Treadmill Pace Conversions FAQ

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original Blogs.


The Treadmill Pace Conversions chart is the most commonly visited page on It’s also the page that, by far, I receive the most inquiries about. I’d like to take some time here to address some of the most common inquiries. Below, in no special order, are the most common questions I receive about the chart and my answers.

What is the source of the data for the chart?

In the late 1990s, some post-graduate students gathered data from multiple studies done in the 1980s and 1990s. They used primarily data on oxygen consumption, comparing runners of various abilities running on outdoor tracks at various paces to the same runners running at various paces and inclines on treadmills. The oxygen consumption between methods of running was compared and the data extrapolated to produce this chart.

With the permission of these post-graduate students, I reproduced the chart on, I believe originally in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, they told me I didn’t need to source them and I didn’t understand the importance of doing so at the time so I didn’t. After a couple computer crashes, I lost track of the original source. I’ve searched for it several times and haven’t been able to find it.

The numbers seem off, what’s up?

Especially at faster paces, I agree. The number do seem off, in some cases by quite a bit. My best guess is that, at faster paces, fewer data points were available because it takes a runner of pretty extreme fitness to run, to take the extreme, 12 miles per hour at a 10% incline on a treadmill. Anyone who knows statistics will tell you that fewer data points means more margin for error.

At more moderate paces, the numbers seem generally reasonable to me.

How should I use this chart?

My usual advice for using the chart is to consider it as a starting point. If you’re aiming for the effort of about an 8:00/mile outdoor run on level ground, then you might start at 7.8 mph at 0% incline or 7.5 mph at 1% incline. See how that feels and adjust as you feel necessary.

Remember, these are roughly speaking just averages of many runners. Some runners may find a specific setting easier than the chart suggests, while others may find it harder. In the end, I believe you should always trust your perceived effort level but this should give you a rough starting point.

Another way of using this is to consider how a workout went. For example, when I am on a treadmill, one of my favorite workouts to do is a hill progression. Every half mile, I increase the incline by a half percent without changing the speed. So, let’s say I ran a progression at 8.0 mph and got up to an 8% incline. How good of a workout was that? Well, I can use the chart to estimate that it was roughly equivalent to an outdoor progression run that topped out at roughly 6:00/mile.

Why is treadmill running different than outdoor running?

I’ve seen several reasons hypothesized. The one that seems to have the most evidence and make the most intuitive sense to me is that you aren’t moving through air. Wind resistance may not seem significant at 8:00 or 10:00/mile but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you at all.

Can you put this into a calculator or expand the chart to include more paces/inclines?

The chart is not based on a formula and the data does not nicely fit a formula. So I don’t see any way to create a meaningful calculator.

As for expanding the chart, I suppose it’s technically possible to make some inferences. However, I have always been hesitant to do so because it would then misrepresent what it originally was.

Other questions?

If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’ll do my best to answer and, if a question comes up often, come back to add it here.

Photo credit: Treadmill by Farhad sh, on Flickr

20 Replies to “Treadmill Pace Conversions FAQ”

  1. 4.2 mph at 16% incline.
    5.0 mph at 18% incline.
    5.5 mph at 20% incline.
    6.0 mph at 22% incline.

    Can a pace on flat ground be arrived at for above?

    1. I’m sure rough equivalents could be extrapolated from the chart’s data if trend lines could be determined. However, as I pointed out in the post above, I don’t want to misrepresent what the chart is by doing so. Sorry if this is an inconvenience but I strongly believe it would be wrong to create such a misrepresentation.

  2. I am doing rehab and doing a treadmill @ 1.5 mph for 25 minutes with no incline. Can you tell me what that would be in distance? I am just starting rehab and trying to increase slowly. Thank you

    1. Hi Dennis. Based on a quick calculation, you are covering 0.025 miles per minute, which is 0.625 miles in 25 minutes.

    1. Hello Tom,

      First, a 4:36 mile at 72 years old! That’s very impressive regardless of where you’re doing it. Congratulations! If you can carry that pace to the outdoors or even close, I’d encourage you do do so as the 70-74 age group world record is 5:19.

      As for an equivalent time on a track, I’m sorry but the source data only goes as fast as 5:00/mile. As I point out in the last question addressed in this post, inferences could probably be made about other paces outside of this range but I’m not going to make inferences and offer them up because I believe that could lead to a misrepresentation of what the source data itself is.

  3. I am a 21 year old female. I run at a 0% incline at 6.0mph that increases to 7.0 over the duration of 15 minutes. After a break I repeat this. I typically run three miles by the end, I am thinking. I am new to this and have been running about a year and a half, on and off. What I am mainly wondering is if that is a slow rate considering my age and other factors. Thank you!

    1. Hello Maxine,

      It’s so hard to say whether that is slow or fast. Really, it doesn’t matter anyway. What matters is whether or not you’re getting out of it what you want. I’m sure there are people your age both much faster and much slower than you. The question you need to ask yourself is what you want to get out of this running and is this running accomplishing that?

  4. I incline at level 12..always keep it there…
    Speed 3
    Age 67
    5 days a week
    My question is.. At level 12 what’s the percent grade?
    Is this a good work out?

    1. Hello Bea,

      On most treadmills, the incline level is percent grade so 12 would most likely be a 12% grade. To be sure, you would need to look up the manual for the specific model of treadmill you’re using.

      As to whether this is a good workout or not, that depends on a lot of factors. The main question is whether or not it leaves you pleasantly tired at the end. At 5 days a week, you don’t want to feel beat up at the end but you shouldn’t feel like it was, for lack of a better metaphor, a walk in the park. If you feel pleasantly tired at the end 5 days a week, then I’d say that’s a good workout.

  5. hello I was wondering about the incline . I can run flat ground 8:30 minutes per mile(thats 1 mile and done haha)

    Now I started inclines on a treadmill grade of 10% at 5mph, I did 2 minutes and my heart rate is 190 bpm and I am done.

    The first time only took 1 minute for that same affect haha …But This absolutely does not match what the numbers are suppose to be ..

    I am overweight,5’7″ 220 lbs with 65 lbs needing to leave .. does the extra weight affect someone more seeings it is dead weight not muscle ..on an incline more than at normal weight to frame ratio?

    I do also note a similar affect when I run with my wife and we run on flat ground,if I didn’t slow down for her she wouldn’t be able to keep pace with me as she does not run often but even still when we hit hills its exactly the opposite showing me that my hill work is exceptionally off …

    1. Hello Geoff,

      Good question and one I thought I already had in the FAQ. I’ll have to get it added.

      The chart represents averages. In short, everybody is different. Some of us struggle on inclines more than others. There could be many reasons for this, from biomechanics to weight to physiological differences within our muscles themselves. For whatever reason, though, these can affect how the chart applies to us.

      My usual suggestion is to use the chart as a guideline but always allow your body to dictate what you should be doing. The chart gives you an idea of what you can expect but, depending on how you as an individual react to the treadmill, you may need to adjust.

  6. Hi Very useful chart esp in these mad times.
    I’ve been running nearly 2 years now, I’m an average runner, average around 7:30 min/mile 1/2 marathon sub 90 mins and 5k around just over 20 mins, Trying to target sub 20 mins for the 5k. With the mad time brought my first TM
    To hit sub ,20 mins for 5k I think this is 6 min miles or ,4 min per ,1k.
    I’m sure my TM is set in mph and I find 10mph slow and can AVG 12mph on the TM for over 5k, I also did some 400m and got up to 16moh for 1x400m all on 1% incline (my TM goes up to 22mph Proform 1295i)
    Now I’m not suggesting I could hit and maintain “12mph” with increased inclined, it’s a shame no sliding scale for faster mph but less inclined eg up to 20/22mph with 0 or little incline.
    I also know there’s no way I could run a mile anywhere near 5 mins, yet according to the his chart at 12mph on TM is 5 min Mile on road so either I’ve suddenly got quick or somethings off. I hope it’s just my TM set to kph not mph…

    1. Hi Andy,

      I’m guessing your treadmill is either set to kph or is pretty badly miscalibrated. 12 mph would be a 5:00 mile and I would not expect someone who is aiming to break 20 minutes in a 5K to be able to run even a single 5:00 mile on a treadmill at any incline.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help but it sounds like something is up with the treadmill. I’d suggest, for the time being at least, running by effort and not getting too caught up with the reported speed or distance. That or check the manual and see if you can confirm whether it’s in mph or kph.

      Stay safe and remember, in most places, you can still run outdoors as long as you can properly keep your distance from others. Some time in the outdoors is important for both your physical and mental health, especially in times like these.


  7. Love this chart and website – return to it often to review paces for treadmill workouts on incline. Do a lot of my threshold/tempo workouts on incline – love doing it for marathon training, can work on running marathon pace or just a bit slower… yet with a 3-5%incline, it results in a strong Tempo/Threshold effort! Then maybe at the end of a 8min block, ramp down to 1% or flat…to flush legs at Marathon pace. Good stuff!

    QUESTION IS – I am getting a treadmill soon and was thinking it would be great to have a very large colored print of this – can do it myself if I print at office, but would be nice to get a full poster size of it. If it was polycoated it would be great to be able to use a dry-erase marker to highlight key paces across the incline range! (race pace, threshold pace, recovery, etc). ANYONE know if this avaliable anywhere? Hillrunner ever consider producing one? Google and Etsy have come up blank

    1. Nick, I’m glad you find it useful. That’s wonderful.

      As for your question, I’ve never considered producing a poster. I have started working on a PDF with it and some sample treadmill workouts that would be available to certain people (people who register for a free account or sign up for the newsletter, something like that) but I set it aside and never finished. The poster idea is interesting. I’ll definitely consider it but I have so many irons in the fire I wouldn’t want to make any promises on when or even if it could happen.

      If someone else would want to create such a poster, I’d love to hear about it.

  8. Hi! So glad to discover this chart (for the second time around, I think!) Now that I have my own treadmill, it’s even more relevant to me. I had developed a similar training “theory” and shared with my hubs – he was unimpressed. Looking at the chart, I think I wasn’t that far off! For every .5 % increase in incline, I counted the equivalent of 0.1 mph pace difference. I.E. – 8 mph @ 6% incline is roughly the same as 9.2 mph. By this chart, I was only about 10 seconds per mile off – not bad for quick math in my head!
    Of course, at the “extreme ends” there is greater variability. At 5 mph and 10% incline, my estimate was 8:34, but the chart says 8:07, which makes me feel even better about “shlogging” up the man-made hill.
    Before reading all the comments, I copy-pasted all the values into an Excel document and color-coded it with conditional formatting. I plan to hang it on the wall next to our machine. For my use, I eliminated the paces that would likely cause injury 🙂

    1. Hi Christy, I’m glad you have found it helpful. That’s a pretty impressive theory you came up with, especially considering that everyone is a little different.

    1. Sorry Emily, I’m sure it would be very possible to do the conversions but I haven’t and don’t know of any place where it has been done.

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