Just about the longest I’ve run on a treadmill is 6 or 7 miles. That’s not long, in the grand scheme of things, but over the last several months, I’ve had a decent amount of treadmill runs. When the weather is too bitterly cold, or when it’s too icy or snowy, I opt for the treadmill instead of running outside. This week, since we’ve had some ice and snow, and since my two weeks of no running ended, I have had a few dates with the good ol’ treadmill at the gym.
The treadmill is definitely not my favorite way to run, but if it comes down to running on the treadmill or not running at all, I’ll take the treadmill every time! One of the very first things I did when I started to run more on the treadmill was to stop calling it a dreadmill, or Satan’s sidewalk, or a hamster wheel. Calling the poor thing names doesn’t help you one bit, and just puts a negative spin on the whole thing before you’ve even started.
The treadmill can be a great tool to help you keep up your runs and workouts when the weather is crappy, or if you’re in a situation when you can’t or shouldn’t run outside. Just think, you get to have your water, gu, towel, etc. right there at your fingertips! How convenient! This week, I have a few tips and tricks to help make the time go by faster, or at least not make the treadmill quite so boring.
My #1 go to option is to watch something. Almost all treadmills have a little stand for a phone or tablet, so my first option is to watch an episode of something on Netflix, or a movie, or something to keep my mind occupied while I run in place. Many gym treadmills have a port to listen to what’s on the TV’s on the walls, so this is a good option too.
If I don’t have anything to watch, then my second best way to make the time pass is to listen to something. I don’t run with music when I’m outside, but on the treadmill, I can zone out while listening to music or a podcast. You can also read! It’s a bit harder for me to read while I run, but it is possible! Get a good book on your tablet, and increase the size of the font a bit, and off you go!
Find a treadmill with a fan built in, or try to aim a fan at you. I don’t know about you, but I overheat quickly. With no air movement, it becomes stiflingly hot, real quick. My favorite treadmill at the gym has a fan built in, so a gentle breeze is blowing on my face the whole time I’m running, and boy, that’s the difference between a comfortable run and a miserable run. If I get on a treadmill which doesn’t have a built in fan, the minutes seem slower for sure.
Cover up the time and/or distance on the screen. That time ticking up or down just makes time stand still. That mile takes forever when you watch it crawl up by .01. Cover up the screen so you don’t have to look at it! I don’t usually cover up the time if I’m watching a show on my phone, but if I’m just listening to something, or if I have nothing else to occupy my mind, I definitely have to cover up the screen so I’m not just staring at the numbers.
Play around with speed and elevation. Move the speed by .1 every so often, up or down; it changes up your stride, makes things feel a bit more like if you were outside. Same with elevation, run a couple small hills here and there, and when you drop back to 0 incline, it’ll make you feel even faster! The treadmill is a fantastic way to make yourself focus on your form. Watch this elbows in the mirror, and check out your foot strike. Work on increasing your cadence. All of these things are more easily done on a treadmill than outside.
Close your eyes. Now, be careful, I don’t want anyone falling off the back of the treadmill because of me! If I really need to zone out, I try to run close to the front, so my hands are lightly touching the front bar, and sometimes I can zone out a bit by closing my eyes while I’m running for a couple minutes. It makes you really feel what your body is doing, and can really connect your mind and body. Be sure you keep your stomach or hands lightly touching the front though, so you don’t drift backwards or off to the side.
Count backwards by 3’s, or count forwards by 7’s. Or practice saying the alphabet backwards. Name all the states you can in alphabetic order and count them to see how many you miss. Try to recite lines in your head from your favorite movie or book or play. These mind tricks really take some concentration, and keep your mind off the task of running in place. I’ve tried all of these things, and I actually got quite good at counting backwards by 3’s and saying the alphabet backwards. Give them a try!
Put a sticky note on the treadmill with names of people or events you would like to think about or pray for during your run. Each mile, or each minute, can be for a different person or thing. This really makes your time on the treadmill feel like it’s meaning something more than just sweating and breathing hard.
Bring a friend! Running with a buddy is always funner than running solo! Running with a friend on the treadmill next to you is a surefire way to make the time go faster. Plus, if you have a friend who runs a different pace than you, this is a fantastic way to workout together without one of you having to run faster or slower than you really want to go. Win/ win!
Just think, in no time, your run will be over, and you will feel so accomplished! Treadmill runs have made me a stronger runner, not just physically, but mentally. If I can get through a tough run on a treadmill with nothing to look at and nobody to talk to, just saying states to myself trying to reach all 50 states, think about what I can do when I get to run outside!!
I’d love for you to share some of your favorite treadmill tips with me!