All right, runners. Before we go any further with our treadmill tips, let’s tackle the biggest, thorniest issue facing us runners when it comes to the treadmill: we hate the god-forsaken thing.
Many of us will do anything to avoid having to run on it, including long runs on the snow and ice and bundling up in a bazillion layers to battle -20+ windchills (I’ve done it!) We might even run outside in 35 degrees with whipping wind and rain in shorts because we forgot long pants (my thigh skin still doesn’t forgive me for that one). We might walk right on past a nice safe warm treadmill as we head outside wearing blinking vests and headlamps and screw shoes and bank robber masks, ready to brave all kinds of crazy elements. And that’s our prerogative, of course. Being tough is a good thing! But sometimes running on the treadmill really is a very useful training tool. If we learn how to actually enjoy running on the treadmill, having that other option will help us take our winter training up a notch.
Today’s treadmill tip is actually 7 tips for learning to love the treadmill.
1. Do not expect a treadmill run to be the same as an outside run. Treadmill runs are treadmill runs. Outside runs are outside runs. They feel different. They are different activities. There are good things about treadmill running and bad things about it that outside running does not share and vice versa. Are you going to be able to be distracted by your surroundings on a treadmill run? Probably not. However, surroundings aren’t a negative on the treadmill either. You don’t have to worry about your safety on the treadmill, either from other people, dogs or cars. What’s a really great thing about the treadmill is that you always know what you’re going to get. To learn to love the treadmill, you need to accept it for what it is and not expect it to be what it isn’t (a run outside).
2. Recognize the treadmill’s assets and use them! Not having to worry about the weather, terrain or your surroundings is especially great for getting in tempo runs and other workouts. The treadmill is great for these. YES, it might feel harder, especially at first, but each time you do a workout it gets easier and easier to handle, both mentally and physically. I can’t tell you how many times I thought a workout was going to be so over-the-top tedious on the mill, only for it to fly by once I got going. The treadmill really is mind over matter. If you can handle the workout, you can get it done on the treadmill. Try it!
3. Save good music, movies and t.v. shows for your treadmill runs. I do not run with music outside. I can’t stand it! But when I run on the treadmill, I love running to music. A good mix totally pumps me up and gets me through even the hardest runs. The other thing I do, especially in the winter, is I get a show, preferably a serial with a lot of suspense that I have never seen before on DVD from the library. One winter, I got in really great training as I got lost into Lost. I made it through last winter with a couple of seasons of The Wire. I’ve done seasons of Dexter, The Sopranos and Mad Men (although I love the show, it’s not a great treadmill show for me – too slow!) Knowing I can find out what happens next as soon as I hop on the treadmill is very very motivating. Try it! The key is to only listen to the tunes or watch the shows on the treadmill!
4. Quit calling it the dreadmill. Remember when I said it’s mind over matter? Here’s one really easy way to get your mind over the matter of dreading the treadmill. Call it anything but the dreadmill. When you call it that you are setting your relationship with the treadmill up for failure. Call it “the love machine.” Call it “that thing that is going to make me super fit this winter.” Call it “Ryan Gosling.” Call it whatever you need to call it to fall in love with it.
5. Start slow and don’t go too fast. Unless you are engaged in a mad love affair with your treadmill, start on the very slow side. I always feel like I’m exerting ridiculous effort to go as slow as I do when I start. I might average 8:00 pace, but rest assured I started slower than 9:00 pace and that felt kinda hard! From my experience 8 miles in 68 minutes goes faster than 8 miles in 59 minutes. When I’m just loping along, the time goes by fast. It’s weird. Workouts are really fun too, but when I’m working hard I notice the time drags much more than when I’m not.
Also, it’s really easy to run too fast for what you’re trying to accomplish, especially if you’re at a gym and some young stud gets on the mill next to you. Plus, seeing that pace can make you feel bad about how “slow” it is and make you feel that it “should” be faster. I am telling you now that it is o.k. to run slower than you “should” and that effort can be weird on the treadmill. Go with the pace that feels right even if it’s ungodly slow to you.
6. Play with the controls. Really play with them. They are one of the best things going for the treadmill. Go faster and slower and up and down. Mess around. Find ways to change the speed and incline to get in the workout you need to get in. I never leave the speed where I start off. I’m always messing with it and inventing mini-speed/incline combos even for my easy runs (I will share some of those in future posts!)
7. Run on the treadmill more. That’s right. Run on the treadmill more frequently and you will like it. I have such a hard time transitioning from 100% outdoor running to having to run on the treadmill. But when I run on the treadmill regularly, I really enjoy it. I think we dread the unknown. Get to know your treadmill more and you won’t dread it so much anymore.
So that’s it from me! I’m sure you treadmill aficionados out there have more tricks and tips for enjoying the treadmill. Please share!
For our other treadmill tip posts, go here.
This post was originally published on November 19, 2013.