Ten Tips to Beat Treadmill Boredom

Ten Tips to Beat Treadmill Boredom

You’ll hear me say this many times, but I used to love the treadmill. In my first five years of running I really only ran outside during my semester abroad in Germany, when there wasn’t access to a gym but a beautiful park full of running trails was less than a mile away. Now, I run outside unless weather prevents me from doing so. For someone who once ran a half-marathon on a treadmill, now anything more than a short three mile run feels like forever on the machine.

However, running on the treadmill sure beats not running at all because of a lightning storm and it is much preferable than slipping on ice and getting injured for the season. So here are my ten best tips to beat treadmill boredom.

Ten Tips to Beat Treadmill Boredom

1. Save something special to listen to for your treadmill runs.

Time passes faster on the treadmill if you have music or an audiobook to listen to while running. I like to save my favorite running podcasts for my treadmill runs. I can zone out and listen to the podcast without having to worry about cars or anything. Having something that I only listen to during treadmill runs makes them more exciting – even though most of me is bummed that I can’t run outside part of me is glad that I get to listen to one of the Another Mother Runner or Marathon Training Academy podcasts.


2.Mix up the incline.

When you run outside, part of what makes it exciting are the variances in wind and incline. Even on seemingly flat stretches, you are still getting a bit of terrain incline and decline (unless you are on a traditional track). Adjusting the incline on your treadmill will break up the monotony of the run, just as it does outside. Adding incline to the treadmill also mimics the demands of outdoor running more. I also find that no incline on a treadmill actually makes my muscles cramp from the repetition and varying the incline prevents this.


3. Rehearse your race course.

If you are training for a hilly race, the treadmill is a great way to practice those hills, especially if you live in a flat area. You can get online and look up the course for your race, and then mimic the incline on the treadmill. If you are training for a long race, just pick a portion of the race’s course to imitate rather than running the whole difference. This will also give you a lot of confidence when you tackle those hills on race day.


4. Plan out meals.

It’s no secret around here that I like to think about food while I run on the treadmill. Outside the scenery keeps me entertained, but on the treadmill when I can smell the coffee brewing in the kitchen, I like to think about what I want to eat. Rather than just torturing myself, I think about new recipes to try or create a meal plan for the week. The only caveat is that a lot of your meals may include bacon and peanut butter and all of the carbs (or does that only happen to me?)


5. Watch your favorite TV show.

You can also save your favorite TV shows as a way to make treadmill running more exciting. I used to love watching cheesy TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress and What Not to Wear while running on the treadmill. It keeps you entertained – just be careful to also keep an eye on your treadmill as not to run into the front of the treadmill (ummm, I only did that about 500 times. Whoops.)


6. Speed play.

If you have to run on a treadmill during a speedwork day or if you are looking for a way to get the most out of running on the treadmill, add bursts of speeds into your run to keep your mind and body entertained. Fartleks (Swedish term for speed play) are speed workouts done by time – so for example you run hard for two minutes and then jog for two minutes, and repeat this for the duration of your workout. Since the treadmill has a timer, you can easily track the time of each interval. Be sure to add a short warm-up and cool-down. Fartleks are fun and effective –  you’ll be done with your run and have had a great workout before you realize it!


7.Pretend you’re on the track.

Many treadmills have a display that shows an oval track and records how many laps you have done. Even if your treadmill doesn’t have this feature, all treadmills keep track of distance. One lap around a traditional track is 400 meters (¼ mile), so it is pretty easy to figure out how many laps you have done. Since you can easily control your speed on the treadmill, I find treadmills can be great for doing specified track workouts. One of my favorite treadmill “track” workouts is 8 x 400 meters (¼ mile) at 5K pace with ¼ mile recovery jog in between each – so after warming up with a 5-10 minute jog, I run for a quarter mile at the speed of either a recent 5K or a 5K I am training for (or, if you’re not training, a hard pace where you can only speak in single words but can repeat after recovering) and then jog ¼ mile about two minutes per mile slower, and repeat for a total of eight times.


8.Test out your fuel.

This tip is especially applicable to first time half and full marathoners. Especially if you’re new to fuel, choosing the right gel or chew can be tricky. However, you need fuel to keep you feeling strong during long training runs and the race itself. You do not want to try fuel for the first time on race day, since it can cause digestive distress. The treadmill is a great place to test out fuels – if one doesn’t sit well with you, you can easily stop and have a bathroom nearby. I find an hour long run or longer is a great distance to test fuel – take the fuel about half way through your run and note how you feel.


9. Make your easy runs easy.

While speed workouts are a great way to beat treadmill boredom, most training plans do not permit hard workouts every day. If you have to run on the treadmill during a day that your plan says should be easy, I advise against doing intervals. Easy days are made to help your body gain aerobic fitness while recovering from the hard workouts. Use the treadmill to help you keep from going too fast – set it painfully slow, then distract yourself with a podcast, TV show, or music.


10. Focus on gratitude.

I grumble a lot about having to run on the treadmill, but I find that I enjoy it a lot more if I focus on the positive. I have access to a treadmill, which is a huge privilege. I have legs that can run, when so many people can’t walk. I have healthy lungs and hearts, when so many battle cancer and disease. I have shoes on my feet, I don’t have to worry about where my post-run meal will come from, I have the freedom to run. Come up with a list during your run of things you are grateful for – not only will it pass the time but it will improve your outlook and brighten your day.


I hope you enjoy these 10 tips to beat treadmill boredom!


Question the Day:

What’s your favorite way to prevent boredom while running on the treadmill?

Sign Up for My Newsletter for More Running Tips

* indicates required

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *