The treadmill. AKA the “dreadmill.” It can be a runner’s best friend or worst enemy.
I used to hate it. For me, the joys of running include enjoying the great outdoors and soaking in the fresh air. A run inside on the treadmill doesn’t have those perks. Not to mention the whole stationary thing.
However, like most runners, I see how the “dreadmill” can be a valuable tool. Sometimes, it’s too hot/cold/rainy/windy/snowy/icy/dark to run outside. And if I had to choose between running on the treadmill or not running at all, the treadmill always wins.
But I didn’t always feel this way. I used to loathe the treadmill with a passion. I’d often cut my workout short because I was so bored and eager to get off the darn thing. Then one winter, I decided to train for a marathon. Since I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold, it was either do some runs on the treadmill or kiss my marathon dreams goodbye. I chose to make peace with the treadmill. And you can, too:
- Think in intervals. Break up your run into intervals. When I do a treadmill run at a steady pace, I vary my incline every 0.25 miles (between a 1.0-2.0 incline). This way, the workout seems like a bunch of quick intervals instead of miles that drag on . . . and on. I also change up my speed every minute or every mile. This keeps things interesting and makes time tick by a little faster.
- Welcome distractions. There’s a reason why TVs are placed in front of treadmills at most gyms. Catching up with Matt and Al on the Today Show will make you forget that you’re only one mile into your five mile run. No TV near your treadmill? No sweat! Crank up your iPod and run with Gaga. She’ll make you forget that your lungs are burning.
- Play mind games. Mental tricks can help you cross the imaginary finish line. Don’t allow yourself to have Starbucks unless you finish your workout. A treadmill run will be much easier than skipping your morning latte.
- Get competitive. Do you run a 5k every week? If so, try to beat last week’s time by a few seconds. Do this and not only will you become a faster runner, but you’ll spend less time on the dreaded treadmill, too. If you’re not in the mood to one-up yourself, race the person next to you. Sure, you might not know his or her pace, but that’s just a minor detail.
You may never fall in love with treadmill running or even enjoy it. But I guarantee some quality time with the treadmill will make you cherish your outdoor runs so much more.