5 Ways to Enjoy the Treadmill
Running on the treadmill can be a runner’s worst nightmare. And it’s totally understandable! Running in the same place with no change of scenery, anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+hours can be extremely daunting. Ever heard the question, “What’s longer a microwave minute or a treadmill minute”? It’s true, if a runner needs to track time, the treadmill workout can seem to be never ending. If you think back to the treadmill’s original purpose, the boredom and awful feeling a runner feels when climbing onto it makes complete and utter sense.
Did you know, in 1817 a British engineer by the name of William Cubitt invented the first human powered treadmill (called the treadwheel at the time)? These were designed to help with manual labor in the prison system. Prisoners would climb aboard and step, step, step, to produce man-power from the spinning wheel. These wheels could be used to pump water or grind corn. Kinda crazy right? Maybe your dread of the tread makes sense now.
Depicted below is Brixton Prison in London. This was one of the first prisons to utilize treadmills in 1821.
(Photo Courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Even though, treadmill’s were created to provide punishment, your workouts on them don’t have to be torture. In fact, you can actually enjoy your treadmill runs. Running on a treadmill provides a lot of good benefits. For example, many treadmills (at gyms) are positioned in front of mirrors. Watching yourself in the mirror is probably one of the best ways to check and adjust your form. Running on a treadmill is also helpful to your joints in the long run, due to a flexible surface (as opposed to pavement or concrete). The treadmill is also an extremely accurate way to track exactly what your running, at what pace, at what incline, and at what speed.
In order to change your feelings about treadmill workouts, you must change your mindset. The easiest way to do this is to find ways to keep you brain busy, your mind occupied, and to find creative ways to enjoy your workout. Below are some ideas to try out the next time you run on a treadmill:
Use This Time To Catch-Up on or Re-Watch Your Favorite TV Show
Without fail, we clear our calendars every Sunday night between 9pm-10pm EST to watch Game of Thrones. Why do we do this? Because we LOVE LOVE LOVE the TV show. Do you love love love the treadmill? Probably not. What better way to enjoy something you hate than to pop on your favorite TV show and zone out.
Listen to a Podcast
Podcast are available on almost any topic imaginable. Looking for the latest political debate? Check out a podcast. Looking for updates on your favorite celebrity? Check out a podcast. Looking for stand-up comedy? Check out a podcast. You’ll be so into the conversations you’re listening to that you won’t even notice how long you’ve been running for.
Complete a Fartlek Workout
I know you’re thinking, “Huh, a Fartlek? What is that?” A Fartlek is a Swedish term meaning “speed play”. A Fartlek workout is a non-structured period of running where you speed up and slow down at random times. A fun way to do this on a treadmill is switch from running pace to jogging pace every time something specific happens. For example, anytime you hear a grunting noise or anytime you see someone walk by who is wearing red or anytime anew song comes on. This type of workout is unpredictable which means it keeps your mind engaged and your body on edge.
Complete a “Boil the Frog” Workout
And now you’re thinking, “So, you want me to cook myself to death”? Well, no. Not exactly. Most people have heard the old and slightly creepy cautionary tale of the boiling frog. The warning goes that if you plunk a frog a boiling pot of water, he will immediately jump right out. However, if you plunk the same frog in a cool pot of water and raise the temperature slowly, he will inevitably boil himself to death not realizing the temperature has increased. Though it has been proven false, this is a great way to conduct a treadmill workout. Begin the workout running at a comfortable speed. Every 5 to 6 minutes, increase the machines incline by .5 and increase you speed by roughly 10 seconds. If you consistently do this for 30 minutes, by the end of your workout, you will be running on a 3 percent higher incline and will be running faster by 1 minute per mile. Do the same thing, in reverse order (reduce incline and speed), to slowly go back to your starting speed.
Play Games (In Your Head)
Do you remember as a kid (or if you currently have kids), the long-car ride games you would play? You know the one’s I’m talking about, “We’re going to grandma’s house and we’re bringing…” or “We’re going on a picnic and we’re bringing…” and then you begin to list items alphabetically. This is a super fun way to distract your mind while running on the treadmill. Update the topics to celebrity names from A-Z or movie titles from A-Z or race day essentials from A-Z. The topics are truly endless.
Though they were not designed to give pleasure, your treadmill workouts do not have to be torture. Treadmill workouts will always be a part of a runner’s life. As such, find whatever creative distraction you can to make the workouts a fun and not dreary experience.