First Treadmill Machine Workout

42 Responses

  1. theysaidwhat says:

    You absolutely cannot trust the calorie counts on the machines. Sorry, but it’s true! However, everyone burns roughly 100 calories for each mile walked or run, so you can use that as a gauge.

    There are many great walk/run programs out there for beginners. Essentially they all have you walking more minutes than running in the beginning, with the ratio switching over time.

    When I began running, I ran for as long as I could on the treadmill, which was about ten minutes in the early going. (Note, this was after a lengthy period of elliptical workouts, so you may not have been pushing yourself enough on the elliptical.) Then I completed whatever remained of my 45 minutes of cardio on another machine.

    If you weren’t tired after your brisk walk, then you weren’t working hard enough. Try either changing the pace or changing the incline. If your goal is to eventually run, then I’d change the pace. I can’t see why you wouldn’t be able to begin at 4.0 after months of cardio on the elliptical.

    Are you taking your heart rate during your workouts? Manually, not using the grips on the machine. Hope up onto the side rails of the treadmill, count your neck pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. If you’re not in the 70-80% range of your maximum heart rate, you aren’t where you need to be.

    I know it’s frustrating to try something new and find that it is damned hard, but it’s all the more rewarding when you master it!

  2. theysaidwhat says:

    Oh, and you are absolutely going to need to be able to drink while running/speedwalking. You’ll learn how to run and drink at the same time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Tyler says:

    I re-read my post above and your comments theysaidwhat — it sounds a lot like I’m whining. I think I just need to suck it up, run until I’m exhausted, walk for a little while, then run again until I can’t take it anymore.

    Is that a viable running strategy? :)

  4. Mark says:


    That’s what I do outside. It’s much easier on a treadmill.

  5. theysaidwhat says:

    You’re not whining–running is really difficult at first, and it’s humbling. We’ve all gone through that phase of it, and I’m sure we all complained a bit. So no worries.

    A lot of the walk/run programs start out at 4 minutes of brisk walking to 1 minute of running. So walk for four minutes, run for one, then walk for four, run for one. If you start to suspect you could do a bit more, then try running for 70 seconds a few times.

    It’s going to be a lot of trial and error at first. It was for all of us.

    You can do it Tyler!

  6. theysaidwhat says:

    Oh, and at first the running minute is going to seem like a ‘plod’, like you are somewhere between running and walking. That may be an 11 minute mile or less. Like it’s almost annoying to go that slowly–you don’t want to burn yourself out in the beginning of your workout.

  7. kate says:

    Tomorrow is national running day and I’m doing a whole post on running tips. A sneak peak: work in 5 minute intervals. Start with running for a minute and walking for four, and after a you get comfortable with that (which might take a few days), run for two and walk for three…you want to get to a point where you’re running for four and walking for one, and finally wher eyou just run flat out.

  8. theysaidwhat says:

    Kate, you’ll have to let us know where to find that post tomorrow!

  9. Jacquilynne says:

    Definitely look at interval training to get that 1 minute of running up to more minutes of running. It’s got a specific goal in mind, but consider Couch-to-5K as a guide for building up your endurance — it’s a very popular, well-supported program.

  10. Little Lugs says:

    Don’t get discouraged – I am a new runner, using the Couch to 5K program ( It starts you off doing intervals of jogging & walking…by the end of 8 weeks you’ll be a runner! I never thought I could be a runner, but this has proved me wrong.

  11. triple-e says:

    Plans never hurt. Sounds like you could start on this couch to 5k and see where that gets you: For me, the incline totally makes the difference. I ran 1 mile this morning without much thought, then realized I hadn’t bumped the incline 1 notch, like I had been. Made a huge difference in effort vs. time.

  12. Tyler says:

    You guys rock. Thanks for all the tips and links.

    Kate, make sure you let me know the URL tomorrow!

  13. fotoVoyager says:

    Don’t give up on running. When you’ve can do it (and it takes practise) it’s the only exercise that’ll give you the exhilarating high that runners talk about and, usefully, you get a big gobbet of calorie burning exercise and a great heart lung workout in the shortest amount of time.

    It is boring on the treadmill though – I suggest you try running / walking around the block where you live. Once you can achieve a good rhythm you’ll welcome the uninterrupted thinking time without the clackity clack of the gym.

  14. Tara3117 says:

    When I started running, I used this as my startup guide I don’t think you’re whining, but I think you might have gone a little easy on yourself. I think that fat burner thing is a myth. If you burn 320 calories and 60% of them are from fat, it’s the same as burning 480 calories where 40% is from fat. I’ll take more total calories burned please!

    I know I’ve said this before, but you need to invest in a heart rate monitor, like yesterday. I have a Polar F6 that I got from Best Buy for a little more than $100 (they’re the same price everywhere I looked). I will tell you that the last time I ran on the treadmill, my HRM read 355 but the treadmill said 172.

    For the boredom, I try to time my runs with something good on TV or get really wrapped up in the music. I try to time my steps with the beat. Or, I read a magazine, but I can’t really read and run at the same time.

  15. theysaidwhat says:

    Sorry to but in again, but I had a thought.

    It’s very difficult to workout hard following a big meal. Your digestive system is trying to commandeer bloodflow and oxygen to process your meal and you are telling it–hey-go to my legs and my lungs!! Digestive system wins in that war.

    It seems that you generally exercise after dinner, right?

    You may find that a light snack–around 100-150 calories of carbs and a bit of protein–about an hour before your workout allows you to focus better and work harder at the gym. Have the big meal after the workout. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Not only that, but I’d get nauseated eating a big meal and then trying to run.

  16. Nick R says:

    Definitely, do a walk/run program. The schedule above looks good, but will probably be more than you can handle right now. Just try to increase your amount of running each workout until you feel like you can handle it. Each time I would run to exhaustion like you did, but make sure you have some tangible gain (at least 10-30 seconds.) Don’t be afraid of pushing yourself either, I find a lot of running for me is just convincing my body it’s capable of doing it. Also, don’t be afraid of small gains. Small gains over time will add up.

    I would consider only runing/walking half of your workout days and return to the elliptical the other days.

    One final thought, I would look at the treadmill at this point as a tool to train your body to run rather than worry overly about how much calories you burn with it. Once you’re really up and running, you’ll burn calories like nothing else. Running is INCREDIBLY humbling. I love to go to a race, run my heart out, give it my all, and look up to see some 70 year old man running effortlessly in front of me. No matter how fast/far you run, it’s going to be no big deal to the next guy. (And there’s always someone who runs faster/further.)

    Realistically, I think you can build up to running a solid mile in 1-2 months. Once you can run a mile, you can increase that to a 5k (3.1 miles) in 2 months and increase that to a 10k in another 2 months. Unless you have a personal goal, I don’t think there’s any need to run more than a 10k.

  17. bossymommy says:

    Tyler…I fear my comments will just get lost in this sea of info you’ve been given here…read my email!!! p.s. You ROCK!!

  18. Chris says:

    That’s 100 calories/mile for a 150 pound person. Scale appropriately. Or you could get a heart rate monitor watch that computes calories based on weight and HR, or a ‘bodybugg’ of you really want to drill into it. The calories on a machine might give you an indication of ‘volume’ from one workout to the next, but you can’t compare different makes, much less compare ellipticals to treadmills. Too many differences.

    Some notes on the C25K program. I’ve run a marathon and am returning to running after an injury, and I’m starting with this program (instead of my first instincts) since I want to re-learn how to run fast, not just run the distance.

    I also feel that that program starts out assuming you can do more than many people can do at the beginning. I’m currently doing 30 seconds running (at about 7:45 pace) and 60 seconds walking at about 3 mph. And wheezing during the recoveries, although I’m doing better. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oddly I don’t wheeze while running. I’m up to about 20 seconds before I start checking my watch to see ‘is it time yet?!’ so I’ll hold at this level for another week.

    You could start with a 90 second cycle. Just run for 20 seconds and walk the rest, and increase the amount of time you’re running as you’re comfortable with it. 90 seconds is nice since you know that you’ll always need to resume running at 1:30, 3:00, 4:30, 6:00, etc. The first ‘official’ cycle is 2:30 so you resume running at 2:30, 5:00, 7:30, 10:00, etc.

    Three things though:

    1) you do not want to go more than 20 minutes (plus warmup and cooldown). Your feet remain on the pedals on an elliptical machine but you land on your feet when running. That makes a huge difference on risk of injury. Keep it short until your body adjusts to the impact.

    2) it’s hard to start/stop/start on a treadmill and I usually don’t bother. Get a watch and go outside.

    3) you want to find a soft surface to run on. Absolutely no concrete! You’ll be injured within weeks. Asphalt is iffy at your (and my) weight. I run exclusively on dirt trails on Boulder open space until my weight is in the 250s, and even then I’ll only do a trail/asphalt mix. The downside to this is that there is a definite difference on your stride between dirt, asphalt and concrete since your foot can rotate much easier on dirt and you have to be more careful on putting your foot down on concrete, so you will ultimately need to train on all three surfaces.

  19. Courtney says:

    I start my workout on the treadmill by running for about 10 – 15 minutes and then switching to run/walk every 2 .5 minutes. I usually go for 30 minutes total.

    That said, I get incredibly bored on the treadmill. The gym at my apartment has TVs on them and I wouldn’t last more than 5 minutes on the treadmill without it. A portable DVD player might be worth the investment. Music works, but I find TV keeps my eyes off the clock and gives my ADD brain something to concentrate on.

  20. funkright says:

    Week one: Walk for 6 minutes, then jog at an easy pace for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times. Aim for three sessions with that same sequence for week one.
    Week two: Walk for 5 minutes, then jog for 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Aim to do three sessions in week two.
    Week three: Walk for 3 minutes, then jog for 4 minutes. Repeat 4 times. Aim for four sessions in week three.
    Week four: Walk for 2 minutes, then jog for 5 minutes. Repeat 4 times. Shoot for four of those sessions in week four.
    Week five: Walk for 2 minutes, then jog for 8 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Do four of those sessions in week five.
    Week six: Walk for 2 minutes, then jog for 9 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Try to do four sessions for week six.
    Week seven: Walk for 1 minute, then jog for 11 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Do four sessions this week.
    Week eight: Congratulations on making it to week eight! For your first run this week, try walking for 5 minutes to begin and end the workout, and run for 20 minutes in between. By the end of the week, try to run for 30 minutes without stopping.
    Aim to run for 30 minutes four times a week, and you’ll notice that your stamina and fitness will continue to improve. Soon you’ll be ready to run your first 5K!

  21. Coryad says:

    Well I’ll just chime in with my training plan…. same as most of the others. I ran 4 minutes, walked 1 minute…. doing the intervals REALLY helped me. I had tried just running until I thought I would croak, then walking until I caught my breath…. lost interest on the 3rd day ๐Ÿ˜€ You should adjust the intervals for you…. some people run 2, walk 2. Some run 6 walk 2…. experiment and GOOD LUCK!

    PS: I am back running after an ankle injury so we’re at the same level right now :)

  22. Catherine says:

    I’ll echo everyone else – let go of the eliptical machine’s calorie counter. It lies, lies, lies. Go by the sweat test, go by how you feel.

    Running is so hard because it’s a weight bearing workout. You’re demanding more from your body – and unfortunately, to continue to lose weight, you’re going to have to! It’s hard because you’re forcing your body to do something it doesn’t want to do: change. But you want that – so rise to this challenge as you’ve risen to every other. you can do this!

    I was never a runner either – check out HIIT. You’ll dump lots of calories, sweat like never before, not have to run the entire time, and reap a lot of fat burning benefits.

  23. Dawn says:

    The treadmill advice you are getting is good but I did want to add don’t forget to make new playlists. Run/walking is not the same as the elliptical thus different music may help jazz you up too. Keep it up Tyler. You’re doing great.

  24. Whit says:

    Here is my treadmill schedule (I go for an hour everyday):

    Start at 3.0 mph and 1.0 incline.
    Go up 1.0 incline every 2:30 until you get to 6.0.
    (I find that being overweight my body can handle increases in incline more than increases in speed)
    After you’re at max incline, go up .1 mph until you’re at 3.5 mph. Hold for 5 min.
    Go down to 3.0 mph max incline for 5 min.
    Go back to 3.5 mph max incline for 5 min.
    I do this until there is 5 min left and I gradually reduce the incline to zero and then complete the treadmill’s automatic 5 min cooldown.

    It usually burns around 775 calories per hour.

  25. Joy Manning says:

    When I work out on the treadmill, this is what I usually do:

    Walk 5 minutes to warm up at a comfortable pace–for you probably 3.6

    Then I increase the speed to 4.3 and the incline to 3.5 for 1 minute. Then I walk at a “rest” pace at no incline (still exercise, but not too strenuous). Then I jog at a slow, comfortable speed for 1 minute, then back to my 1 minute walk. I repeat this cycle, but I adjust my running pace up a notch until it’s very challenging. This interval-type treadmill workout really busts boredom for me.

  26. Paul says:

    Google “Couch to 5k”

    It’s a running program that takes you through weekly routines. You start out doing 8 intervals of running 60-seconds and walking 90-seconds, and after several weeks of progressively lengthening the running part (and the walking intervals) you end up running 3 miles straight in about 45 minutes.

    I started out having never jogged before, and getting all dizzy and out of breath within 60 seconds, to running up to 10 minutes at a time. I’m obviously not finished with the program, but I’ve made more progress than I ever thought possible.

    Keep up the great work. I’ve got about 50 pounds I could do without, and you’re definitely an inspiration.

  27. Lesli says:

    Couch-2-5K is an excellent program. I always stall out at the 2-3 minute run mark. I just cannot sustain a run for more than 3 minutes. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to. lol

    There are podcasts for the C25K available on iTunes.

    Also, do intervals. Big hills vs flats, fast vs slow, etc…

  28. Casey says:

    Just to validate my recommendations, I lost 115 pounds in 7 months. I started on the stationary bike and moved to the treadmill. I have never been a fan of the elliptical. Running intervals is the best way to go to work your self up to a sustained run. You need to concentrate on three things. Form, form, and form. There are two parts of your body that you can work everyday. Abs and calves. When I get to the gym I stretch and then do my abdominal routine, every day. Running will be much easier for you if you have the leg strength. Start doing some resistance training with your legs every 5-7 days. I keep it short and simple. Start out with some kind of leg press. Keep your feet and knees wide. This will build strength in your butt and hips. Then do leg extensions and leg curls to build muscle and strength in your thighs. You already have endurance in your legs, build strength by doing more weight for fewer reps. I like 4 sets of 5. But do whatever feels good for you.

    Now back to the form. As with any exercise you donโ€™t want to break down parts of the body unintentionally by using bad form. Keep in mind that running is a very complex movement. The length of your stride, how hard to push off with your calves, how far you bend your knees, hip rotation, the swing of your arms, where to look with your head and eyes. Do what feels comfortable. But keeps your elbows at a 90 degree angle and swing them like you are hammering a nail. Donโ€™t waste energy by swinging them across your body. Look out 10-15 feet on the floor with your eyes.

    Remember donโ€™t ignore two of the biggest muscle groups in your body. Your back and legs. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest.

    I also recommend the New Balance No Boundaries program. My wife and I just finished up the spring session and it was great! You have experienced coaches to help you out, and lots of people to run with. They have a fall program coming up, maybe there is one in your area. It is a three month program to run a 5K.

  29. Matt says:

    Hey Tyler,

    It’s been said a few comments before, but I’m going to echo it.

    Walk – Run – Walk – Run
    Interval training to get you going. Google it, there are lots of studies that show it’s better for weight loss.

    I started by jogging 2 minutes, walking 3. I would do that for 40 minutes. Gradually I traded up and traded off as I got more comfortable….jog 4 walk 6…jog 5 walk 5…then jog 6 walk 4. Over time I found I was comfortably jogging longer and longer. Once I got a good 7 minute jog and 3 minute walk, I then kicked it up a notch….trying a 2 minute RUN and 3 minute walk. Today I’m all out running 60 minutes at 6.7 mph

    So just ease into it by varying it up. Interval’s are awesome for weight loss. The more you vary it, the more interesting it will be too. Build a music play list to coincide with jogs and walks.

    I’ll swear by interval training. To put it in perspective, I started at a weight of 234. While I focused on treadmill interval training I got down to 168 or so (I was scrawny then). Now I’m focused on endurance running/weight training and am maintaining at 185.

  30. bossymommy says:

    Man, Tyler. When you ask for advice, you get it! Do me a favor, for your next advice, ask how to land a hot millionaire dude. That would help me A LOT.

  31. Chip says:


    If you’re looking for an all body cardio workout that allows you to control pace without getting uber exhausted, check out the rowing machine (if your gym has one). It gets your arms, abs, back, and legs.

  32. texstorm says:

    Definitely give the couch to 5K on If you’ve got an iPod go look up the couch to 5K podcast on there. That will guide you verbally through the workout. I did it and was amazed at my progress. I went from no running to running 30 minutes without a rest in 8 weeks.

  33. Kim says:

    DO interval work. Run as long as you can, then walk for a bit…eventually you will be running more than walking…or mess around with inclines and speed on the treadmill. Interval stuff is the only thing that keeps my mind engaged in some way while on there…now that I run more, and it is nice out…I am enjoying running outside much more…

  34. – music, books, magazines

    – do NOT stare at the treadmill. watching the calories tick by makes you perceive it to go slower (like staring at a clock).

    – get yourself to a comfortable yet challenging level, and then distract yourself with music, etc. so you can do it a long time

    – it’s not about boredom, either. sometimes it will get boring, because it is repetitive (especially the scenery). that is something you have to ignore, which is why distractions are helpful

  35. Tara3117 says:

    It might be moot right now, but I put my towel over the display on the treadmill so I don’t watch seconds and calories tick away. I figure 30 minutes is 9-10 songs on my iPod, so I time myself that way. Watching the clock will absolutely drive you crazy!

  36. Nick R says:

    Wow, some awesome comments in here. I feel like I need to throw in a caveat, I’m only 5’7″ 150lbs and never have knee or feet problem from running. People closer to your body composition probably have much better advice on that. I honestly don’t know how I could injure myself from running alone.

    I much prefer to run outside, weather permitting–nighttime runs under a full moon are incredibly inspiring–but when I’m on the treadmill, I live by the counter. A lot of people here seem to hate it. Every 10 seconds that tick off I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I look for every 10 seconds, 30 seconds, every minute, every quarter mile, every half mile, and especially each mile. I make the closest goal, then head for the next., and I never look towards the end goal (30 minutes seems impossible when you’re facing 3 minutes, but 3:30…) I never bother with incline, but I never walk on the treadmill either. I think if I were walking I’d probably throw inclines in there.

  37. Chris says:

    Running outside is approx .5 to 1% include on treadmill. It’s something to keep in mind if you bounce between them.

  38. Use inclines all the time, when you can. Inclines will definitely boost the amount of calories you burn in the same amount of time.

  39. JEJ says:

    As a former very big person myself, I can tell you I tried running too early and had injury setbacks because of it. My advice: WALK on the treadmill and during the course of your workout increase and decrease the incline–I promise you that when you’re at a 12 or 15 incline you’ll feel it. I started at a 4 incline and increased 1 degree every two minutes until max, then decreased one degree every two minutes until back to 4. Then again.

  40. kate says:

    I agree with JEJ. The elliptical is a great cardio workout for people who weighed as much as you did because it completely takes care of any impact on your joints and back. I would personally wait til you lost another 20 or so pounds to really start running, and then start witha jog/walk program. If you’re getting bored with an elliptical try the stationary bike or the stair climber. They both provide more resistance to slightly different muscle groups and a great cardio workout still without any impact.

    When you start running you should get a specific pair of shoes for it, made for running and if possible get someone to check out your posture. Like weight lifting, running can be damaging if you do it with the wrong form. It stresses your joints, your back, your bones as well as your muscles and trust me shin splints are nothing to laugh about and more than enough to stop anyone from even walking for quite a while.

    If your gym offers it, get one or two sessions with one of the trainers (a real one though not just gym staff) and ask them about running posture. You should be able to belly breathe, land on the balls of your feet and roll your feet as you move. There’s a lot more you can do with your arms but a lot of people slump when they run which makes breathing difficult and will make your back hurt. They don’t keep a pace with their breath and get out of breath easy or don’t go hard enough, or worst, they slam the heels of their into the ground (even a treadmill) and can get shin splints, bone spurs, knee cartilage damage over time, crush and hairline fractures, sprains, tendonitis, hip problems etc.

    I would even go so far as to suggest don’t run on treadmills if you have a nice rubber/asphalt or polyurethane track at your disposal. Many local highschools put these it now. Never on concrete if you can avoid it, and be wary of indoor running tracks that aren’t anything really more than carpeted cement circles.

  41. Stephanie Denman says:

    How do you feel about running outside of the gym? I went from never running to running a half marathon without stopping in 5 months. I’m a slow runner, the half marathon took me 2hr and 58 minutes but my goal was not to stop and under 3 hours so I was happy with it. My reasons for telling you this is that I CANNOT run on a treadmill for more than 10 minutes….I get so bored and that makes me constantly focus on how hard I’m breathing or how it hurts etc… I won’t lie to you, my first run outside was hard, the first part and the last part suck, but I started out by running toward a downhill and I would tell myself “I will run til the downhill part and then if by then I still want to stop and walk I will” the interesting thing is I never wanted to stop running by that point. For me I start each run realizing that the first mile is going to suck and the last mile is going to be hard. After the first mile, it seems like all the kinks are worked out and my breathing is in a groove and I really don’t feel the need to stop, the last mile sucks because I’m like those horses who know they’re near the barn and they just want to get it over with. The key for me is to not stop, so actually I have a hard time improving my average mile pace because I’m afraid if I speed up, I will have to stop and for me, I’ll feel like I haven’t accomplished what I’ve set out to….I think I’m going to take a running class this summer to help me with that……..what amazed me was how fast I got better at running. Like, the second run, I was much better…I could go farther and it didn’t hurt so much, then the third run was even better…..that was really shocking to me, a week later I really felt like a runner…..I know not everyone likes it, but when you said you could only run a minute or two on the treadmill and that you were bored it rang a bell with me…. I can’t either, but I can really run outside however, I live in Alaska, I’m not sure I could run in the heat in South Carolina :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>