Making the Most of Your Treadmill Run

Posted on October 27, 2010


Honestly, who likes running on a treadmill?  If you say, “I do,” I swear to God I will punch you in the face.  Ok, I am too nice of a guy to ever do that but I would seriously think about it.  When Rachel and I first started running we did all of our runs on a treadmill.  We chose to believe that it was just more fun than running outside and facing nature’s various elements.  However, when we finally made the leap to outdoor running the treadmill suddenly seemed, for lack of a better word, boring.  Unfortunately, sometimes running on a treadmill is necessary so I thought of some ways you might make the most of your treadmill run. (Thanks to for coming up with the idea for this post.)

First and foremost, find some way to keep yourself distracted on your long monotonous run.  Usually an iPod works well for this situation, but it doesn’t provide much for the whole visual aspect of entertainment.  Now I would love to tell you that you should do your best to get lost in the run and allow your mind to drift into a special place while you listen to the melodic sounds emanating from your iPod.  But, we all know I would be full of crap.  Running in place is as ridiculous as a milkshake (yum) with crappy ice cream.  It’s boring and shouldn’t be done, but like I said before, sometimes it’s a must.  Thus, a little visual stimulation can go a long way.  If you are running in a gym then you are lucky because most treadmills have views of a television.  If you are at home then I suggest moving that bad boy of a treadmill to a place where a television is in sight.  However, I don’t suggest staring at the television the whole time.  Trust me on this.  I have, more than once, nearly fallen off the treadmill in the gym because I was staring at the television way too long.  Nonetheless, Rachel and I have both agreed that when the television is on the run goes by so much faster.  It’s just a great distraction, even if you can’t hear it.  I usually turn on the captions if possible.  Again, be careful because reading, watching and running can make for a deadly combination.

I know that iPods and televisions are obvious distractions so I suggest taking a more active approach during your treadmill run.  Instead of running at the same speed for say 30 minutes, increase the speed every two minutes for 30 seconds.  This is a tactic we employed after Rachel read it in a magazine.  It is actually supposed to increase your endurance among other things, but we use it as a means to generate life into a boring run.  Usually I will start my run at 7 mph and run at that speed for at least 3 minutes.  When I reach 3 minutes I increase the speed to 8 mph and run until 3:30 and then bring my speed back down to 7 mph.  I usually increase the speed again at every odd number.  Of course you can increase/decrease the speed to something that works well for you. You can also do a variation of running and walking using the same idea.  Not only does it allow the workout to go more quickly, it actually makes you a faster more productive runner.  Most of all, it gives you a distraction.  I know it can make you more cognizant of the time, but overall it makes for a more exciting and beneficial workout. 

In addition, change up your treadmill workout daily.  It gets old doing the same thing over and over.  Make a commitment to walk one day on an incline.  Try to go at a moderate pace that allows your heart rate to get up and stay up consistently.  The next day try and run the whole time, even if you’re only running at 4 mph.  The point of running is not always to go fast; it’s just to keep moving.  Varying your workout keeps things interesting and prevents it from becoming repetitive. 

Last but not least, if you have kids why not have them run back and forth by the treadmill every few minutes to give you the illusion you are running outside.  You can even have them wear different things for a more dramatic and realistic effect.  Hey, I’m just trying to help.  Ok, ok, I’m just kidding…but seriously.

Running on a treadmill is never going to be very exciting.  But, you need to do your best to make the most of it.  Whenever you find yourself getting bored on that treadmill and you’re looking for something to keep you going just think to yourself, “You know what, at least I’m running.”