I have a confession to make….
I have a sincere LOVE-HATE relationship with the treadmill. I LOVE having the option to run on it when time is cramped or weather conditions aren’t ideal, but I HATE NOT running outside. It’s not that I hate running on the treadmill; it’s that I hate not spending that time in fresh air.
Over the years, I picked up a few ways to keep the treadmill a little more entertaining. It’s still not like being in the great outdoors, but I believe these ideas can go a long way toward making your time on the belt not so bad.
1. Get speedy!
Running one constant speed can seem very monotonous. Try speed work or intervals on the treadmill to push your time and keep your legs interested.
Start with running a half mile at your warm-up speed. For me, this is anywhere from 5.8 to 6.0 on the speed setting. After a half mile, increase your speed to just slighter faster than “comfortable.” Push yourself some. For me, this is 6.5 to 6.6. Run at this pace for a quarter of a mile. Go back to your warm-up pace, and keep repeating the progression during your workout.
This process makes the time go by faster, and you are teaching your legs to run faster! As you improve, you can increase the time you are running fast and decrease your recovery time.
2. Find a distraction.
I am very lucky to have my own treadmill with a television in front of it, so I always save my favorite show on the DVR for running time. But if I’m going to be at a gym without a television, I try to download an audiobook, an interesting podcast or a musical on my iPod. I find that the stories are more distracting than just music.
3. Break up your run with circuits.
If you just can’t imagine spending 30+ minutes on a treadmill, try breaking the run up with circuits. Set up a mat and hand weights next to the treadmill, and have a routine ready.Plan to do a series of squats, deadlifts, arm curls, planks or crunches after every mile. Stay off the treadmill for a couple of minutes doing these exercises to break up the monotony.
These exercises will even be more beneficial to you because you will be doing them while your heart rate is already up. This is a great way to get in a full body workout and plenty of miles!
4. Cover the screen.
If you are in for a long, constant-speed treadmill run, cover the clock on the treadmill. There is nothing worse than watching miles and time slowly click by while you are trying to get in a long run inside. I’ve run as much as 13 miles on a treadmill, and on those longer distances, it’s best to focus on your breathing and form, not the clock.
5. Play with the incline.
Use the incline to keep your mind and legs engaged in your run. I like to increase the incline every tenth or quarter of a mile until I can really feel the burn. Then gradually decrease the incline until you are running flat and can recover. You will stay engaged in the run, and you will burn more calories.