I was going to call this post, "How to Make Your Treadmill Runs Fun," but ultimately decided that I didn't want to over promise and under deliver. Fun is strong word. I suspected you would question my sanity if I used the words 'fun' and 'treadmill' in the same sentence.
Let's just agree on, "How to Make Your Treadmill Runs Not Suck."
I love outdoor running. I never had the kind of love for treadmill running as I do for the outdoors. However, I have to admit there are many good reasons to use the treadmill: They allow you to have strict control over your speed and time, they provide shelter from the weather, and a safe environment to run, day or night. They are great for speed work training. The problem is that is that treadmills can be mind-numbingly boring. No one likes to feel like a hamster, going nowhere.
The thing is, you may be going nowhere is terms of physical space, but treadmill runs can help you meet your running goals. If your goal is to run faster, treadmills can bring you places.
1. Hide the Clock:
First and foremost, hide that clock. Staring at the seconds tick by on the clock will make the time seem like it is moving backwards. Only on the treadmill can five minutes feel like an eternity. I always cover the screen with a towel or a sweatshirt. Sometimes I measure the time passed by the number of songs I've heard on my iPod. One song generally equals three minutes, but sometimes songs are slightly longer, or I lose track of how many songs I heard, so I end up underestimating the time. It is a great feeling when you think you have eight more minutes to go, but you actually only have two.
Music. I wouldn't dare step on the treadmill without some upbeat music to distract my brain. Unlike outdoor running, the last thing I want to be alone with on the treadmill is my thoughts. I have a special playlist on my iPod called treadmill running that only has really fast songs. The faster the beat of the song, the faster my pace. Music puts me in a good mood and helps counteract the pain of the treadmill.
TV: I love the TVs at the gym that display the closed captions on the screen. Before you choose a treadmill, be sure you are getting in front of a TV that has a program that is interesting to you, nothing will bore you faster than a thirty minute infomercial for a no-pinch bra. I've been there.
My sister says she downloads her favorite shows to her iPad and only allows herself to watch the latest episode on the treadmill. She says she looks forward to the treadmill and the miles fly by because she is so engrossed in the show, often staying on the treadmill longer than planned to see what happens.
It may sound strange, but repeating a positive thought in your head over and over can go a long way in drowning out the negative thoughts, especially during the high intensity portions of your run. I like silly poems that rhyme (like below), but you should use whatever works for you. Here is a Runner's World post on mantras for some more good ideas.
I can do this
I can run,
I can make
the treadmill fun!
you won't last.
I am winning,
I run fast.
To make your treadmill runs suck less, I recommend sticking to short but effective interval workouts. I have a deep respect for those tough-minded people who can run 10 miles on a treadmill. I can't do it. I save the long tuns for outdoors and do my shorter speed work sessions inside. Intervals help break up the time into manageable portions. If you do 20-30 minute speed intervals on the treadmill you will find that you are focusing only on the minute that you are currently working in, not the overall workout. So instead of stepping on the treadmill and thinking, 'Oh gosh, I still have 19 minutes and 30 seconds to go until I am done,' you will be thinking, 'Only 30 seconds until my next interval.' It goes a long way mentally when you vary the speed and intensity of your workout.
|This is just an example. Adjust the speeds up or down to fit your current fitness level|
If you are lucky enough to have friends who run, the best way I know to make a treadmill run not suck is to run with a friend. I love to get on the treadmill next to a friend and chat the time away. We take turns doing speed work; When I am on a fast interval, she does the talking and I nod and smile (because I am unable to speak) and then we switch. You can get an interval workout in and catch up with a friend. Just don't spend the time complaining to each other about it, keep it upbeat and positive.
Remember that making a treadmill run not suck is mostly about conquering your mind. For me, it is more of a mental battle than a physical one. When I finish a high intensity treadmill run, I usually step off the
How about you? How do you make your treadmill runs not suck?
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