6 Tips To Beat Treadmill Boredom

It’s been a bit chilly outside here lately and I’ve been putting down a lot of indoor miles…and yes, I do like it! I never feel bad about staying indoors to run. Sometimes, it’s just what I feel like doing. Sometimes it’s not safe to run outside. It’s too dark, too icy, too hot, too cold. Sometimes (like now, if you’re in the northeast) you just don’t WANT to deal with the windburn that accompanies outdoor running. There are countless reasons why someone might prefer to stay indoors for a run. Because I constantly proclaim my love for the treadmill, a couple people have asked me for tips on enjoying indoor running.

how to love the treadmill

A rockin’ playlist. It has to be REALLY good. So good that you find yourself looking forward to running just so you can listen to it. Download some new songs and don’t let yourself push play until you’re on the treadmill. Another option? An I-can’t-put-it-down audio book or podcast.

Incorporate speedwork or intervalsLong, slow runs on the treadmill aren’t my favorite. But intervals? YES. Changing up the pace makes time fly. There’s not much time to focus on anything else. You’re watching the time or mileage but only because you’re tracking the intervals. Which brings me to #3…

Cover the time. If you’re running long intervals or have to do an easy or tempo run on the treadmill, use a towel to cover up the time/mileage. “Zone out” like you would outdoors. Watching each second tick off is torture.

People watch. If you’re at a gym, find a treadmill in a busy area if possible. More action = more people-watching = more of a distraction. I like to find one near the free weight area of my gym because I can get ideas for new movements and different workouts from other gym-goers. If you have access to a TV or iPad, a show or movie can always boost your mood and help avoid boredom. Just make sure you’re still paying attention to your workout and how you’re feeling – if I have a tough training workout I’ll skip the TV.

Bring a friend. The best thing about treadmill running is that you can run with friends regardless of pace. Have a speedy friend you just can’t keep up with outdoors? Plan a treadmill date. Having a friend to chat with is way more entertaining. Sometimes friends and I will start games  of “I Spy” circa car trips when you were 9. Whatever works, right?

indoor triathlon

Change your attitude. Stop calling it the “dreadmill”. Stop talking about how much you hate it or how much you’re dreading the workout. Think about how it will help you run a more consistent pace (no more staring at your Garmin!), how you can easily add hill training into your workout (or remove it, if need be!), or how you don’t have to worry about the weather AT ALL. Plus, it will certainly help you build your mental strength, which will come in handy during your next “is this almost over?!” race.

Some of my favorite treadmill workouts:

40 minute treadmill speed workout

Treadmill progression run

Quick 10-minute treadmill intervals

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As for my updates, I’m just enjoying my Sunday! Brendan and I started the morning by cooking some scrambled eggs (while listening to Billy Joel’s “Last Play at Shea” concert!) and sipping some coffee (well, I did…he’s a coffee-hater. I know, WTF). Now that football season is over it’s been so wonderful starting our mornings together. During the season he’s out the door before 6AM – even on weekends!

There he is in action - on the right!

There he is in action – with the clipboard on the right! I’m a proud fiancé.

He found a website that lists every term in “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and explains what each means. He decided to quiz me on the historical significance of them all and I surprisingly did better than I thought! #EducationalSundays

That’s all I’ve got for now!

Are you a treadmill lover or hater? What’s been your longest indoor run? (Mine = 9 miles.) Favorite running workout? Favorite Billy Joel song?!

I’m a writer currently living in Los Angeles and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!
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11 Comments

  1. January 27, 2014 / 1:35 am

    I loved The Last Play At Shea! Awesome concert.
    I’ve been making the most out of the treadmill lately. I am doing Ragnar in Florida in less than two weeks so it’s pointless to run in the cold when I’ll be dealing with much warmer temps! I definitely try to mix up my pace, and usually try to push the pace in the last stretch. Music is a big help!

    • January 27, 2014 / 5:27 pm

      It was such a good show! Brendan saw it live but I’m stuck watching the video :) Have you done a Ragnar Relay before? They are so fun! I bet running indoors will help since it’s going to be warm in Florida. It’s certainly an adjustment!

      • January 29, 2014 / 12:21 am

        This will be my fourth Ragnar! And last week I found out I will be doing Bourbon Chase in October. I love relays!

  2. William Rogers
    January 27, 2014 / 11:29 am

    Great read Kara. I always remembered Brian listening to Billy Joel. Or maybe I have that wrong? My key to being on a treadmill is to have it parked in front of my big screen and watch the First 48 or a history show that keeps me glued. If I dont have a decent distraction I find myself stepping off a couple minutes early. But I have pushed myself to get on it daily and to cut out the processed food ( for a while! )

    • January 27, 2014 / 5:29 pm

      Thanks! I know my Mom likes him…Brian probably does too!

      A good TV show always gives me an incentive to stay on…I just have to be careful that I’m paying attention so I don’t fly off the treadmill. I’m clumsy like that, haha! And also, that’s so awesome that you’re making so many positive changes, woohoo!! So proud :)

  3. January 27, 2014 / 4:25 pm

    I kind of love the treadmill too. It’s nice to see someone else that doesn’t mind it!

    All of my runs have been on the treadmill recently and it’s been fine, it’s practically the only way I will run in the winter. I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold.

    I’ve done up to 16 miles on the treadmill before, good thing I’m not marathon training this year!

    • January 27, 2014 / 5:31 pm

      Same here! Once I’m outside I’m usually okay, but it’s really hard for me to convince myself to get out there, haha.

      16 on the treadmill?! You’re my hero!!

  4. Beth
    January 31, 2014 / 7:00 pm

    UGH! I WISH I could have your positive attitude and not think of it as the dreadmill. But for me, it’s the absolute LAST RESORT! I did one treadmill run last week because it was “freeze your face off” cold and I was honestly terrifed.I did that one in an apartment gym with windows and friends and it, honestly, wasn’t so bad. I did one this week that was just plain awful. Apartment gym. No windows. A friend for only the last mile and a half. It was a tempo run and I literally watched each minute tick by. It was pretty terrible but at least I still had skin on my face. I took it back outside yesterday and while it was still pretty cold it was SO MUCH BETTER. Maybe you can teach me your ways! And I loved Last Play at Shea. Maybe one of my favorite Billy Joel concerts. Great job making the treadmill work and getting your runs in!

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  6. February 4, 2014 / 3:57 pm

    I actually REALLY love the treadmill. What a nerd, right? I like it so I can multitask. And listen to music really loudly. I don’t really use headphones outdoors for safety reasons since I live in the city.

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