A Treadmill Workout to Improve Your Mile Speed
  • October 26, 2016
  • The treadmill workout I’m about to lay out for you is different from anything I’ve ever done. I’ll be the first to admit I frequently look at workouts as my time to test the limits and to end huffing and puffing, feeling exhausted. I do this too frequently, probably. After a personal training assessment at Equinox (more to come on that) my coach gave me one takeaway to help me reach my goal of a faster mile: Do less.


    Come again? I don’t speak this language.

    I love making up interval workouts for myself and playing with different elements like length of interval, speed, hills and time of recovery.

    I’ve always made my goals to run faster at harder hill increments for longer – with less rest. So when my coach suggested a treadmill workout in which I allow myself twice as much recovery time as working time, I was skeptical.

    My coach challenged my to flip my perspective – push the boundaries during a 60-second all-out sprint and just drop down to at least a 5.5 MPH recovery speed for a full two minutes. After she said that this is how I’ll ultimately get faster – I decided to try it out. Low and behold, it was the most fun I’ve had on a treadmill in a while.

    Here’s why I loved it:

    1. It felt amazing to be able to hold a conversation during all of my rests.
    2. I loved feeling capable and strong, ready to sprint it out before each of my 60-second runs.
    3. I was still drenched in sweat and my legs were exhausted by the end of 8 rounds.
    4. It was a 30-minute workout in total.

    Want to give it a try? Here’s what you do:

    First, 3-5 minute warm-up somewhere between a brisk walk and light jog (I added in some butt kickers and high knees at a 5.0 speed)

    Then, 8 rounds of:

    • 60 seconds fast pace
    • Two full minutes at 5.5 speed (or lower)

    Finish with a 3-5 minute cool-down jog. That’s it!

    Here are some tips for success with this workout:

    • Don’t start your fast intervals at your max speed you can possibly run. Instead, think of some even increments to increase your sprint pace by each round. You can always choose not to add another sprint pace increment on, but by increasing slowly you’ll avoid overshooting your max capability and having to cut your minute short.
    • I did this by picking what I wanted my goal max 60-second sprint to be (a 10.0). Knowing that there are 8 rounds of sprints, I backed out of how fast to run each round to get a little faster each time. For me, this meant starting my sprint at an 8.6. (i.e. 1st sprint = 8.6, 2nd sprint = 8.8, 3rd sprint = 9.0 and so on.)
    • Even if you’re feeling pretty good in the first few rounds, still recover for the full two minutes – and stay consistent with your recovery speed. Whenever the little voice in my head told me “You can work a little harder, come on – make the most of your 30 minutes,” I had to force myself to stay at 5.5.
    • When you’re finished, foam roll, foam roll, foam roll.

    (Disclaimer: This workout is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor is it a replacement for seeking medical treatment or professional nutrition advice. Do not start any nutrition or physical activity program without first consulting your physician.)

    About Maggie Umberger

    Maggie moved to Chicago in 2014 from North Carolina, a proud Tar Heel at heart. She began her career in advertising but was equally passionate about her fitness endeavors, and ended up spending as much time instructing yoga and other types of fitness as much as in her advertising job. Now she works full-time with aSweatLife to continue to grow our community of amazing fellow fitness junkies in Chicago. And when she’s not running around with Jeana making #Sweatworking happen or instructing corporate and private yoga classes, you can find her leading bootcamp classes at ENRGi Fitness and vinyasa classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga and Yoga Six.