Beating boredom on the treadmill

Last summer Barry got me a treadmill for my birthday. The first thing I did was lovingly dub my treadmill “Sven.” Then it was time to actually use the thing.

I usually hop on the treadmill when I need to run and it’s dark outside. I’ve also used it to get in the miles while keeping my shins happy, thanks to the extra cushioning. This past winter it also came in handy when we had numerous snow storms and a polar vortex descended upon us. Over the past 8 months I have logged countless shorter runs, and a handful of “long” runs with Sven. I used to refer to the treadmill as the “dreadmill,” but I’ve since learned a few tricks to make life bearable as I run in place.

1. Listen to music (or an audiobook/podcast). My treadmill has an auxiliary plug, and I love to plug in my iPod and blast some jams. For Barry’s benefit, I usually only do that when he’s not home. If he’s home, I stick to earphones. Creating a playlist with songs that you can rock out to will help the miles fly by. Sometimes you’ll even have to fight the urge to dance while you run.

2. Change the treadmill settings. Sometimes I play a game on the treadmill where I bump the speed up 0.1 mph every 0.1 miles, until I hit a certain goal. Then I bump it back down by 0.1 mph increments every 0.1 miles until I’m back where I started from. You can make changes to the incline and/or speed every few minutes or at various distance increments. It helps break up the run and gives you something else to focus on other than your overall goal for the run.

3. Use a towel to cover the screen. This is one of my favorite tricks when I’m doing a long run on the ‘mill. I sometimes have a tendency to stare at the distance and it just makes the run drag. Having a towel over the display lets me focus on my music or the movie/TV show that I’m watching.

4. Watch a favorite movie or TV show. I actually prefer to watch stuff I’ve seen before so that if I zone out and zone back in I’m not missing anything. I’ve started referring to the movies and TV I watch while on the treadmill as my “in-flight entertainment.”

5. Play a game. Make up a game where you do something every 10-15 minute. It can be to take a sip of water, take in some fuel, or make a change to the speed or incline. This helps break up the run, so that you’re only focusing on the next segment. It creates mini goals to get you to the end of your run.

What tricks do you use to keep yourself entertained on the treadmill?

12 thoughts on “Beating boredom on the treadmill”

  1. Ugh, luckily it looks like the weather here is good for a while andI won’t have to touch a treadmill for a while. I always use the towel. My problem is that I run on the TM at a gym and cannot necessarily pop in a movie. So I usually do speed work and make my legs go really fast so I think about pain more than when am I done?

    1. I hope you knocked on wood! Otherwise, you’re about to get a foot of snow tomorrow or something 🙂 Speedwork is a great way to pass the time!

  2. As much as I’s rather be running outside than on a treadmill, I’m always grateful to have access to one when I need it! The TV tip works best for me, but since the wellness center moved, we don’t have TV’s above the treadmills and I have to resort to music on my iPod.

  3. I used to watch the Travel Channel and run through exotic locations. Unfortunately they stopped doing these land tours during the times I am usually on it. Now I generally watch the news. Sometimes I catch some 80’s sitcom or some other mind numbing show.

  4. I prefer running outside, but if I feel the treadmill is just as bad as running outside alone in poor conditions so in that case I usually hit the treadmill. My favorite is watching something on TV AND listening to a podcast!

    1. It’s like choosing the lesser of two evils 🙂 I don’t know how you watch TV and listen to a podcast. I think I’d fall off of the treadmill from sensory overload!

  5. Those are great tips! I’ve run a lot of miles on the treadmill and found it really handy for bad weather when I had one. One of my favorite things to do was to watch a movie to pass the time.

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