If you’re a runner you no doubt know a lot about treadmills. Running is a great way to get in shape, and it’s especially beneficial if you vary your routine. But if you always run on a treadmill, you might not be getting the most out of your workout. It’s normal for a runner to wonder if you can run too much on a treadmill.
While treadmill running is easier on the body than road running, you can still run too much on a treadmill. The same considerations need to be taken for treadmill running as running outside including proper rest, recovery, warm-up and cool down and stretching. It’s more forgiving but still potentially an issue.
There are several concerns with overdoing it on a treadmill, but we will look at three of the most common: lack of proper warmup and cooldown, not enough recovery time (especially when running two times per day), and not properly hydrating and fueling your body.
How Can You Run Too Much on a Treadmill?
There are several ways to find yourself in a situation where you are running too much on a treadmill. The first way is to try to do too many sessions per week, or per day when your body can’t recover. This is common among people who are newer to running and want to lose weight and get healthy.
While it’s admirable to be on fire for health, sometimes that zest can start to cause problems that are detrimental to your long-term goals. If your goal is to lose 10lbs in the next two months, and you start off running for two hours per day, you will make progress. But, when you develop pain and can’t run a week in, and have to take a week off, your progress will be lost.
The point is: take your time, use a plan that makes sense, and make consistent, steady progress towards your goal. Picking the right speed for your workouts is critical as well – too fast and you’ll burn out, too slow and the process will take a while. Taking all of this into consideration is the best way to get there and will help to prevent injury. It’s also always a good idea to have the right equipment for the job.
Not Enough Recovery Time
The body needs time to recover from exercise. Recovery needs vary based on the intensity of exercise, condition of the exercise (people used to resistance training will recover faster from it than someone doing it for the first time), and process after the exercise to aid in recovery. If you are doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to get faster, you may need more recovery time than if you’re just walking or slowly jogging.
Other factors that can influence recovery are sleep, nutrition, and hydration. Being dehydrated will drastically affect your athletic performance whether it’s playing basketball or running on a treadmill. The same goes for nutrition. If you aren’t getting enough calories, and nutrients, recovery will be stalled drastically. Finally, sleep is also critical. Living in a constant state of being sleep-deprived will not help anyone reach their fitness goals.
Picking the right speed for your fitness level is very important. Another key component to recovery is properly warming up, cooling down, and stretching or foam rolling. It’s also important to not overdue it and run too much.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Another way you might overdo it on a treadmill is by not properly warming up or cooling down. Just because the treadmill is somewhat more forgiving doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous. You still need to take care of your body and prepare it for running just like you would if you were running outside.
A good warm-up should start slow and gradually build up to your desired pace. Start with a light jog and then pick up the pace until you reach your target heart rate. This process should take about 10 minutes.
Your cool down is just as important as your warm-up. A lot of people think they can just stop running as soon as they’re done, but this can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness. Instead, slow your pace gradually over about five minutes until you’re back at a light jog. Then you can stop and stretch.
This is especially common on a treadmill because when you are done you are already in your living room. It’s easy to step off, sit down, and forget to do some light, active recovery.
Is It Ok to Run on The Treadmill Twice a Day?
Running on a treadmill twice per day can be an OK thing as long as you are realistic with expectations. If you’re normally running for 35 minutes, it wouldn’t be advisable to run twice per day for 35 minutes as that would double the total running. If you split it in half, and do it in two sessions, you should be OK.
Doing more and shorter, or less intense, running sessions may be beneficial – or at least as good as – longer sessions. One study found the following:
While the subjects are very specific, this can be applied more broadly as well. And while the study states that the results were similar from a physiological standpoint, one thing to note is that from a psychological standpoint it’s often easier to get yourself to do 15-20 minutes of exercise twice per day instead of 30-40 minutes once.
While these numbers may seem low, walking just 30 minutes per day is shown to improve health – running would be even better. Generally, people are better at taking smaller bites at a larger goal instead of swallowing it whole.
Will Stretching and Foam Rolling Help Me Run Twice a Day?
Stretching and foam rolling are other techniques that can help if wanting to pursue running twice per day.
A few tips on foam rolling and stretching:
- Foam roll before and after running
- Focus on major muscle groups like the quads, hamstrings, glutes, IT band, and lower back
- Use a lacrosse ball or similar for smaller muscle groups like the calves
- Don’t forget to stretch the chest and shoulders
- Hold stretches for 20-30 seconds each
- Generally, you should be foam rolling and stretching every day – not just when you’re running twice per day
- The main benefit of stretching and foam rolling is injury prevention. If you can keep your muscles and joints healthy
How Often Should I Run on Treadmill?
The frequency you run on a treadmill is going to be highly dependent on your overall goals. If you prefer doing more, shorter workouts, running twice per day may be a good idea as research shows it’s physiologically similar to longer bouts. If your challenge is starting, then fewer and longer sessions may be better.
An honest assessment of your goals, available time, personality, and dedication should be done to help identify what type of training plan is going to be the most beneficial for your specific goals.
If worried about whether you can run too much on a treadmill, the answer isn’t dependent on a treadmill or not, but you can overtrain from running in general. Some potential pitfalls make treadmill running perhaps slightly more prone to it, but overall it’s the same game just a slightly different horse.
It’s important to listen to your body and adjust the plan as needed. This will help ensure that you are getting a benefit from your running without placing undue stress on your body – including your joints and knees.