Double Digits on a Treadmill: How to Prepare & Survive

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tips for running double digits on a treadmill Double Digits on a Treadmill: How to Prepare & Survive

Treadmill. The word evokes strong emotion for runners. Some people love the treadmill, but most loathe it. I happen to be Team Treadmill. I will stand behind anything that can guarantee I get my run in as scheduled. No, I am not going to melt in the rain. I just have a very packed schedule and a controlled environment give me piece of mind. Most people that pound out miles on a treadmill do out of necessity not desire. That is, unless you really need to catch that new episode of Real Housewives.

We’ve all trudged out the three or five miles on an ancient hotel treadmill in the depths of some awful “gym” the hotel claimed to have during a trip. Most of us can force a run of that duration out of sheer will and getting the miles behind us. What happens when the run is double digits and there is no other option? When the choice is treadmill or no miles? Anything sounds better than foregoing a run so unfortunately the long treadmill run fate lies before you.

I had to run my first ever 20 miler on a treadmill. The South has this horrible habit of forecasting snow and ending up with a half an inch of ice on everything instead. I was fortunate the gym was even open.  I stood there in half the amount clothing I’d initially laid out, an hour later than I planned on starting, just staring at a treadmill. I had to talk myself up to even step on. This was going to be long and rough. Then I realized it didn’t have to be so awful.  This situation was a curve ball but with planning future long runs and double digits on the treadmill, I knew it really didn’t have to suck.

Do Your Homework

Your chosen treadmill could be sitting at your house, your regular gym or the chance is being taken on one you’ve never even set foot on. Either way, some information needs be gathered. As runners it becomes engrained: earlier is better.  Check the hours of access to the treadmill as some weekend vs weekday hours are different. If you are at home, check the hours of your cohabitants since treadmills can be loud. Is there Wi-Fi? A time limit on the use of the machines? A water fountain or water system? I have been at a hotel gym where you have to get the water out of the bathroom faucet. Had I known that, I’d have been able to plan and bring bottled. How many treadmills are there? Is there a potential race to get to the only one?  Gathering as much knowledge prior to is going to help you help yourself.


Running indoors means you can hop off at any point needed but it also means a man-made climate and lack of the elements. No sun beating down on you is a plus, yet it also means no breeze to keep it cool. A fan is a great invention but one blowing straight in your direction on high is only a recipe for a cold and will not keep you dry.   Keeping all that in mind, comfort is key but in this situation nothing changes on this run; speed, incline, temperature they all remain constant. The biggest item to prevent is chaffing with constant unchanging motion and moisture. This is not the time to be cute and matchy-matchy. Pick the best most effective pieces regardless of appearance and season. Think about your specific needs.  While you don’t need you hat for element protection, if you are a super- sweater you might want to think about still sporting it to keep the sweat out of your eyes.

Mentally Talk It Up

Whatever you can do to tell yourself this is going to be awesome, do it. And start as soon as it is certain this treadmill run is happening. Think about the positives that will be gained. A constant steady pace can really solidify a confidence in race pace. A run indoors means not having to deal with the negatives of the weather.  There is always a bathroom close.  Appeal to yourself.

Set Yourself Up

Get up in there and make it yours. The treadmill that is. Need three towels? One for your face, one for your arms and one to cover the screen, then use three.  Set your hydration system up. Hang your fuel belt from the treadmill or place your water bottle in the cup holder. Place any items for refuel on the floor next to you. Taking energy gels? Tape them on the machine. The bottom line is to set up your environment.  By utilizing benefits of not having to geographically travel the distance, like not having to carry your fuel, you are automatically placing positives in your environment, mental state and run.

Break it up

Breaking it up into chunks is key. Mental chunks, physical chunks, spiritual chunks, whatever type of chunk you need to use. Like to listen to music running? Break the run into chunks by playlist or Pandora station. The same thing can be done with Podcasts or Netflix episodes you “need” to get in.  The key is starting with something that will get you going, then change to something that will occupy you enough to maintain the middle duration.  The end, or where you know your motivation is going to wane, has to be the part you most look forward to.


This step is crucial as it sets up next time. If there can be something at the end you wouldn’t normally do and doesn’t have to cost much or even anything at all. Usually want to hop in the hot tub at them gym and don’t have time? Make sure to pack your suit. Usually forgo Starbucks for your own home cup? Pony up and buy yourself a cup. A small but meaningful reward can be a nice carrot when you are four miles out from the end and all hands are on deck in terms of motivating yourself.

We complain about the treadmill, yet really how lucky are we to have this as an option? Pretty lucky. If there is a struggle on the positives to be gleaned from having to pound out over 50,000 feet on a treadmill, it might just be that we have the option to use one to begin with- and complain about it.