Note that I did not title this post: How To Make Treadmill Running Not Suck. Because I firmly believe that that is impossible. Instead, there are some ways to make treadmill running suck just a bit less. It’s still fairly boring, and it doesn’t compare to running outside at all, but with just a few tweaks, you can power through a workout.
There actually are some benefits to treadmill running over outside running. First, some say it is easier on your knees. I feel that the number one advantage of the treadmill is that weather will never be a factor. It could be raining, snowing, freezing cold or hotter than hell, but the treadmill will always be available for a run. Another advantage of the treadmill is consistency of pacing. If you’re a runner that has trouble holding a pace, the treadmill can help with that, since YOU set the pace. Additionally, doing intervals and hills can be easier on the ‘mill than outside. Intervals require a flat surface, which can be hard to find in certain areas. A treadmill can provide this. Similarly, if you live in a flat area, it can be hard to train on hills. Hop on a treadmill, increase the incline and boom! Instant hills to torture you.
However, treadmill running still sucks. It is boring. You aren’t actually moving anywhere, so you feel like a mouse on a wheel, trying to move forward but unable to do so. It gets hot. You don’t have wind blowing against you to push sweat away, so it begins to pool underneath you. If you look anywhere but forward, you may fall. Sure, this can happen when running outside, but there is something about the treadmill that just messes up your equilibrium. You don’t want to end up like this guy:
So how do you make treadmill running less sucky?
- Bring a towel – When you run outside, the wind and your movement forces the sweat to go around you. When you’re on a treadmill, there’s usually nothing blowing on you, so the sweat just drips down into your eyes and starts pooling at your feet. By bringing a towel, you can keep your face and arms somewhat dry and prevent that pooling. This will also keep the treadmill itself a bit cleaner, as you are not splashing your nasty sweat all over the place. Your fellow treadmill runners next to you will appreciate it. Of course, you could also find a treadmill with an attached fan, but I find them not powerful enough.
- Podcasts, not music – Hear me out on this one. I find listening to music not a good way to pass the time on a treadmill. Instead, I start doing mental math (i.e. “well that song was three minutes long, so I’ve probably gone a third of a mile, leaving me with six minutes until I go a full mile”) and the time continues to drag on. When I listen to a podcast, I pay attention to what is being said, not how long I’ve been running. I particularly like interactive podcasts, such as Good Job, Brain!. They cover interesting subjects and the quizzes are fun too. I find myself playing along to the quiz portion, and before I know it, the run is over.
- Cover the screen – What I mean is, stop looking at the time and distance. You don’t constantly look at your watch when running outside, so don’t stare at those metrics while on the treadmill. It will make you painfully aware of how far you’ve gone, and how much longer you have to go. Cover it with your towel, get engrossed in your podcast, and it’ll all be over soon. One of the treadmills at my apartment gym has a TV screen that can take up the full screen. I turn the treadmill on, start my run, then go full-screen so I don’t see those metrics. It really does make the time go by faster. Note: if you’re doing intervals, this doesn’t work as you need to pay attention to distance.
- Bring water – This should be obvious, but it often gets forgotten. You should always keep a bottle of water with you on the treadmill, so you don’t have to stop and get off. You could potentially lose your treadmill to a poacher, too, if the gym is crowded (we’ve all seen it happen!) So keep a water with you, drink when you need it and you should be fine.
So there you go, my tips for making treadmill running less of a pain.