How to Train for a Half Marathon with a Treadmill

Training for a half marathon can be challenging.

The biggest challenge for most people has nothing to do with developing the endurance to complete a half marathon. Probably many times more people are capable of developing this endurance than the number who believe that they can.

No, the biggest challenge to training for a half marathon is incorporating the training into a busy schedule.

  • If you work directly with a coach, then some of your workout time is dependent on his or her availability.
  • If you run or walk with a group training program, then some of your workout time is dependent on the program's schedule.
  • If you run or walk outside, then you may have to fit some of your workouts around daylight hours (if you are concerned about safety), around night hours (if you are avoiding the heat of the sun), or around weather (if you live in a stormy climate).

So a treadmill could be your best solution to the challenge of incorporating training for a half marathon into your busy schedule.

But here are some issues to consider when contemplating training for a half marathon on a treadmill.

Issue #1 – Lack of Realism.

If you are training for a home-town half marathon, then there is nothing as realistic as training on the same roads on which the half marathon will be held.

And training on the roads in your home town can still provide a fairly realistic preparation for many out-of-town marathons.

Treadmills can never match roads for sudden changes in inclination, either. Instead, you must wait several seconds for a treadmill's inclination to change.

Wind on the road or trail — especially wind that varies quite a bit — is another factor that is difficult to imitate with treadmill training.

Training on a treadmill probably cannot match training in most levels of relative humidity, either

And think of flowers, fresh pizza, or other sources of aroma that you can encounter while training outdoors that you will never encounter while training on a treadmill.

You must decide whether you can handle this lack of realism that can come from training on a treadmill.

Issue #2 – Boredom.

The scenery never changes on a treadmill. Of course, you can stare at a TV monitor on which you are viewing changing scenes. But there is an ennui to training on a treadmill that is much less likely with training outdoors.

You must decide whether you can handle this potential for boredom that can come from training in this way.

Issue #3 – Lack of Camaraderie.

If you train outdoors, then you have at times the company of your coach, fellow members of your group training program, or other runners or walkers you encounter along your routes — especially if you train in a public park.

In contrast, if you train with a treadmill, then you are either at home or at a gym. And while a gym can have many fellow runners or walkers training on adjacent treadmills, it is difficult to have a group conversation or sometimes even hear above the din of the treadmill motors and belts well enough to have a one-on-one conversation. But minimal or no conversation means minimal or no camaraderie.

You must decide whether you can handle this lack of camaraderie that can come from training on a treadmill.

One More Thing

Knowing about training alternatives such as using a treadmill to train for a half marathon is only part of the key to your happiness as an endurance runner or walker.

I have created a FREE training guide to happiness for endurance runners and walkers, and I want you to have it.

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2 thoughts on How to Train for a Half Marathon with a Treadmill

    1. John, given how little time you have to train for your half marathon, I recommend that you follow the nine-week half-marathon training program at,7120,s6-238-244-258-6851-0,00.html. It is intended for training on the road, but you should be able to adapt it for training on your treadmill. However, I would strongly suggest that you spend SOME time on the road to get your body acclimated to road running as opposed to treadmill running, given that a treadmill can NEVER fully mimic road conditions. Please come back here and post a comment about how your half marathon went! Best wishes for your training and your half marathon!

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