Running Through a Fulfilled Life

How to Break Up Treadmill Boredom


Tis the time of the year where the treadmill runs become more numerous.  With temperatures dropping, blustery days, freezing rain, and mounds of snow, it is no surprise that the average runner finds his or herself having to turn towards a hamster wheel to stay active.

I am no stranger to the treadmill.  With winter bringing shorter hours of daylight, I find that even if the weather is “ok”, I have to run on the treadmill because it is pitch black by the time I get home from work.  I am a big fan of safety and don’t like to venture outside when it is dark along vacant country roads where there is a half mile between houses.  Just not my cup of tea.

Treadmills can be really boring.  I’m just going to come out and say it.  The mechanics of your running change as the surface moves below you and you literally go nowhere.  The sights don’t change.  The people around you don’t change.  They may even stare.  These things happen.  I have come with a few “go-to” set up tricks to distract myself.  Usually it seems to help.

1)  Always find a way to cover up your time.  When you stare at the time, it goes by slow.  A towel usually does the trick.  It is also good to prevent your sweat drips from going everywhere like a wet dog.  Or maybe that only happens to me.
2)  Focus on form.  The treadmill is a GREAT place to correct things that you may not normally pay attention to while running outside.  Proper arm swing (check), appropriate trunk rotation (check), are you heel striking/midfoot striking/forefoot striking (check), are you landing on an extended or flexed knee (check), are you overpronating or are you landing with a neutral stance (check), are your hips dropping (check), are excessively rotating throughout your hips or trunk causing your heel to clip your other ankle (check).  Little things like form work can really help with injury prevention.

Is this good form? My left knee is too straight.  My arms need to be more tucked in.  I need a slight forward lean.  And also I look like I want to die.

Is this good form? My left knee is too straight. My arms need to be more tucked in. I need a slight forward lean. And also I look like I want to die.

3)  Listen to music.  I choose Pandora.  And usually the “Work Out Music” station or lately the playlist created around “She Is Love” by Parachute.  Sappy music while I run.  Ummm yes please!
4) Fun workout clothes.  The more ridiculous, the better.  Literally had someone tell me the other day, “that’s a really bright outfit you are wearing”.  She may have meant that as a bad thing, but I took it completely as a win for me.  When I feel fun, my runs are usually fun.

I am hot.

I am hot.

Besides using mental jujitsu mind tricks, I like to use a variety of workouts on the treadmill to break up the boredom.  That means a lot of fartlek’ing.  Not fart licking.  Easily confused.

Eli’s Favorite Treadmill Workouts:
1) Treadmill Progression Tempo:  1 Mile easy warm-up.  3-5 miles “tempo” effort.  Each mile I kick up the speed so that the split will be 10-15 seconds per mile faster.  Last mile I usually kick it up every 1/4 mile.  Cool down of 1/2 to 1 mile easy.
2) Fartlek Fun:  30 min total work-out.  5′ Easy/5′ Hard, 4′ Easy/4′ Hard, 3′ Easy/3′ Hard, 2′ Easy/2′ Hard, 1′ Easy/1′ Hard.  My hard speed tends to increase as the interval shortens.  Easy pace is kept at a conversational speed.
3) Speedwork Ladder: 1/2-1 Mile warm-up.  200m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  400m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  800m.  Walk 0.1 mile. 1200m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  1600m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  1200m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  800m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  400m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  200m.  Walk 0.1 mile.  Cool-down of 1/2-1 mile.  This workout always kills me.  Always.
4) Stupid Hills:  1 mile warm-up easy.  Kick speed up to typical 10K pace.  Run 3′ at 0%.  Run 1′ at 3% grade.  Run 1′ at 5% grade.  Repeat as necessary until you feel like vomiting is a possibility.  Cool down of 1 mile.
5) The I Wanna Do It all Workout:  10′ on the Elliptical. 10′ on the treadmill.  Leg Press, Toe Press, and Hamstring Curls.  5′ on the treadmill.  Squats.  5′ on the treadmill.  Walking Lunges, Resisted Sidestep Squats and Wall Sits.  5′ on the treadmill cool down.  Stretch and promptly lay on the ground and hurt.

This picture is circa 2005.  When laying on dirty floors was acceptable and encouraged.

Do you do a lot of treadmill running during the winter (yes that was a lot of do do)? How do you keep things interesting?


2 thoughts on “How to Break Up Treadmill Boredom

  1. I love that song She Is Love! Saw them live a few years ago!

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