3 Surprising Ways to Enjoy Treadmill Running

Treadmill training is increasingly common for runners who continue to train through the winter. With frigid temperatures and icy conditions, many runners must resort to the controlled climate of the gym to run on a treadmill.

But running in place for miles is so boring! Treadmills are the bane of many runners during winter training; it's no surprise they're often called "dreadmills."

If you have an important race coming up, they might be your only option to get in crucial workouts and mileage. If you absolutely must use the treadmill during inclement weather, there are certain ways to alleviate the boredom, and ensure you don't feel like a human hamster.

Instead of just watching TV like most runners do, here are three more unique ways to enjoy your treadmill workouts.

More: 4 Workouts to Spice Up Treadmill Training

Reuse Your Power-Hour CD

College kids have been doing "power hours" for years. The simplest version: Make a 60-song CD of 1-minute excerpts of songs. When the song changes every minute, you take a shot of beer.

We're going to play a more wholesome, healthy version of power hour. Reuse your old CD (or make a new playlist on your MP3 player), and run a power-hour workout on the treadmill.

Instead of drinking beer when each song changes, run a fartlek that alternates between an easy recovery pace and a more challenging effort like 10K or half-marathon pace.

More: 6 Fartlek Workouts for 3 Training Phases

As long as you warm-up and cool down for at least 10 minutes each, this leaves you with 20 minutes of faster running. If you have a heart-rate monitor, this workout should average about a tempo effort (85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate). Plus, you get to listen to 60 of your favorite songs.

The Boil the Frog Workout

There's an old folk warning that if you put a frog in boiling water, he'll jump right out. But if you put him in cool water and slowly raise the temperature, he won't even realize it. It's been proven false (and creepy), but we're going to do a similar experiment on the treadmill.

Start running at your normal comfortable pace. Every five minutes, increase the pace by about 10 seconds per mile (press the "increase speed" button twice), and increase the incline by .5 percent.

Do this every five minutes for 30 minutes, and you'll soon be running a minute-per-mile faster at an inline of 3 percent. Once you reach this level, reverse the order and slowly go back down to your starting speed and incline.

More: 3 Progression Runs to Reach Race-Day Success

Unlike the frog, you'll certainly notice the ever-increasing difficulty of this workout as you reach the half-hour mark. Perfect for those training for a marathon?even those trying for a Boston-qualifying marathon?this workout can be used in place of a more traditional marathon or tempo-pace run that would normally be done outside.

More: What Are Threshold and Tempo Runs?

Play iPod Roulette

This challenging workout is perfect for runners who don't have a lot of time, but want to do an intense session on the treadmill. First, you'll need to create a playlist on your MP3 player of 10 to 12 songs that are about 2 to 3 minutes each. The key is to make half of the songs high intensity and half of them calm and mellow.

After a short warm-up, start your playlist on random shuffle. When an intense song plays, increase your pace to about 10K effort. But when a mellow song plays, slow down to a recovery jog. If you're feeling bold, you can run at a higher incline.

More: Ways to Train on Various Inclines 

Be cautious with your pace because it's possible you may be running hard for two or more songs in a row?that makes it even more important to choose short songs and a more cautious pace.

While nothing can replace the feeling of the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, these fun treadmill workouts will keep you guessing and working hard when the weather isn't cooperating. Even though you're running inside like a hamster, that doesn't mean you can't spice up your training.

More: 3 Things to Know About Treadmill Training

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