Running on the Treadmill Without Losing Your Mind

I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. I tend to go through phases, and luckily for me I am currently in a “love” phase. Maybe it’s because it’s warmer outside, or maybe because I am finally seeing some speed and progress because of my indoor adventures, but whatever the reason, it has been working for me lately.

running on the treadmill

I really don’t run well in hot humid weather (but really, who does?), and Bobby doesn’t like me running out on the highway alone, so I have been logging a lot more gym miles this year. Here you will find my best tips for treadmill running without losing your mind. Trust me, it can be done without you wanting to throw a kettlebell through the gym window, and the results will be well worth it.

1.) Watch TV: I know this is not possible in all cases, but if you have a treadmill at home and can position it in front of a TV, or watch one at the gym, it can really help pass the time. I am lucky in that each treadmill at my gym has their own TV, so I can plug my headphones in and watch whatever I want. I tend to long-run best when a good movie is on, so I try to schedule my time when I know something worth watching is going to be on. Also, streaming movies on Hulu or Netflix can help pass the time, and you may not WANT to stop running! No TV? Just use your phone or tablet and binge watch something really exciting!

2.) Intervals: The great thing about a treadmill is controlled speed. I sometimes spend my time playing games with intervals. For example, warm up, run five minutes at a 6.0, the 2 minutes at a 7.0, etc. etc. It makes the time go by a lot faster constantly changing up your speed and keeping your mind off of the drudgery. Set mini goals for yourself or try to run the next interval faster than the last.

3.) Race the person next to you: Come on, you know you do it too. If there is someone next to me going just a little faster or farther than me, I pretend like we are racing. I tell no lies. My gym stays pretty busy so there is always someone new to “race!” It pushes me and makes things interesting, even though they have no idea we are competing!

4.) Distract yourself: This could mean a lot of things. I sometimes start thinking about all the things I have coming up that I need to do, things to get at the store, planning a vacation etc. I have heard of people planning meals for the week, coming up with business proposals, or drafting e-mails in their head while they run to pass the time. I also like to pray when I run. Multitasking for the win!

5.) Work on your form: When I get tired, I tend to lose my running form. My shoulders slump, my feet drag, my breathing is erratic, and I expend more energy than necessary. Treadmill running is a great time to focus hard and work on your form and tweak those minor issues that can make a big difference in time and injury prevention.

6.) Hills, hills, hills: This is especially good if you live in a flat area. Being able to raise and lower your incline on command is a great way to train for a hilly race or to work on your endurance and leg strength. It will make flat running seem like a piece of cake!

QOTD: What do you do to pass the time on the treadmill? What is the longest you have ever run on a treadmill, I have run 16 miles!

Related: 8 Tips for running in the rain

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  1. I think 20 on the treddy is my longest run. I did a 12 and 10 miler this weekend on the treddy – which I have become comfortable with! A couple of movies or TV series or a really rockin playlist is what gets me through.

  2. I’m starting to focus on my form now before I start my training again. Watching tv has helped me a lot to stay on the treadmill, especially watching infomercials for some reason lol

  3. It’s funny, but I find I can only do a long run on the treadmill at the gym (not on the treadmill at my house). I think it has to do with the “competition” aspect that you mentioned. When I’m on the treadmill in my basement I can hop off whenever I want, and although I have a TV there it just seems to be more boring without all the people watching haha. So after being stuck at the hospital all weekend (I’m a nurse) due to the blizzard that we had here in Canada, I can’t wait to hit the gym treadmill today!!

  4. The longest I’ve done is 10 as well. I get up early to get it done, and I’ll be at the one gym location that opens at 7 on the weekends, then park myself in front of Sportscenter. I may see it run through twice, but I find it’s a good distraction compared to anything else the gym has on TVs. Regular news is just depressing.

  5. Hill and speed intervals are key for falling in love with the treadmill! We canceled our gym membership last summer and I haven’t run on a treadmill since. I miss it! My longest treadmill run is 16mi and that was not fun though!

  6. Heather (Where's the Beach) says

    I used to love the treadmill once upon a time. Now I dread it – but I find that once I get on there and get going, it’s not always as bad as I thought. Of course, it helps if you can watch tv. My former gym wouldn’t let you turn the channels though so CNN or ESPN was all you got. Not very distracting. I definitely think intervals are the way to go too. So it can be a great place to get in some speed work.

  7. I haven’t run on a treadmill in a while but as long as I have music or TV I have no problems. As far as “racing” goes… For me its not about speed but more about staying longer than the people around me. It’s silly but I get an urge to outlast everyone next to me. lol

  8. This is great! I love all of these suggestions all in one place, I just shared it on my FB page!

  9. I personally can’t watch the TV while I run unless I’m directly in front of it, which rarely happens at the gym. It may be because I’m a fairly new runner, but I tend to run in the direction I’m facing, so I run a little crooked if the TV is at an angle. The thing that’s helped me the most is music. I don’t use music when I run outside, but I find it helps me a lot on the treadmill. That and intervals, for sure!

  10. My longest treadmill run was a little over 6 miles. I like to do hill work on the treadmill, as well as some speed intervals, to keep from getting too bored.

  11. Oh man..I sooo know what you mean. Treadmills are a necessary evil for sure! I love listening to Podcasts. If i get engrossed enough in one I find that the time just flies by.

    I also am not against having a buddy to run with, if you’re at the gym or somewhere were more than one is available.

  12. I always make a conscious effort on keeping my form!

  13. Great tips, Heather! I keep promising myself that I’ll start doing hills on the treadmill, as it is pancake flat here… but the weather is so mild, I haven’t done it yet.

  14. I wish I liked the treadmill more than I do, but I have to use it in the winter here since I am not comfortable running on ice and snow. Our gym has TVs on some machines, but I have the option of 3 news channels (ew), ESPN (eh) and the Disney channel. Not so helpful. Most I’ve done is 6 miles and it was torture, but I love interval training on them! I can’t wait for the time change so I can run outside again!

  15. Erica @ For the Sake of Cake says

    Love these tips! Running on the treadmill is definitely waaay harder than outdoors for me!

  16. I trained for my first marathon by doing some mid-week miles on the mill. It works if YOU HAVE to do it that way. But the road is much better for you and trains you more effectively. I like your tips for “survival.”

  17. Great tips!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂 I will use some of those to help ease my dislike of the treadmill soon! 🙂

  18. Amy @ Honey Badger Runs says

    I just ran 10 miles on the treadmill yesterday, that is my longest ever run on the treadmill. I watched a movie on our iPad that I brought to the gym with me. I normally watch t.v. shows or a movie to pass the time, or when I’m really lucky I can arrange a time with a friend, and we chat our way through our run!

  19. I have run 20 miles on a treadmill at once during marathon training. The treadmills at my gym only go up to 60 minutes, so after each 60 minute segment (~6.5 miles) I would have some water and start over again. It actually helped for me to break it down into smaller mileage chunks – for some reason it didn’t seem as grueling to do it that way.

  20. I run outside on the weekends, but weekday running is on the treadmill. Intervals definitely help me to beat the boredom and I have seen some improvement on speed which is a big plus! We don’t have a TV in the room with the treadmill, but I take our tablet- it fits perfectly on the treadmill and I can watch whatever I want on Hulu and Netflix!!

  21. intervals, movie, and recipe concoction ideas. Yes, those are my thoughts. Now if only i could write emails while i run. haha

  22. I love the treadmill for safety & weather problems, but Intervals have to be my absolute favorite. Tonight’s time in the pain cave had 3 intervals @ 1 mile each at a 9.0 speed. kicked my tail. It’s also the easiest way for me to watch a football game at the gym without my kids throwing things at me.

  23. I have been catching up on HBO and Showtime shows I have wanted to watch. Loving Weeds right now but I cannot wait for warmer temperatures!!

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    […]   I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. I tend to go through phases, and luckily for me I am currently in a “love” phase. Maybe it’s because it’s the month of love, or maybe because I am finally … Continue reading → …read more […]

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