Be honest: How many times have you gone for a run because you thought you should (and not necessarily because you wanted to)? You’re not alone! Many people find it hard to motivate themselves to go running, let alone getting enough gumption to lope along on the treadmill.
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The monotony of a treadmill workout just makes running more torturous, and even those who love to run abhor being stuck inside on the “dreadmill.” But you shouldn’t skip your workout just because it’s boring or it’s raining outside. These nine tips will breathe new life into your treadmill workouts. And you never know — you might even start to look forward to them!
1. Find a Fun App
Need motivation? There’s an app for that! Download the audio coaching app Aaptiv and you’ll have access to tons of different running workouts guided by coaches who’ll get you to the finish line. You can choose the length of your workout and the focus — intervals, speed play, endurance. And you can even pick your favorite musical inspiration, from country to EDM.
Or turn your run into a game with the app Zombies, Run! Choose your mission for the day and follow the prompts to collect supplies to build your base. When zombies are after you, you’ll have to speed up!
2. Run Virtually
“Once again, technology has completely changed the treadmill running experience,” says exercise physiologist Tom Holland. “Apps like RunSocial connect to treadmills through bluetooth, allowing you to run live with people around the world on different courses at any time.”
You can also join scheduled group runs, run with friends and even compete in races. Many newer treadmills have apps like RunSocial already installed. You can also use an app like BitGym that lets you run virtually on courses from around the world from your tablet or smartphone.
3. Catch Up With Friends
While it’s not the best way to have a heart-to-heart, in the age of multitasking it’s perfectly acceptable to chat on your phone while you’re working out (as long as you are still respectful of your neighbors). Use your bluetooth headphones to discuss the latest news with dad during a long, steady-pace run. You can even set up your phone or tablet and video-chat with mom or your BFF across the country. Better yet, make a run date with your BFF so you can both get your dreaded treadmill workouts in together.
4. Netflix and Run
Between work, family and social obligations, you might find it hard to get in a workout, much less watch an hour of Netflix. But if you’re suffering from FOMO because you aren’t caught up on “Game of Thrones” or “Stranger Things,” you can use your treadmill time to your advantage.
Get a tablet and a reliable internet connection, put on your headphones and be transported to the fictional land of Westeros or a parallel universe dubbed the Upside Down — and save your social life. Plus, a 2013 study from Management Science found that “temptation bundling” — only watching “GoT” on the treadmill, for example — increases your motivation to go to the gym. It’s a win-win!
Read more: 8 “Bad” Habits Science Says Are Actually OK
5. Build a Motivational Video Playlist
Sometimes it’s just getting going that’s the hardest part. Before you even get to the gym, pump yourself up with some motivating music, whether it’s the theme from “Rocky” or some bass-heavy techno.
Once you’re on the treadmill, personal trainer and motivational guru Jesse Brisendine recommends making a video playlist of your favorite motivational scenes from movies, TV and YouTube and watching those while you’re working out. “We all have scenes from films that emotionally affect us and compel us to act,” says Brisendine. “When it comes to running on a treadmill, being emotionally affected and compelled to act is a good thing.”
6. Get Creative
This is for the extroverts out there. You’ve likely seen some of the viral videos where people are singing, dancing and having a good time on the treadmill. Well, that could be you! “It’s 2018, and the days of running in short shorts with a frown on your face are long gone,” says personal trainer Jesse Brisendine.
“What is uniquely you that you can bring to the treadmill?” Can you sing opera or freestyle rap? Do it while you’re running and you might become an internet sensation. Just be sure not to get too crazy (like the members of OK Go in their iconic music video, for example). Broken bones won’t do anything for your mile time.
7. Give Your Brain a Workout
Oh, the monotony of a treadmill workout! Plodding along, mile after mile, with only the sounds of your thoughts knocking around in your head for company. Snap out of it! Getting your brain busy will take your mind off how many more minutes, seconds and milliseconds you have left to go.
Listen to an interesting podcast, such as Limetown, You Must Remember This or 99% Invisible (or our very own Stronger podcast). Listen to free audio documentaries online, or try an audio version of that book on Einstein you’ve been wanting to read (but probably won’t). Or brush up on your Italian before your next trip to Milan.
Read more: The Best Free Podcasts for Healthy Living
8. Get Lost in the Music
If you have a passion for music, you’ll never be bored as long as you have the means to play the tunes you love. Instead of thinking of your treadmill run as a workout, think of it as a chance to listen to your favorite albums or new releases in their entirety. Considering the average length of an album is 45 to 60 minutes, you’ll be able to get in four to eight miles, depending on your pace. Take the focus off your pumping legs and beating heart and pay closer attention to the music flooding your ears. It’s hard to get lost running on a treadmill, unless you’re getting lost in the music.
9. Do Intervals or Pyramids
Treadmills are perfect for focusing on interval training, which helps build strength and speed and torches calories. After a warmup, increase your pace to a sprint for 30 seconds, then lower your pace to an easy jog for one minute. Repeat these intervals a total of seven times.
Or try a pyramid workout to really make the time fly by. Increase your speed to a challenging pace you can sustain for one minute. After that, recover at an easy pace for one minute. Next interval, go up to two minutes work and two minutes recovery. Increase to five minutes of each, and then work your way back down to one minute each.