A lesson in treadmill speed training

by Kim on March 28, 2013

Things I’ve learned this week:

–I don’t really like Pilates. Or maybe, more accurately: pilates is hard. When I first started going to BodyFlow (a mix of tai chi, yoga, and pilates), I was never quite sure when we were doing what.

Now, I can tell it’s pilates if I’m suffering and checking the clock every 2 seconds.


Fine, it’s not the pilates…it’s the dang PLANKS!

–Everything everyone says about TJ’s Naan bread is totally true. Yum. (PLUS, I just found this nice list of 5 things you can do with it.)

–When you have a migraine, finding out that your husband’s car needs a new transmission does not help relieve the migraine. (If anyone was wondering why I was so cranky on Twitter the other day, there ya go. Goodbye, savings! Ughh…)

–It is not wise to cook 4 boxes of tofu in the same night, if that’s also a night you’re planning to run for an hour. In my experience, cooking tons of tofu = eating tons of tofu, which in turn = a stomachache and a sabotaged run. Oops.

running stomachacheMore or less what actually happened. You’d think I’d know better, right?

–I wouldn’t say this healthified Wendy’s frosty recipe is identical to the real thing, but it is good. The texture is perfect, anyway.

–Target makes some pretty cute yoga stuff. (Lulu, is that you??)


So I’ve been doing some research on speed training, in preparation for tackling my new speed goals, and I started reading about the 30-20-10 workout. The concept is pretty simple: basically, it’s a hard-harder-hardest progression that’s repeated in back-to-back cycles.

How it works: run at a moderate pace for 30 seconds, kick it up to a speedy run for 20 seconds, and then top it off with a 10-second sprint. Repeat 4 times for one cycle, recover with a couple minutes of jogging, and then do it all over again.

Here’s the problem: I’m still doing 100% of my running on the treadmill. It’s not that I couldn’t get outside—we’re actually experiencing a 40-degree HEAT WAVE this week—but I’m a complete wimp about cold weather, and I can never seem to dress right for running in it.

So what? Well, the 30-20-10 works a lot better when it’s freestyled. On the treadmill, you end up spending the whole time frantically jamming buttons to switch speeds, missing your cut-off times, and losing track of where you are in the workout. It’s insane. (Trust. Me.)

So I decided to tweak the standard 30-20-10 to make it a little more treadmill-friendly. I figured that slightly longer intervals would make the treadmill logistics much more manageable, without sacrificing anything in terms of speed training success.

And so, I give you: the 60-40-20.

60-40-20 Treadmill Speed Training

The cycle becomes two minutes long instead of one, and it’s repeated twice instead of four times before you get a jogging break.

I don’t like to think much during workouts (isn’t that why you become a runner in the first place?), so to pull off something like this, I have to write down exactly what I’m supposed to be doing from minute to minute.

Here’s what the plan looks like, fully written out:

60 40 20 Treadmill Workout

I did the Gazelle workout, but I also included slightly faster and slower variations, just for kicks. Eventually, I’m hoping to work up to the Cheetah. (What am I even talking about right now? Sheesh.)

I also included the times in both ascending and descending order, since those darn descending timers on gym treadmills can be crazy confusing with something like this.

There’s still a lot of button-jamming, of course, but it’s much more manageable than the 30-20-10 when a treadmill’s involved. Maybe I’ll give the original a shot sometime this summer (assuming I ever cut the treadmill umbilical cord).

What’s your favorite speed training method?

Thoughts on Pilates? If you love it, please sell me. (haha)


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie @ A Mother's Pace November 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm

The graph you made for your workout is fantastic! I’ve been doing a lot of my speed work on the treadmill lately as well. Not sure why, but I can’t do speed work while running in the dark. Sounds silly, I know. I have to write out my plan when I do treadmill speed work but it doesn’t look as pretty as yours. :)
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Kim November 3, 2013 at 9:26 pm

That doesn’t sound silly at all! I’m the same way! I have to have everything planned to the minute.


Ali March 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

I seriously had no idea Target had cute workout clothes!
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Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome March 28, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Woo hoo! Good for you on the speed training! I’m with you on the cold. I can’t stand running outdoors when it’s below 60! My nose drips like crazy which is so annoying! When I do any half marathon training I always include an interval training with 400 meter sprints followed by 400 meter regular paced runs. Each week I increase by another 400 meters. So one week might be 6 sprints then the following would be 7 :-) The HIIT workout I posted would definitely increase your speed!
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Kim March 29, 2013 at 9:28 am

Yep, I used to do the same thing–do you use Hal Higdon’s programs?

Your HIIT workout would probably kill me first, haha. :)


Kelly March 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Pilates IS hard. But I like it – well, when I’m not cursing it for being so hard. :) (This also is coming from someone who hadn’t done an actual pilates class for quite a while.) I did find, though, that the instructor really made the difference. I’m not sure where you took your class, but you should try Madison Pilates if you haven’t already! it is located right out by you and I really liked the instructors there.
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Kim March 29, 2013 at 9:27 am

I actually really love this instructor–I guess there’s only so much you can do to make planks bearable! :) Thanks for the tip on Madison Pilates! I’ve only been going to the classes at my gym so far, but I’d love to venture out into the studio world someday. Keeping an eye out for a good Groupon!
Have a great weekend, Kelly!


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