Running on a Manual Treadmill

Woman running on treadmill
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The fanciest and most expensive alternative to running out-of-doors--the electronically controlled, electric-powered treadmill--isn't the only training option for indoor runners. Manual treadmills offer cheaper roads to fitness, but without the pleasantries that make indoor training more tolerable. Provide the entertainment yourself, and acquire fitness under budget, with challenges not provided by powered machines. Manual treadmills contribute to cardio fitness and efficiently burn calories, all in the privacy of the home, but they don't coddle slackers. Instead of power-assisted running, manual treadmills require hard work.

Step 1

Choose appropriate clothing. Wear shorts or comfortable long pants when running on a manual treadmill. Treadmill running places unusually repetitive stress on the feet and will require good running shoes.


Step 2

Prepare distractions. Not many runners actually focus on running--most use mental tricks or electronic entertainments to circumvent any habitual aversion to activity. Place the treadmill in front of a television, and coincide your workouts with your favorite TV programs, or time your workout with a headset and your favorite musical selections.

Step 3

Set the incline according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Since manual treadmills depend on the user for power, the belt of the machine must be set to the user's weight. Properly set, a manual treadmill provides challenge but not damaging stress.


Step 4

Start slowly. Stepping forward and pushing back with your legs begins the action of a manual treadmill. Consistent resistance results from an interaction between the movement of the user and an internal energy-storage system--usually a flywheel. Change speeds gradually when accelerating or coming to a stop.

Step 5

Use the handles of the machine only when starting and stopping. Resting on the machine robs users of the machine's real benefits. Once the manual treadmill reaches running speed, release the handles and keep going.

Things You'll Need

  • Manual treadmill

  • Timer

  • Running shoes

  • Entertainment devices


Turn the thermostat down before beginning a training session. Seventy degrees might be comfortable for watching TV, but when you are running on a manual treadmill, it's steamy.

Consult the owner's manual for maintenance tips, and follow the maintenance schedule exactly. Powered machines deal with the extra friction of faded lubrication by working harder themselves, but manual machines place the load on the user. Proper lubrication guarantees a controllable workout.


Treadmill running isn't the same as running across real-world terrain. Treadmills provide a good workout but don't offer the full range of movement and random stresses of road running. Include the important differences on your own by alternating steady runs with sprints.