Treadmill Tip of the Week: Boredom Busters for Easy Runs

Bored on the treadmill?

When you have an interval workout on your training plan and nowhere to do it but the treadmill, I bet you’re not worried about boredom. After a tedious warm-up during which we wonder how we’ll ever manage to accomplish it, it’s not uncommon toย find the miles fly by. But an easy run, especially a longish one? Boring. City.

Sure, you could set it and try to forget it for those six, seven, eight miles. But, after many weeks of treadmill running, that gets old, really old. What’s a bored treadmill runner to do?

Instead of running all those miles at the same pace or upping the pace at the same points you do for every easy run, try one of these easy run “workouts” to mix it up and make the time go by.

The Two-Three Hustle

As we’ve mentioned many times now, we all have a range of paces that qualify as easy for us. On a day you can do little more than shuffle through a post-hard run recovery, try this:

Start a few miles per hour slower than usual and run for 2:00. Then, up that pace by .5 miles per hour and hold it stead for 3:00. Then, bump the pace down by .4 miles per hour for 2:00 and then back up for 3:00 again and repeat. When you reach the end of 15:00, bump the pace down .6 and start over for the next 15:00 and so on and so forth.

Here’s an example of a 60 minute easy run:

First 15:00Second 15:00Third 15:00Fourth 15:00
2:00 @ 6.5, 3:00 @ 7.02:00 @ 6.6, 3:00 @ 7.1
2:00 @ 6.7, 3:00 @ 7.2
2:00 @ 6.8, 3:00 @ 7.3
2:00 @ 6.6, 3:00 @ 7.1
2:00 @ 6.7, 3:00 @ 7.2
2:00 @ 6.8, 3:00 @ 7.32:00 @ 6.9, 3:00 @ 7.4
2:00 @ 6.7, 3:00 @ 7.2
2:00 @ 6.8, 3:00 @ 7.3
2:00 @ 6.9, 3:00 @ 7.42:00 @ 7.0, 3:00 @ 7.5

Little Hills

Another way to stay interested without changing the speed is to do regular incline adjustments. One simple one I like to do is to do 5:00 at a solidly easy pace at 0% grade and then, without changing the pace, 1:00 at 1%, 1:00 at 2%, 1:00 at 3%, 1:00 at 4% and 1:00 at 5%, and then back down to 0% for 5:00 and repeating until my run is done. The hills are only hardish for a short time and if you keep the pace solidly easy, it’s a good strength building run that won’t wreck you.

The Paceย Shuffle

treadmill pace shuffleYou know how to really make a treadmill run fly? Randomize it! There are lots of ways to do this, but by far the simplest way is to make a deck of cards that tell you what to do and shuffle! Our favorite way is to write the following on each card:

  1. Time interval between 1:00 and 5:00
  2. Pace in miles per hour within your easy range
  3. Incline of 0% – 6%

We find old business cards or notecards are perfect for this. To ensure you keep the run easy, make sure that at least half the cards are at your normal treadmill grade, and half at a very easy pace. When making a card with 4-6% incline, make sure to make the pace slow and make these cards the short time interval ones. The more cards you make, the more random and entertaining the run will be!

Do you have a tried and true easy run boredom buster?

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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8 comments

  1. Great tips. Love the photo ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve done all of these at some point. My other go-to is running with music and changing the pace based on the song that comes on.

    1. Yes I will totally do that! Put my ipod on shuffle and if it’s a slower song I’ll chill at a recovery pace and if it’s faster song I’ll do closer to the fast end of easy range. This works really well for Fartleks too!

  2. I usually do a progression run when I have an “easy long” on the schedule. I don’t mean you end up sprinting at the end, but you start slow and as you get going you increase the pace or incline by one or two points. It’s a great way to increase your easy run pace without noticing it.
    I also beat boredom with podcasts. I love them and can just cruise when a good one has my attention ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. All the entertainment stops being enough of an incentive on its own by late in the winter, so I need other mental tricks to not hate life. I almost always do some sort of progression on the treadmill too. It’s hard not to. I don’t know about you, but to be truly comfortable I have to start significantly slower than a pace I’d start outside on the mill. So if I’d normally start out at 8:45, on the mill I’m starting out at 9:15-9:30 and then working my way down to somewhere on the faster end of my normal easy range.

  3. Hehehehehe. I like the picture, Salty ๐Ÿ™‚ Cracked me up! Slow runs are tough on the treadmill. I will follow these tips when I hop back on when the weather stinks again! Thanks!