While the great majority of the world is stuck indoors, I thought I would use this opportunity to daydream about what my ideal setup would be for indoor running.
Now, I am not the type of person to have exorbitant tastes. I tend to be more on the practical side. So, my ideal setup for running indoors is completely affordable, I think.
So let’s have a look at what you need to run indoors.
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While you could probably get a fairly decent workout by running in place or running a route around your house, it isn’t ideal. Trust me, I have done this. I have even run circles inside a hotel room.
Why would I do such a thing you ask? Well, for exercise and to keep my run streak going. At the time of this article, I have run over 850 days straight with a minimum of 2 km per day. Where there is a will, there is a way. And the hotel treadmill was broken. I needed to get my run done.
But running in place and running inside doesn’t allow you to get full strides. It doesn’t allow you to run to your level. You end up running much slower. And your gait is different. I highly recommend avoiding running indoors without a treadmill. It just isn’t fun. And treadmills can be fun. Really! It’s true!
My favorite brand for treadmills is Nordic Track. This company builds a strong and sturdy machine that have topped many consumer report lists. I can’t remember exactly because it has been a long time, but ours lasted well over 15 years. The newer models even have interactive programs where you can run with a personal trainer. How cool is that.
After you get a treadmill, the next thing you will need is a good pair of running shoes. Running shoes are a personal thing; you need to get the right shoe for you. Ideally, you should have your gait analysed. But when you are stuck at home with stores closed this can be more difficult to achieve.
My favorite shoe brand is Saucony. I find they make a decent shoe that lasts. And they tend not to mess around with the design of my favorite shoe style.
I have used other brands and found that once I find a good shoe that fits me well, the next year they mess with the design and I need to look for another shoe. I have had other brands of shoes fit me perfectly one year and the next year destroy my feet after only 2 runs. And that is when I buy the exact same style, just different production years.
Saucony hasn’t done this to me yet. I have been wearing this brand for a number of years. Their shoes are comfortable, have lots of room in the toe box and are built with a sturdy construction. I love their shoes.
For indoor running on a treadmill, find yourself a comfortable road running shoe. You want a shoe that will ventilate well, yet provide you with the comfort and support you need in the right places.
Never, never, never run barefoot on a treadmill. The belt will heat up from friction and get hot. It also has a textured surface to prevent slipping, but it can shred your feet. You absolutely need shoes when running on a treadmill.
Your shoes are the most important run gear you will purchase, without a doubt. But your socks are equally important. You want a sock that wicks moisture, keeps your foot from sliding around in your shoe, prevents blisters and provides comfort.
I wrote an in-depth article all about running socks. Have a read if you aren’t sure what socks to buy.
But today I am daydreaming about ideal indoor running, so I pick my favorite sock. I found CSX socks at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon Run Expo in 2017. And I haven’t purchase another sock brand since. I absolutely love them. They provide light compression and support my arch perfectly.
Indoor Running Outfit
Okay, this next section is for women only. So, men can just skip right on by to the next discussion on run watches. I want to have a chat with my girls right now.
Ladies, you absolutely must get yourself a cute little outfit for running indoors. While people aren’t going to see you, you will feel tremendous. You will feel like working out when you have the right clothes to inspire you.
I recommend a lightweight tank for indoor running, if you can wear them. Sadly, I can’t wear tanks without showing off all my mastectomy scars. I wear the lightest t-shirts I can find.
You absolutely need performance wear that wicks sweat away from your body. Do not wear cotton clothing. It will be hot running indoors. You will sweat. And if that sweat sticks to your clothes and skin you will chafe and get blisters.
Speaking of chafing…
Unless you have a thigh gap already, I recommend shorts with a longer inseam. You will appreciate the extra fabric to prevent your inner thighs from becoming chafed. Been there, done that.
My favorite shorts are compression shorts to hold in all my loose skin. While I have lost a lot of weight, I do have some extra fluff and excess skin in my belly region. Very few of us ladies don’t, am I right? I don’t want that jiggling while I run. So, high waist compression shorts hold all that in and make me feel good.
I love these shorts by Baleaf.
Now, let’s talk about underwear, shall we?
You also need comfortable wicking underwear. Pretty panties and comfy cottons won’t cut it. Trust me, you will thank me. Check out the fabulous running underwear from Runderwear.
And if you don’t trust me? Well, I am sorry for that very painful shower you are about to take. Ouch! Also been there, done that. I truly sympathize!
You also want a sports bra that holds the girls securely in place. I don’t have this problem, as I had double mastectomies without reconstruction. Not sure if I call it lucky per se, but I don’t wear a sports bra. However, I have a lot of running friends who wear sports bras and have heard many stories and recommendations.
Just like running shoes, a sports bra is a very personal choice. You need one that provides enough support yet is comfortable to wear. I asked my runner friends what they advise. In no particular order, their top brand choices were Nike, Under Armour and Lululemon.
Now, most treadmills have a way to track your stats, like distance and pace. But I find a good run watch is handy both indoors and outdoors.
I love my Garmin watch as it uploads my run data so easily into the Garmin Connects app. The Forerunner 35 watch is a reasonably priced option that suits my needs just fine. It also has a heart rate monitor, which treadmills can’t supply very comfortably nor continuously.
Sure, there are fancier and more expensive watches, but I don’t feel the need to include them here. The Forerunner 35 is perfect for indoor running. You do need to calibrate it with a couple of outdoor runs though.
Run Training Plan
The next thing to consider about running indoors is a training plan. Yes, you can just run. But having a goal to work towards and a run training plan to follow helps push you just a little bit further. Runners tend to work harder if they have a goal distance or goal pace in mind.
I absolutely love 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald. It is my go-to book when I am developing my training plans. I use a variety of sources for my plans, but the basis is always 80% easy runs with 20% hard training. I first used the principles in this book to develop the training plan that got my husband his Boston Marathon qualifying time. It works.
You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, run hard on every run.
Making Indoor Running Fun
Running inside on a treadmill doesn’t have to be a chore. I previously wrote an article on how to make treadmill running fun.
Since we are talking about the ideal set up for running inside, I will tell you my favorite way to entertain myself while running on the treadmill.
I will stream a Netflix show or movie that matches the time I will be running. If I am running a shorter distance, I will pick a TV show that is about 30 – 40 minutes long. If I want to do a long run, I will pick a movie that is about 1.5 – 2 hours long. This way I don’t have to fumble around with starting another show during my run, risking potential for injury on the treadmill.
I stream Netflix on my iPad, propping it up on the treadmill right in front of me. I can also play music or a podcast on my iPad if I am not in the mood for Netflix. You can also video chat with a friend while running. An iPad is a versatile device for treadmill running. I love mine.
I use my case to secure my iPad on the treadmill. Sometimes the little shelf on the treadmill isn’t enough to prevent your device from bouncing off. I place the case flap over the front of the treadmill. Since I have been doing this, I haven’t had my iPad fall off.
The other thing that would cause my iPad to fall off would be the cords to my ear buds. Occasionally my arm swing would snag the cord and ear buds and iPad would go flying off. This isn’t an issue with wireless ear buds.
My top brand choice for ear buds is JLAB Audio. While the sound quality isn’t groundbreaking, it is decent and competes with other top brands. But the kicker is the great price. For a budget ear bud, these are top notch. And they were designed for athletes and are light weight. Can’t go wrong with that.
Making Indoor Running More Comfortable
One of the advantages of running indoors is perfect weather. There is no rain, snow or wind. The temperature is controlled. But usually the temperature is controlled for comfort at rest, usually about 70 F (20 C). So, you will feel hot and you will sweat when running indoors. So let’s chat about ways to mitigate this.
The Perfect Water Bottle
Be sure to drink water when you are running indoors. You will be losing fluids through sweating.
So, have your favorite water bottle handy. My ideal water bottle has a stainless-steel interior. I absolutely hate that artificial plastic taste. It takes multiple washing for this toxic taste to dissipate from a plastic water bottle, so I don’t even bother with them anymore. I go right for a bottle with a stainless-steel interior.
I also like to add ice to my water to cool me off. So, I like a wide mouth bottle that allows me to insert ice cubes easily.
The other thing I look for in a water bottle is a spout that allows for easy drinking. I don’t want to fiddle with a lid while running. I want that water handy.
The Hydro Cell Stainless Steel Water Bottle has all this. It is reasonably priced too.
with Straw & Wide Mouth Lid
The other essential item for running more than about 30 minutes on a treadmill is BodyGlide. I find that I chafe after I’ve been sweating and moving for this long. BodyGlide or a little Vaseline in strategic places helps tremendously with this problem. I like BodyGlide better as it isn’t as sticky or gooey.
The wicking clothing mentioned before helps a lot too. But it just isn’t enough sometimes.
Cooling Microfiber Towel
When sweat starts to bead up on my forehead, it starts dripping into my eyes. And that picture, my friends, is exactly how it feels… uncomfortable. I try to keep a small microfiber towel handy to wipe it off before it gets into my eyes. Microfiber is super absorbent and feels so soft.
These little cooling microfiber towels are perfect. And when I run outside they clip onto the front of my hydration pack perfectly. So handy.
The final item in my ideal indoor running setup is a cooling fan. Yes, some treadmills have a built in fan. But these fans are not all that powerful, and they only blow air at your face. They don’t cool your whole body.
A fan that blows cooling air at your torso is a beautiful thing. It can also help your run feel as though your are outdoors running your favorite route.
So, there you have it. That is my ideal indoor running set up. Is there anything you would add to the list?