How to Do a Long Run on the Treadmill

Well, kids, it can be done! I have a new personal distance record–16 miles pounded out on the treadmill of all places! And I’ve gotta tell ya, it really wasn’t all that bad!


The game plan was to turn on Food Network, crank up my iPod, and pound out the miles. I decided to take Megan‘s suggestion to divide up the run into segments, running 7 miles first, then 5, then 4 to round it out. To make it bearable, I did a few things:

1. Varied speeds

Multi speed vibrating massager

I looked up multiple speeds and this is what came up. No joke.

I wanted to keep my speed pretty consistent, but I knew I’d need to vary it a little bit to keep my knees from getting too sore. I started out at 7.0, then ran most of the way at 7.2, taking it down to 7.1 or 7.0 when my knees felt off or I got a little tired. Then, I did the last mile at 7.3. Just because I knew I could. It was hard, but I did it. What can I say? I like to push myself! πŸ˜‰

2. Hills

Hill interval 300x224

I know. No one wants to see hills on a 16 mile run, especially not on the treadmill. But I knew if I left the incline at 0 the entire time, my knees, shins, hips, well, everything basically, would rebel. At first, my idea was to run at 0.5 for 5 minutes, then 1.0 for 5 minutes, then 1.5 and so on. Well, that wasn’t going to work. I felt winded right away and knew I’d have to pace myself. Instead, I decided to run a hill during every commercial break. So in between short ribs and upside down cakes and sweet potato bisque, I ran hills. Here’s how that looked:

Commercial #1 0.5 incline

Commercial #2 1.0 incline

Commercial #3 1.5 incline

Commercial #4 2.0 incline

Commercial #5 2.5 incline

Commercial #6 3.0 incline

Commercial #7 3.5 incline

Commercial #8 4.0 incline–I only did this once. The world’s longest Quicken Loans commercial tortured me, and itΒ sucked.

Then right back down to the flat once the commercials were over. I let myself recover a bit in between, and I think it made a HUGE difference in how my knees felt. They didn’t get sore AT ALL. Miraculous.

3. Slowing down!

Big daddy

Does anyone else remember the “Slow down!” scene from Big Daddy? No? OK.

Whenever my knee started to feel the tiniest bit off, I backed off on my speed. The goal was to finish, not to be fast, and finish I did. No shame in slowing down!

4. Fuel


I had some shot blocks before I ran, then had half a Gu at 7 miles and the other half at 12, which I liked. Spacing it out was definitely a good idea. I dropped the ball, however, when it came to water. For some reason, my water bottle was only half full when I started running, and I definitely needed more water. Stupid, but I got through it.

5. Towel

Sweat towel

I just feel sorry for this chick. Seriously–what is up with this picture???

Despite the sub-zero temps outside, I was drenched within minutes inside the gym. I had a towel, but I probably could have used a fresh one halfway through. I’ll remember that next time.

6. Positive self-talk


I wasn’t hurting much at all through the run, but I still started to doubt myself around the 13th mile, which is odd, given that I’ve run 13 miles plenty of times before. I talked myself through it, remembering that I’ve run 15 before, and surely I could make it one extra mile. And sure enough, I did. I think a little self-doubt creeping in is normal, and that’s exactly what I told myself when it happened. It worked!

Thanks to everyone who gave me tips on what to do! I couldn’t have done it without you!!

What’s the furthest you’ve run on the treadmill? Do you love the treadmill (I kinda do!) or hate it?


22 thoughts on “How to Do a Long Run on the Treadmill

  1. My kudos. 16 is my max on a treadmill, too. I was once told by a Running Room clinic that, because I ran on a treadmill during winters (i am in Winnipeg, Canada where temps can dip down to -40F), I wasn’t a real runner–I politely told her that a runner is a runner no matter where they run. In the end, I think she said it simply because she didn’t like that I was faster than her. πŸ˜‰

    • I can’t believe someone would say that! Talk about rude!!! There’s no way I’d go out in those temps, either! At least you saw through it;)

      Connected by DROID on Verizon Wireless

    • I can’t believe they said that to you! Running at 10-15 degrees is about as cold as I can take, but if it’s icy at all I go to the treadmill instead of risking injury. You’re a runner whether you’re on the road or a treadmill.

  2. Congrats for making 16…AND on a treadmill. I finished 15 miles yesterday… furthest distance. My whole body rebeled at around 13 1/2. Made it though!

  3. Great tips. I’ll keep them in mind as I work on increasing my mileage. This weekend I ran 3.5 miles at 1.0 incline and had no knee or shin pain, which is great. The longest I’ve gone on the treadmill is 3.5 this past weekend- a far cry from 16! I’m glad your run was successful!

  4. Great treadmill run!! I love the idea of throwing hills in the mix. How’d your knees feel afterwards? I’ll be doing a lot of my long runs on the treadmill too. I don’t want to lose a toe or finger!! The cold scares me!

    • You know, they feel fine! Shockingly fine. It only really hurt when I stopped running, and even then, I was just tired, but not sore. I think the hills made a HUGE difference. Another thing to keep in mind is that the treadmill doesn’t compensate for hills–so basically when you’re running a hill on the treadmill, you’re actually running a little bit faster pace. I’m not sure exactly how that all shakes out, but I know it factors in somehow!

  5. Just wandered across your blog and found this post inspirational! I cannot run in the cold either- same problem with my hands (and feet). PS- I was “diagnosed” with Raynaud’s Syndrome… if you Google it you will get some very scary pictures but I know it was comforting to me to know I was not the only one with freakish hands…
    Best of luck with marathon training!!

    • Hi Jess! Thanks so much for the comment! πŸ™‚

      I have Raynaud’s, too, so I’m a real living version of those scary pics! It’s more annoying than anything, but I hate when I get SUPER cold and then they burn when the circulation returns. That’s no fun AT ALL!!

  6. Congratulations on making it 16 miles, especially on a treadmill! It sounds like you figured out some fantastic ways to make this a more tolerable experience, and I’ll have to give some of the them a try!

  7. If I had to do incline during commercials, I would make sure I watched something without commericals. haha, Man, that would tire me out. But I’ve done 14 miles. I had to vary speeds too. I watched a couple movies because I get tired of music a lot when I’m running. I don’t think I was really in the mood to run when I did it though, so I’m sure it could have gone better!

  8. Yay for 16 miles!!! And on a treadmill? You’re a super star. I think the max I could probably do on a treadmill is 10 — maybe 12. Of course, at that point I’d probably say “What’s 4 more miles??” so maybe it’s not all that nutso. Better than the cold, right??

    Love your solution for hills! I’m sure you dreaded the commercials even more!

  9. Ooooh when did you change up the blog?? I like πŸ™‚

    The longest was 20, but there was a small break in between. I had 20 on the schedule and ran 7 right before running a half marathon. Unfortunately, once I got to the race it ended up getting cancelled so I headed back to the gym for the final 13. That was a longgg day…

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