Looking for ways to make running on the treadmill a bit more enjoyable? There’s a reason why the runner community created the hashtag #dreadmill on instagram. Running on the treadmill can be incredibly boring and somehow feels harder than running outside...anyone else or just me? Yep, I’m a personal trainer, but I’m not immune to the struggle of running indoors.
While I may not be the biggest fan of running on the treadmill, I can appreciate the major benefits of using a treadmill in any regular running routine. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits being, they take the regular distractions of other pedestrians, cars, stoplights, or construction out of the equation.
Overtime I’ve learned to appreciate my treadmill sessions for the opportunity they give me to really focus on my run - how I move, my form, my efficiency, how I feel. When on the treadmill, it becomes just me and my run.
Over the years I’ve discovered that with the right mindset and preparation, you can make your treadmill sessions more enjoyable. Beyond that, if you learn how to use your treadmill right, some of your most effective training sessions will be the ones you do on your treadmill. Follow along with my top 5 tips below for making your workouts on the treadmill more fun, safe and effective!
1. Enter with a Plan
Never get on your treadmill without some sort of plan. If you want to get a quality workout, you need to have some general idea of what you want to accomplish when you step up onto the deck.
If you don’t know where to start, don’t stress! It doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be as simple as thinking to yourself, ‘today, I’m going to do 6 rounds of 2-minute high-intensity runs.’ You may not know what speed or incline you’d like to do, and that’s okay. The first few weeks should be based on feel. Don’t use anyone else’s times or workouts - this is about you and your fitness, and we all start somewhere different.
As you keep working on it, tune into the metrics on your console to get an idea of where you’re at and how you might be able to push yourself in future sessions. Increasing the number of intervals, the pace, or the incline throughout your workout are good ways to keep challenging yourself to push harder, and to one-up yourself. It’s a fun way to stay engaged throughout your entire session, and make it a little more meaningful than just mindfully slogging along at the same distance and pace as always.
2. Entertainment Line Up
For me, I’ve found when running outdoors, I don’t need much of anything to keep me entertained. I have the beautiful scenery, and I actually like having my ears alert for cars or any potential dangers I might run into. But when inside, there usually isn’t much to see unless you’re in a boutique fitness class. And the lack of scenery can quickly make your workout boring.
Have your entertainment at the ready! Whether music, TV shows, workout videos or podcasts ( like the 9-5 Fitness podcast) it’s a good idea to have something ready for consuming when you hop up onto that tread deck. Take advantage of that device holder!
3. Take Advantage of Your Personal Aid Station
One of the biggest benefits of running on a treadmill is you can have your hydration and snacks within arms reach at all times. If you’re training for a longer race like a half marathon or marathon where you’ll definitely be needing to take advantage of those aid stations, this is a great opportunity to practice your refueling while you keep it moving on the treadmill.
Stock your console with a water bottle and snacks for your longer sessions on the treadmill. Everyone is different, so your ideal fueling times will likely differ from others. I have found my sweet spot is typically every 5 miles, this is when I start to feel lackluster and in need of a pick me up. Find your sweet spot so you know exactly what to pack, or exactly how much you’ll need to grab from the aid station on race day to keep it grab and go.
4. Quality Workouts
Treadmills take out all of the distractions the road can bring, and provide opportunity to focus on your run. Save treadmill sessions for those quality workouts where your performance matters. If you’re doing a time-trial, time-based workout, or speed intervals - this is where the treadmill shines!
Hop on the treadmill and enjoy an uninterrupted workout, with no need to worry about stopping at stop lights, or slowing down for others which may affect a certain time you’re trying to hit. Focus on your pace, stride, breathing, reaction times, form. You can learn so much from silencing the noise of the road, and just watching and feeling how you move as you run. And without distraction, you can pour that extra energy into nailing those times and workouts time and time again.
5. Work on Your Running Form
Finally, running on the treadmill is a great opportunity to work on your running form. First things first, if you’ve ever run on a treadmill I’m sure you’ve noticed it feels different than running on the road. It’s so important when running on a treadmill to position yourself correctly to set yourself up for success, and to maintain the best running form.
Many runners have the bad habit of running close to the console. Whether it’s out of fear of falling off the treadmill or just a comfort thing - it’s not great for your form. When you run close to the console we actually see the overall quality of your form plummet. You don’t have the space to complete your full stride as you regularly would, and we often see upper body posture take this hunched T-rex kind of position to keep the upper body and arms out of the way of the console.
The best way to run on a treadmill is going to be in the middle of the tread deck. I know it’s scary at first, but I promise you have plenty of space to run without falling off, and it’s going to change your life. Here you have all the space you need to complete your natural full strides, and you’ll feel less bounce as this is where the treadmill was designed to take the load of each step.
If you have a mirror and can watch yourself run, this is a great opportunity to just watch yourself. Where are you positioning yourself on the tread deck? Is your upper body nice and upright, is your core engaged, are your hips driving you forward, are your knees and feet tracking in a straight line as you step, are you using your arms to propel each step forward? Now, there’s a lot to think of when it comes to good running form, and I’ll save that for another article. But take what you know, and just watch yourself! See what you can improve.
So, those are my top 5 tips! I have highly enjoyed my treadmill sessions since I’ve picked up some of these into my regular routine. I’ve found treadmill workouts to be highly valuable and a great addition to my routine, that I could not as easily accomplish on the road! I hope you take these tips to heart and use them to level up your next session with your treadmill.