the best treadmill workouts for half marathon

The following treadmill workouts will make the most out of treadmills and its advantages. The aim of these exercises is to improve almost every factor that is important for finishing up your race – pace, speed, stamina and muscle strength.

Tempo Running

Tempo running is one of the most important workouts for half marathon. The aim of this workout is to make you endure faster pace for a longer period of time. This is achieved by increasing the lactate threshold in your muscles. During muscle activity, the level of lactic acid in blood and muscles rise, causing discomfort and soreness.

  • ·         Warm up for 10 minutes with easy jogging.
  • ·         Run one to two miles at a comfortably hard pace that you can maintain.
  • ·         Cool down for 10 minutes with easy jogging.
  • ·         Add 1 mile every two weeks to comfortably hard pace period until you reach 8 to 10 miles.

Interval running

As I’ve previously mentioned, interval training will increase both your speed and overall fitness. Changing the pace will activate almost all muscle fibers, in comparison to usual running. Activation of most muscle fibers will make your muscle grow and improve strength.

  • ·         Warm up for 10 minutes
  • ·         Complete four sets of high intensity intervals at 10K pace for two minutes.
  • ·         Do two minutes of low intensity running in between sets.
  • ·         Cool down for 10 minutes
  • ·         Once you feel comfortable, increase the intervals from 2 minutes to 3 minutes, and decrease the recovery time to 90 seconds.

Hill-Like Running

Increasing the incline on a treadmill will not only make running more effective and harder, it will also improve your muscle strength.

  • ·         Warm up for 10 minutes
  • ·         Complete four sets of 60 seconds marathon pace running at a 5% grade
  • ·         After that do 90 seconds of easy jogging without incline.
  • ·         Run at your marathon pace for 45 seconds at a 6% grade
  • ·         Finish with 90 seconds of easy jogging without incline.
  • ·         Cool down for 10 minutes
  • ·         Add one set every week for and increase the time spent at incline by 30 seconds


Many people still question the effectiveness of training for half marathon on a treadmill in comparison to outdoor training. However, most of disadvantages can be avoided and there are various ways to make the most of a treadmill when preparing for half marathon.

I still recommend doing a couple of outdoor runs before the event. This way you will feel the influence of weather and harder, uneven surface that are unavoidable when doing the half marathon.  Those couple of outdoor runs will sure make your proprioception better, which is important in order to avoid injuries and prepare your muscles and joints for the big day.

I hope that with this text you’ve learned more about training for half marathon on a treadmill, its advantages and disadvantages and found out that it is possible to prepare for it without the need for frequent outdoor running.

Bella Williams

Hi! I'm Bella. I love running. I write this blog to share everyone about running.

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