The Treadmill: A Love/Hate Story

We were newlyweds living in England when I first started running on a treadmill regularly. Other than my husband, I knew nobody in the country and simply didn’t feel safe running outside alone.

So the treadmill it was. 3 miles, then 4, 5 and on until I worked up to about 7 miles total. I enjoyed it, especially when the music was right.

It wasn’t until we repatriated to the US that I started running outside and ouch I hated it! So hard! And the hills…the wind! But slowly I adapted and grew to love it.

We set up a home gym, the focal point of which was a treadmill I fondly refer to as Alberto (most likely the closest I’ll ever come to Alberto Salazar). This time I found it so hard and boring to run on a treadmill. But I sucked it up and it got easier.

Alberto and I work out pre-dawn now that the daylight hours have grown short, and he’s my foul weather backup. Although this past winter was rough for outdoor running, I managed for the most part with lots of layers and help from my trail shoes. However as luck would have it, 8” of slushy freezing rain drove me to the treadmill for my longest Boston training run: 22 miles. Frankly I couldn’t imagine anything more boring. But skipping it was not an option. So I hunkered down and “got er done”.

My point is that most of us tend to whine, heaven knows I do my fair share, about how boring a treadmill can be. But, if you optimize the conditions it’s totally doable and even enjoyable.

  • Choose your distractions. Favorite music, television, podcasts, whatever helps you pass the time.
  • Optimize conditions. Make sure the room is not too hot, there’s ample air circulation, towel is handy, etc. so you’re as comfortable as possible.
  • Proper fueling/hydration. Like any outdoor run, all this should be within arm’s reach.
  • Change up the workout. Change your pace, change the incline. Try some of the programs. Keeping your routine fresh will keep you fresh as well.
  • If you’re still not settling into it, try some intervals. Run for a few minutes then hop off and do some plyometric exercises or light weights.
  • Last but maybe most important, get your head around your workout. Like anything else, mental buy-in is key. Break down the workout in your head. For example my 22-miler became a simulation of the Boston racecourse. Overcoming the potential boredom of a treadmill workout is a character-building exercise that will serve you well in training and racing alike.

This is a guest post by Marcia. Find out more about her at Running Off at the Mouth

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