If you’re anything like me, you dread having to take to the treadmill if conditions aren’t ideal for running outside. Even if you have music or a TV show to distract you, an hour on the treadmill can feel so monotonous without the scenery you get outdoors.

But here’s a secret—the treadmill can actually help your outdoor runs. Here are a few ways to make the most of your time on the treads.

Prepare for a hot race day.

If you’re using a treadmill in a gym, you likely don’t have control of the thermostat and, as a result, end up sweating way more than you would outside. Opting inside can be an easy way to bank some heat training that you hopefully won’t end up needing on race day.

Set the treadmill to at least a 1% incline.

Without wind resistance, you expend less energy on a treadmill than you would outside. But don’t let yourself off the hook—keep it challenging by experimenting with incline. 

Do a hill workout.

If you live in a nearly entirely flat locale like I do in Houston, a treadmill hill workout can often be more effective than regularly hitting the underpasses that pass for hills here. One of my favorite hill workouts is 1-minute intervals at marathon pace at a 2-3% incline. You’ll finish feeling like you got a solid workout, and mixing it up will help the treadmill session go by faster. Check out our hill repeats workout if want an example to get started.

Try a progression run.

I might be in the minority, but I much prefer to use the treadmill for easy efforts than speed workouts. Less fear of falling off the machine! However, one way to get a more efficient run out of a treadmill session is to increase the pace by one-tenth of a mile at every mile interval. You’ll get a solid strength session without expending too much effort on what should be an easier day. 

If possible, use a mirror.

This can help you focus on your form during your run, which can only help you carry any improvements to the roads outside. Better form can help reduce fatigue—and increase your confidence on race day.

Next time you’re stuck inside, tackle the treads with a new mindset!