Treadmill Tip of The Week: Let Us Entertain You!

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Welcome to the SaltyValu™ Critic’s Choice Awards for Treadmill Entertainment! Live from the treadmill belt runway, I’m your host, Chicory and I’ll generously spare you the bad political jokes during my hosting duties today. Salty Running is coming to you with another series of treadmill tips this year, including this one: our personally curated, but sadly not artisanal nor bespoke, list of the top audio and video entertainment options to keep Bertha from talking you out of a treadmill run.

Our Top Tips for Treadmill Distractions

1. Reserve your show, podcast, or audiobook of choice for treadmill running.

Pick a series that you might not get to watch or listen to otherwise and save it for the treadmill. The goal is to find something so good that you WANT to get on the treadmill.

2. Find what works for you.

Some Salties only like to watch things they’ve seen already for fear they either get too into a show or that they miss key parts. I have to watch something new and engaging. Frequently with car chases. This also applies to figuring out if you like television shows vs. movies, or audio-only like podcasts or audiobooks. Regular television has commercials and there is nothing worse than being trapped on the treadmill during a commercial break. And since the breaks get longer and more frequent as the show progresses, it will, in fact, be true that the commercials seem to take forever as you near the end of a run. Movies, for me, are too long. I need the plot to move quicker so I stay engaged. A television show (or three) with no commercials does the trick.

3. Perfect your tech set-up.

A pair of wireless headphones and an iPad is the best combo in my opinion. I just got my first pair of wireless headphones and I am obsessed. They pair via Bluetooth to my phone or iPad and the sound is magically in my ears with no cord bouncing around my chest, tangling in my fingers and then sending my phone flying onto the floor. Then I stream television shows on my iPad or my phone if I didn’t bring the tablet.

Now for the awards!

Our Nominees for Best Podcast

In no particular order are …

How I Built This

From NPR — my current obsession and I frequently get angry there’s only one episode a week and no backlog to binge on. Definitely loved the Zumba and Patagonia episodes.

Finding Mastery

Hosted by a renowned “high performance” psychologist, Michael Gervais, with guests from all walks of life talking about how they became masters of their crafts, whatever it may be. The interviews are really diverse so you can dive in by picking the shows that sound most interesting to you. Rich Roll is a good place to start.

Serial

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2013, you might have heard of this gem by the makers of This American Life. Serial unfolds a true story over the course of a whole season, so start with episode one of either season and listen sequentially through the season or you’ll be hella confused. Think murder-mystery, riveting plots.

Run to the Top

This is Runners Connect‘s podcast hosted by Brit and one-time Salty Running contributor, Tina Muir. If you can get past the intro that sounds like a Monster Truck rally and absolutely nothing like Tina’s warm friendly accent, she hosts some great interviews with other runners and running-related professionals. Her recent piece with Alicia (Shay) Vargo got me through the warm up and cool down of a long speed session on the treadmill.

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The treadmill will be fun when you run with Salty, Cinnamon, and Lindsey Hein!

I’ll Have Another

Competitive mother runner Lindsey Hein’s podcast features interviews with everyone from pro runners to social media stars. The idea is that the podcast will feel like you’re on a run with her and her guest. Start with episode 8 featuring Salty and Cinnamon of [drumroll] Salty Running!, or the first episode with Lindsey’s good pal Barley (who turned us on to her show). There’s episodes with NYC Running Mama, Michelle Gonzalez, plus Sarah Hall, Alysia Montano and Shalane Flanagan among many others.

Final Surge

Another running-related podcast, focuses a lot on the technical side of training, racing and injury prevention. Includes interviews with a lot of well-known coaches and running gurus, along with our own Salty a while back.

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me

This weekly news quiz from NPR will make you laugh and catch you up on the week’s events.

Honorable mention for political buffs like Salty:

Try NPR’s On Point, NPR Politics, or Slate’s Political Gabfest (these are more on the left side of the spectrum. Would love good recs for the right!)

Our Nominees for Best Television Series

Orphan Black

I first heard about this show on another runner’s blog and threw it onto my queue for Amazon Prime. I was instantly hooked. This is the show that kept me coming back to the treadmill … until I watched the first three seasons and Amazon Prime wants me to pay for the fourth. (Has anyone seen the fourth season? Is it worth $25?)

Covert Affairs

My favorite show of all time. ALL TIME. But, it was a little under-the-radar and a lot of people haven’t seen it, so it’ll be new to you! It’s the story of a badass covert operative named Annie Walker. I just started rewatching it again on the treadmill. Watch it!

Gossip Girl

A teen drama that ran from 2007-2012. Fun and well-written, but superficial enough that you can zone out and still follow along.

Scandal

A political thriller focused on a crisis-management firm that works with the White House. It’s five seasons of two dozen episodes a piece with a sixth season coming, so plenty of episodes to catch up on.

Lost

Another throw-back. Salty says, “I think Lost is the best treadmill show I’ve ever discovered, because it struck a perfect balance between being action-packed without requiring a lot of mental focus.”

Breaking Bad

Even if you haven’t watched the show, you probably know about it. Crime drama centered around a high school chemistry teacher turned meth maker.

Just Jillian

A reality show about the life of Jillian Michaels, obviously. Features her long-time partner and their two kids, and a lot of pets and barnyard animals. It’s an interesting behind-the-scenes into a uber-successful entrepreneur known for being a hard ass.

Archangel

An old three-episode drama from 2005 that I stumbled upon and found to be perfect for a long run. A Russian thriller that involves secret police, Soviet archives and Stalin’s secret notebook.

Friends

Pumpkin says, “If I can’t think of anything else, I will watch episodes of Friends, because I can watch those over and over.”

Law & Order

Barley and Cinnamon both nominated this show, which is great because it seems to be on 24/7. Cinnamon says, “It’s good to watch something formulaic. I like L&O because I can play little games, like I speed up during the commercials.”

Honorable Mention: Pimento’s Picks

She’s a treadmill master who has watched four entire series start to finish in the last year — that’s series, not seasons: “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Six Feet Under”, “Sex & the City” and “Transparent”. She also likes “Fleabag” and “Goliath”, plus “Downton Abbey” and “Poldark” from PBS.

Our Nominees for Best Audiobooks

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Audiobooks = less dangerous.

While you can’t read on the treadmill like you read your homework on the elliptical in college, you can “read” and run by listening to audiobooks. You can purchase audiobooks on Amazon or through apps like Audible. But, even better, many local libraries have audiobooks you can “check out” for free!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Psychologoical thriller about a girl, on a train, who sees the same couple day after day. One day, she sees something shocking and is compelled to tell the police. Described as Hitchcockian by many (we didn’t make that word up), and named last year’s audiobook of the year. Also a movie if you’d rather go that route.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling

Hysterical book narrated by Mindy herself.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

One of my all-time favorite books, the kind you give as a gift year after year to different people.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

This is only an hour and 45 minutes long, but perfect for a long run, and you can feel twice as uppity since you ran for almost two hours on the treadmill and took in a classic novel at the same time.

Our Honorary Lifetime Badass Idea Award Goes to …

Ginger’s idea to run on the treadmill with no entertainment to build mental toughness!

Don’t let your fear of boredom talk you out of getting a run in. Queue some of these shows, podcasts, books up in your playlists and get on the treadmill, Bertha!

What’s your favorite treadmill entertainment? 

Started running in my early 20s and ended up running my first marathon 15 months later. Managed to break 3 hours in my 12th marathon. Pilates instructor passionate about the importance of your powerhouse in running and the mind/body connection. One husband, zero kids, mama to one Australian Shepherd.

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24 comments

  1. I LOVE Just Jillian and am so sad it was cancelled! She has a podcast too-The Jillian Michaels show-which is really funny and interesting. She’s definitely different from her Biggest Loser persona.

  2. Okay, don’t judge. Dance movies/shows. Dance Academy (yes, I know it’s really YA), Save the Last Dance, Stomp the Yard, Glee, Step Up, the Bring it On Series (I know they’re just cheerleaders, but they can dance too)! The music helps get me going, the plots are always easy to space out on and return to, and there is no way my husband wants to watch them = perfect treadmill fodder. Love the tip about Jillian’s show- will have to check it ou!

      1. I will run during a college basketball game and make it a game as well. Say I am at 8:30 Pace for 2 miles and if the broadcast goes to commercial I CRANK IT UP to 7:30 for the commercial then back to Pace – moving the BASE pace every 2 miles for the goal distance of the day. Makes you work during the crap portion of the broadcast. TOM

        1. I love running during football…I will do it during basketball too but struggle a little. I’m the person who sits on edge of seat and jumps/leans when big shots get thrown….I’ve nearly thrown myself off the treadmill a time or two during heated basketball games with lots of 3 point shots!

    1. Wait, dance shows don’t make you want to dance and thereby cause you fall off the treadmill? I swear I start to flail wildly when I watch a dance show while running. Also, I’d totally add Billy Elliot and Center Stage to that list. Heh. #retireddancer #guiltypleasure

      1. I haven’t seen Center Stage- will totally get on that! If you have Netflix, check out Ballet 422. Total dance nerd joy!

  3. The best discovery for my treadmill running was finding out that King of the Hill and The Cleveland Show reruns come on at 5:30 PM, right when I’m off work and hitting the gym :). Besides that, I’ve had to do long runs on the ‘mill and put on a good movie (Will Ferrell comedies are the best) to get through it. It’s really not so bad.

      1. Since having kids I do not have the attention span for movies. So weird, I know. But was a bit of an indie film buff before kids and after I’ve only seen a handful of kids movies.

  4. I love so many of these suggestions! The recent change with Netflix (at least in Canada) is that we can download the show! I have shoddy wifi in my gym, so this is a game changer!

    Treadmill runners, unite!

  5. Just listened to the most recent How I Built This last night for a quick three miles on the treadmill. It was the perfect length for a short run (that’s about all I can handle on the treadmill). I ditto Law & Order, it’s easy to get into and you forget about your run while following the “mystery”! You need the right balance of engaging, but doesn’t require 100% of your attention.

  6. Running on Om podcast!!! This podcast is amazing and is absolutely perfect for runs lasting over an hour. The first episodes are short as the host was learning how to put together a good podcast. Julia has such a soothing voice and is more of a facilitator, than host, allowing more amazing conversations and stories to flow through from guests–way better than a typical question-answer format.

    I always have them on a playlist for long runs and road trips.

    1. Yes! I was so sad when she ended the show. But there’s a huge backlog to catch up on!

      I also highly recommend Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette. Each episode is about 90-100 minutes of long form interview so perfect for a long run.

  7. Oh my, I just saw the award you gave me. Why thank you! For real though, great suggestions! Oddly enough, I can run to sporting events and competition shows but too much thinking involved for anything else – walking only!