Athletics Magazine

This Workout is No Joke–Try It!

By Brisdon @shutuprun

I went the gym yesterday, set the treadmill on a 15% incline and started running.


A 15% incline is no joke. In fact, the treadmill motor has to work very hard just to get to that incline. I figure if I’m going to work hard, so should the treadmill.

“But, we thought you were injured,” the blog world sneers at me.

Yes, this is true. But, unlike with my stress fracture, my doc and PT actually want me to run in order to stress the muscles/tendons enough to make them start healing.

This is a fine science. You have to run enough, but not too much. There should and will be some pain. I am told to keep it at about a “3”on the pain scale. I am told that if I have discomfort afterwards that lasts more than 24 hours, I should pull back.


One example of how to measure pain

Right now I cannot get on the bike because my bike seat hits exactly where my hamstring tear is. This feels exactly like someone jabbing  a Q-tip into my eardrum. When my tear first occurred (but before I really knew it), I took a 22 mile bike ride in the country and wanted stop and ask every farmer I saw if they would massage my sitz bone.

So, my challenge is finding workouts that I can do to keep my cardio where it should be, but not tax my body too much.

Enter the 15% incline. I first heard bout this from this blogger. Then I did some research on it. According to well known running author Matt Fitzgerald (Brain Training for Runners, Racing Weight, Run), fast walking or very slow running with the treadmill set on high inclines “stands to improve your running almost as much as running itself,’ yet it is very low impact. Theoretically, it won’t increase your risk of injury any more than say the elliptical will. You can read more HERE.

I ran this by my PT and she supported it. Although hamstring injuries can be irritated by uphill running, the treadmill is such a smooth and even surface that it can be quite forgiving.

Here’s what I did and kicked my ass:

Set treadmill on 12% – 15% incline. 15% is the highest many treadmills will go. This alone should tell you that you are a beast.

3.5 mph for 5 minutes (warm up)
4.0 mph for 5 minutes
4.5 mph for 2 minutes
5 mph for 1 minute
Repeat 3 times, then cool down for 5 minutes at 3.5 mph

Total workout time: 34 minutes

Eventually you can increase your time so that you work up to 60 minutes.

The high incline forced me to be on my forefoot and this felt like it took pressure off of my hamstring. I had no pain and got in a killer workout.

You obviously do not have to be injured to do this workout. If you are hard pressed for time, this 34 minutes will give you a great bang for your buck (that’s the line hooker’s use).

Be careful to ease into things. Uphill walking/running can put stress on your calves and achilles. Also, ask your PT, doc, gynecologist before you attempt this if you are injured. It certainly would not be beneficial or indicated for all injuries.

When you run on the treadmill, do you set it on an incline? Pre-injury I would put it on a random setting so it would shuffle between 1% and 5%. I would challenge myself to say at the same pace regardless of incline.

Ever try a workout like this one where your incline is super high, but your pace is slowed quite a bit – even to a fast walk? This was my first time. I LOVE a good challenge, so this is a great workout for me to add into the mix.

Have a great weekend friends!


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