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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Our Nominees for Best Television Series
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?)
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!
A teen drama that ran from 2007-2012. Fun and well-written, but superficial enough that you can zone out and still follow along.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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?