Runners are notorious for trudging through some wicked weather. We stubbornly stick to our training plans as if deviating from them in any way would drastically affect our performance. Even middle of the pack runners such as myself know the guilt that accompanies a missed training run.
When the weather gets rough, we continue to power through until something gets in our way. So what keeps us motivated to stick it out through this terrible weather?
Trying to avoid treadmill boredom.
Ah, the treadmill (or dreadmill, as I refer to it in my mind).
While there are quite a few runners who find the treadmill more convenient than heading outside, a vast majority of runners seem to truly hate running on the treadmill.
It seems fairly impossible to actually enjoy running on the treadmill… why would someone willingly chose to run on a glorified hamster wheel when they could actually run a trail, experience the seasons and get some fresh air?
Despite our best efforts to avoid treadmill running, there are always a few circumstances that leave us no choice. Whether the weather is dangerously cold, windy, icy, or your schedule seems impossible and you don’t have a babysitter for the kids, sometimes facing treadmill boredom better than skipping a run.
No matter how much we avoid it, all runners find themselves on a treadmill every once and a while. Even as a fierce treadmill-avoider myself, I have found myself completing my runs indoors more often than not these past few weeks.
As the temperature reaches record lows outside and the snow piles up, I am learning to overcome the treadmill boredom, and have even surprised myself with a few decent runs.
Luckily, for those of us who suffer from severe treadmill boredom – there are actually a few ways to make treadmill running less boring.
Whether this comes as a surprise or you’ve just finished 10 miles on the treadmill and are rolling your eyes at my dramatics – it is my hope that these tips might inspire you in some way.
At some point, you’ll likely be faced with no option but running on the treadmill or skipping a run. Here are a few tips to avoid treadmill boredom and – dare I say it – actually enjoy treadmill running.
5 Ways to Avoid Treadmill Boredom
Try an interval workout.
Running at one pace for any significant distance of time can feel mind numbingly boring. While listening to music may help pass the time, it’s easy to find yourself focused on watching the numbers slowly increase. And time always seems to slow down when you’re just watching the minutes tick by.
Completing any type of interval workout is a great way to avoid treadmill boredom. Try increasing your pace every quarter mile, challenging yourself to a pyramid workout, or just increasing and decreasing the speed as you’d like throughout the run.
Changing the speed gives you something to focus on, and I bet you’ll be surprised how quickly the intervals tick by when you challenge yourself. Try a structured interval run on the treadmill to reap the speed boosting benefits while simultaneously making the treadmill more fun.
Break it up.
One of the most mentally challenging parts about running on the treadmill is being aware of how much farther you have to go. It’s easy to forget about your watch when’re running through beautiful scenery or are navigating the frequent turns in your neighborhood – but when you only options are staring at the wall in front of you or watching the numbers on the machine, you’re dealing with a pretty significant mental challenge.
Don’t be afraid to break up your run into smaller sections. If you plan to run 8 miles on the treadmill, chunk it up into four separate groups of 2 miles. Not only does this method allow you to take a quick walk for a change of scenery, but it also makes the run feel more manageable in your mind.
At the end of each part of your run, take a quick walk break, grab your water bottle or just slow down your pace for a minute or two on the treadmill. Adding a minute or two break to your workout will not affect your physical progress, but might make all the difference in your mentality.
Related: How to Have Your Best Long Run Ever
Find a distraction.
It’s no secret: running on the treadmill is boring. Regardless of how much you love to run, there’s only so much joy you can experience from running in the same place for minutes and hours on end.
To avoid unnecessary treadmill boredom, find a distraction for your time on the run. Watch your favorite TV show, save the most recent episode of your favorite podcast, or make a peppy playlist for your next treadmill run. When I was in college, I used to study on the treadmill and spent my time memorizing facts for class.
Whatever keeps your mind off the numbers in front of you will work. And if you can find something productive to do while running, it’s a win win!
Focus on cadence and form.
While treadmill running is not the most exciting, it presents the perfect opportunity to focus on your form. With a controlled speed, incline and environment, you’ve created an ideal situation for improvement.
Trying to increase your cadence or run with correct form can be very challenging outside, when you’re faced with uneven terrain and changes in elevation. Make the most of your treadmill run by challenging yourself to run with proper form, adjust your cadence, decrease your stride length, practice a mid-foot strike, or anything else you can think of.
With your mind focused elsewhere, you’ll likely find that your time on the treadmill goes by much quicker than usual.
Increase the incline.
Many runners assume that when they’re running on the treadmill, they’ll get a fast, flat workout. While that’s certainly a possibility, there are plenty of options to change up the routine. Most treadmills have the option to increase or decrease the incline, presenting a perfect opportunity to fit in a great hill workout.
With the ability to control the percentage of incline, you’ll be able to easily practice running up a hill and strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. Practice your form while running at an incline or burn massive calories in little time. The options are endless!
Bonus: Try out BitGym!
BitGym is an app that helps make any treadmill run into a fun and exciting adventure. The app provides scenic tours from all over the world! They currently featuring 200 tours in places such as Edinburg, Costa Rica, Santorini and more. Each tour provides trail facts so you can learn about the places you’re “visiting”, as well as the option for guided tours to help coach you through the run.
The free option allows for 7 full length tours. No signup is required, so any runner can test out BitGym by simply downloading the app. In the weeks and training seasons where running on the treadmill is the only option, something as simple as viewing and learning about a new place can really add some excitement to your running.
Download and try BitGym for free, here!
While a treadmill run might be your last resort during training season, it certainly provide us with a different set of opportunities than we find outdoors. Make the most of your time on the treadmill by playing with speed or incline, improving your form, or catching up on your favorite daytime TV show.
If nothing else, you’ll know that you are gaining incredible mental strength for powering through all those miles inside. When things warm up or your schedule clears up, you’ll be able to appreciate those outdoor runs even more.
The worst thing you can do when faced with a treadmill run is focus on how much you hate it. Make the most of treadmill running and you might just find yourself avoiding treadmill boredom altogether!