Beat Treadmill Boredom – 5 Ways to Run Smarter

Those of you who have visited my studio know that I don’t own any cardio equipment because I prefer to offer other forms of cardio than ellipticizing and stairmastering :).  Cardio equipment has its time and place, however, and learning to run is a great example of when to consider making of the treadmill.  The treadmill can offer a little respite from the impact on your joints, and it helps your legs learn paces.

However, I know the treadmill is really boring sometimes.  When I trained for my first half marathon, I did several of my long runs and most of my speed workouts indoors on a treadmill.  Two hours.  Nonstop.  Tread.  Mill.  I can’t even read or watch TV while running because both make me feel motion sick.  During that training process, I learned a thing or five about how to make the time go by painlessly….

1. Cover the display
Bring a towel or a magazine and cover the clock.  Leave it covered.  Don’t look.  If you’re doing timed intervals, put an audible timer on using your phone and put your phone facedown.  Don’t look.  Don’t touch it.  Just take the time out of the equation.  You will be fine.

2. Change your tune
Instead of thinking “OMG ARGH HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO DO THIS,” think “Wow, I’m finally able to run for x minutes!” or “I am so glad that I’m taking this step toward reaching my goal.”  Your workout isn’t a punishment, and there are plenty of people who wish they could run but can’t.  Flip your inner script and be positive, or quit running.

3. Change your tunes
If you must run with music, set up a playlist in advance that allows you to go by songs instead of minutes.  That way, you’ll know when to change speeds or inclines without having to consult the clock.  (It’s fine if your song for a 5-minute interval is 4:48 instead of 5 minutes – don’t be overly precise unless your trainer tells you otherwise.) During my first half marathon, “Baby, One More Time” was my “power song” that came on at the end of miles 7-13. I knew I had to pick up my pace for those three minutes, and it worked like a charm because I could just follow the song and finish out each mile without having to look at my watch.

4. Focus on your form
Focus on your breathing, your toes, your hands, your shoulders, your core, and the rolling motion of your feet.  If you’re really paying attention to your form, you won’t have an opportunity to think about the time.

5. Expand your mind
Instead of music, try listening to engaging (and funny) podcasts or audio books that will give you some new ideas, or listening to comedy specials off of Netflix (they’re just as funny when you can’t see the comedians).  Alternately, use your treadmill time to mentally update your to-do list, solve a problem, plan your meals for the upcoming week, decide which circus you’ll join first, or tackle any other mental gymnastics that you’ve been putting off.  I don’t recommend this strategy for runs on the road, but on the treadmill you can distract yourself a little.

Bonus tip: Don’t skip your warm-up and cool-down
One of the reasons that using cardio machines can feel like the world’s most slow and boring death is that folks tend to skip their warm-ups and cool-downs.  If you don’t give your body time to warm up before you run, you may feel unnecessarily short of breath and stiff.  If you don’t cool down and stretch after your workout, you will feel sore and cranky (and may develop other issues over time).  If you’re in a gym, try warming up and cooling down on a different cardio machine for variety.

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