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How to trail run on the treadmill

Eight tips to make your basement feel like the great outdoors

Trail runners are having a hard time finding spots to run these days. With many conservation areas and parks closed, it’s an uphill battle to find a spot to get your daily dose of nature and exercise. If you’ve taken to your basement to get your running done, here are some suggestions to make the treadmill feel a little bit more like the great outdoors.

RELATED: Gary Robbins runs 100 miles on treadmill in virtual race

Step One: rub some dirt on your legs

Trail running is a messy business and we want to keep this authentic, folks.

Step Two: grab your hydration pack (because cup holders are for weaklings)

You’re a trail runner—you don’t use cups holders, you carry your necessary fluids on your back. Just because you can’t run outside doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten who you are.

Step Three: put on Planet Earth

One of the best parts of trail running is the scenery. While your basement likely doesn’t exactly offer the same view, a nature program will serve as an appropriate alternative for now. Cracking a window is also a good idea so you can feel the fresh air.

(Pro tip: if you can’t crack a window, run a fan.)

Step Four: grab your trucker hat

Just because you’re running in your basement doesn’t mean you should give up on looking the part. Looking good is a big part of running well, so get your favourite gear on before you hit the basement conveyor belt.

Step Five: crank your treadmill up to its highest incline


Over the weekend, Gary Robbins went for a run on his treadmill, and he didn’t stop for almost 26 hours. Running for 26 hours is hard enough, but Robbins made it even tougher on himself by climbing around 17,500 feet in addition to running 100 miles. So put your incline as high as it’ll go and start climbing, because trail running is all about the hills.

Step Six: regret your (possibly) ambitious incline and lower it

We don’t all have to be Gary Robbins–and just like on a real trail, what goes up must come down.

Step Seven: leave something heavy on your path from the treadmill to the washroom

This way you can (if you’re lucky) trip on something just like you would outside.

Step Eight: have a nap outside

Usually, you’d go for a really long run outside and come home to nap indoors. But when trail running on a treadmill, we recommend (if possible) taking a snooze on your porch or balcony for your daily dose of fresh air. Because even though the treadmill can accomplish altitude, it misses the mark on the sunshine.

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