As far as many runners are concerned, running on a treadmill is the equivalent of watching paint dry. And we can't necessarily argue against this, let's face it—treadmills have a certain stigma for a reason.
But we will admit that the treadmill is the ultimate training tool for runners and a great cross-training tool for other sports. However, it's still not the most engaging. After all, it's called the dreadmill for a reason, not just for its ability to afflict pain but also its mind-numbing lack of engagement.
But what if we said running on a treadmill doesn't have to be so cringeworthy? What if we dared to say it might even be fun and something you'll look forward to rather than skip?
Like most runners, we're always looking for ways to make our next treadmill session both fun and productive, so here are our top nine tips on how to do so.
Did we miss something? How do you keep your treadmill sessions more engaging? Leave us your ideas in the comment section below!
Stop Looking at the Data
Have you ever driven a long distance and looked at your odometer too often? Just like in the car, watching your progress on the monitor can be a tad deflating and ultimately make it feel like you've been running for longer than you have. Cover up your monitor with your iPad, towel or favorite magazine and get to work (and check in only occasionally instead of every two seconds).
Bring a Friend
A little friendly competition is always a good thing, and this includes running on a treadmill. You'll be able to catch up, lean on each other for moral support when things get tough and you'll be working on a common goal together. Just don't forget the post-run Acai bowl for a little pick-me-up!
You've probably heard of Zwift from your cycling friends, but it's essentially a fitness app that allows you to virtually compete with other athletes around the world. It's now available for runners, and all it takes is a foot pod, treadmill and compatible computer, smartphone or tablet. The engaging visual imagery and structured workouts let you feel like you're running outside with friends from the "comfort" of your home or gym.
Next time you head to the gym, bring your iPad and embark on a new series on Netflix (or content from any other streamable platform). It's an easy way to stay both visually and auditorily engaged, and offers hours of episodes to help keep things engaging and fun. Try to not watch the show unless you're on the treadmill—this will give you more incentive to hop back on and even run for longer.
Focus on Breathing
Surprisingly, most runners rarely focus on proper breathing techniques while training and racing. A treadmill session is the perfect opportunity to focus on breathing efficiently in a controlled environment and over time will immediately translate to benefits when running outside. Better yet, proper breathing is also good for preventing and eliminating side stitches, too!
Eric Clapton and Jack Johnson are perfect for summer days relaxing by the pool, but they're not exactly the most "let's get to work" artists out there. To get pumped up during your next treadmill session, download an upbeat workout playlist (or curate your own) and pair with your favorite Bluetooth headphones. Spotify has several awesome pre-made playlists that will do the trick if you don't want to make your own.
Gone are the days when coaches prescribed daily boring hour-long sessions at a steady pace. While these workouts have their place in early-season base building, intervals are a great way to keep things interesting. Change your speed and resistance (yay, buttons!) to not only get a better workout in less time, but you won't be as bored, either.
If you've never listened to a podcast on the treadmill, you should. They're super engaging and are available on just about all subject matters, from true crime to fiction. Experiment with a few different channels and find one (or several) that peak your interest—the miles will fly by when you're deep into a show you enjoy.
Focus on Form
Whether you like it or not, running in place on a treadmill will expose any inconsistencies in your running form and stride. Use your treadmill sessions to really think about your body mechanics and do specific drills to help with your efficiency. These three workouts mix things up on the treadmill while addressing your inconsistencies.
READ THIS NEXT: Are You Making These Treadmill Mistakes?