Indoor Fitness

Since most key races take place in the spring, the majority of training for runners happens during the dark, cold winter months. But training inside doesn’t have to slow you down.

UPMC’s own Aaron Mares, MD, primary care sports medicine physician, is Associate Medical Director for the Pittsburgh Marathon. He has developed indoor workout tips for treadmill survival, cross-training, and transitioning back outside when the weather gets warmer.

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Treadmill Survival

Throughout a half or full marathon training plan, your mileage builds to long distances, which means more time spent on the treadmill for those training indoors. If you’re worried about boredom, try these tips to keep your runs interesting.

Survive on the treadmill by:

  • Using a virtual running app for tracking runs and motivation.
  • Watching shows on a portable device or tablet.
  • Listening to a pump-up playlist, book, or podcast.
  • Incorporating interval training to keep it interesting.
  • Running, at an appropriate distance, with a fellow runner.
  • Using other machines to break up your mileage for the day.


While you may think of running as an exercise for your legs, it is actually a full body sport. Running uses your calves, quads, glutes, abs, and arms. Cross-training is an important part of any training routine because it helps you work your full body to prepare for challenging runs.

When used in conjunction with running, cross-training gives your body time to recover from the demands of logging miles while still working important muscles groups and raising your heart rate. Elliptical training, strength training, swimming, and fitness classes are just a few choices.

Cross-training can help you:

  • Prevent injury.
  • Increase joint stability.
  • Recover from runs.
  • Increase motivation.
  • Enhance performance.

Indoor-Outdoor Transition

As temperatures rise, you should consider returning outdoors for a healthy and proactive indoor-outdoor training transition. But don’t try to do it all at once. Start by alternating between indoor and outdoor runs to gradually get back into the swing of things.

Studies show that running on a treadmill with a one percent incline accurately reflects the energy of running outside, but there are still many differences for your body. For example, running outside is harder on your hamstrings, quads, and ankles. Focus on these muscles as you stretch and strengthen.

If you are wearing headphones or earbuds when you transition outside, remember to pay attention to your surroundings and always stay safe.

A gradual indoor-outdoor transition can help you adapt to:

  • Different running surfaces.
  • Higher impact on muscles.
  • Temperature and weather.
  • Uneven terrain and traffic.

We wish you the best in your 2021 runs and cross-training!

Visit our website to read more about training for runners, or give us a call at 1-855-937-7678 to schedule an appointment with an expert in running medicine.

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.