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Treadmill Running Speeds for Beginners to Maximize Benefits

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treadmill running speeds for beginners

When starting to run on a treadmill as a beginner, it can be hard to know what speed to set it at. Going too slow is obviously not great, but going too fast may cause you to tire too early to get the maximum benefit. What is the middle ground? Treadmill running speeds for beginners can be tricky.

The best speed for a beginner to run on a treadmill is one that allows the runner to keep the same pace for around 15-20 minutes initially. If you need to walk, that is fine as well. Once you can do that, slowly increase your distance. Once you hit the desired distance, slowly increase your speed as well.

Following this simple strategy should see you make good gains in both distance and speed over time. Like with most things, maximizing the benefit is going to come from consistent and disciplined adherence to the plan.

How Should a Beginner Start Running on a Treadmill?

Ideally, you will aim for workouts of no more than 15 to 20 minutes on the treadmills three times a week as a true treadmill running novice. This means that you will alternate walking with running until your body becomes accustomed to running.

How long and fast you, as a beginner, should run on a treadmill is going to depend on your current fitness level. If you have been running outdoors or doing any other form of workout, you may be able to start out a bit faster and longer than other people.

Regardless of your starting point, eventually you can increase this duration to 30 or 40 minutes after you have eased your body into the routine. Of course, this doesn’t mean running full out for 15 minutes or more. Instead, run for a minute or so and then walk for a minute or two, and slowly work your way up to running for more length of time. 

Tip: The main aspect to keep in mind when beginning a running routine on the treadmill is that it is different from running outdoors. In fact, many feel it is more challenging in many aspects, making a one-mile treadmill run feel like running three outside.

This can be because you are in a controlled environment where outdoor scenery doesn’t help you stay motivated. Of course, others feel running on a treadmill is less intense, and easier, due to the consistent incline or lack thereof compared to outdoor running.

Either way, whether it’s more challenging or less than outdoor running, it’s important to give yourself grace when starting a new treadmill running routine. 

In fact, you can even jump off the treadmill (literally) incrementally through your workout to stretch or do some strength training. Mix it up, don’t feel the process must be purely regimental. Have fun with it and experiment.

You know your own body best, along with its limits. Listen to your body. If you need to stop, stop. You will build up eventually to be able to handle the amount of running you’re aiming for, so be patient and trust the process. 

What Speed Should Beginners Run on a Treadmill?

The next most common question that many beginners will ask when beginning a treadmill running routine is about their running speed. Perhaps, you too can relate to this. While this too will vary depending on your current fitness levels, it’s best to maintain a “slow is the best” mentality.

Here’s a good run of thumb to remember, warm up for a few minutes by walking, then jog for one minute, then walk for one minute. Repeat this 10 times or more. If you are feeling good, keep it up, if you are gasping for air after 10 times, cut it down to five repeats.

Remember, your starting level and subsequent jogging/running speed will differ from anyone else’s.

However, in general, to reduce your risk of injury, aim to increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week. This will also help you avoid burnout. 

Recommended speeds for beginners to run is 5mph for jogging and 4.5mph for running. Keep in mind that the faster you can run or jog, the more calories you will burn. However, you can also easily overdo the entire thing if you push your speed too much, too fast. This can lead to overtraining and fatigue that will ultimately hinder your long-term goals.

Keep a record of your speed during each run and aim to slowly increase your speed to eventually get to where you want to be. It is truly a marathon, not a sprint, so keep that mindset when considering speed. If you’re getting back into running after a long break or simply struggle to stay consistent with running and have an on-again off-again relationship with it, the same principles apply.

Whatever the reason, make sure you follow some sort of ramp up plan to help.

Treadmill Goals: What Treadmill Speed is a 20 Minute 5k?

image of lady running 5k

Before beginning any treadmill running routine you should have some preset goals in mind. This will keep you motivated to continue your regimen, even when your body is sore, and you don’t feel up to getting on the treadmill.

Obviously, weight loss or increased endurance can itself be a treadmill goal. However, you can also aim to reach a certain speed or distance goal, like running a 5K.

If you want to aim to run a 5k in 20 minutes, your treadmill speed should be set at 9.3mph. You should aim for 6:25 minutes to run each mile. This 20-minute 5K, or 3.10-mile run, is an ideal distance to reach as a beginning runner and makes a realistic, workable, and achievable treadmill running goal. 

What Are Some Common Treadmill Running Speeds?

Here is a quick conversion chart for treadmill running speeds vs outdoor speed and distance. Find your average speed on the left and you can look across to see what your total time would be running 1 mile, 3 miles, 5k, 10k, half marathon and a marathon at that speed.

world record times in miles per hour

For Reference, here are the world record speeds:

  • 1-mile world record average speed – 17.5mph
  • 3-mile world record average speed – 15mph
  • 5k world record average speed – 15mph
  • 10k world record average speed – 14mph
  • Half-marathon world record average speed – 13.5mph
  • Marathon world record average speed – 13mph

I have also added an * next to the closet time to the world record in each category. You can set your treadmill to the world record marathon speed and see if you think you could keep that up for 26.2 miles!

Time and Distance From 2.0mph to 20.0mph

Remember: Health and Fitness Are The Goals

Above all, your main objective should be to complete your daily fitness goal. This means getting on the treadmill or doing your strength training or stretching regularly, even when you don’t feel up to the grind. It also means keeping a positive outlook.

Be sure to vary your speed and incline as well to keep your treadmill routine from becoming dull and boring. After all, your treadmill is your tool for success, and to keep it from turning into yet another coat rack in your home, stay positive, set goals, and keep moving!

Treadmill running speeds for beginners will vary person to person, but at the end of the day the advice remains the same. Start slow, stay consistent, build up over time, and you will reach your goal!

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About the author

Jasper loves to write about fitness, running, and anything else that gets him moving outdoors. He's an avid hiker, backpacker, and climber who loves to stay fit so he can make sure he's healthy enough to enjoy his favorite hobbies. He also spends time writing about his true passions in life.

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