• How to Run on a Treadmill Without Dying of Boredom

    October 27, 2011

    Hi, friends!

    I woke up to the sound of pouring rain and huge wind gusts outside of my bedroom window. The last long run of my training (8 miles) was on my agenda for this morning, so, obviously, I wasn’t psyched about the weather. While I don’t love running in the rain, I don’t mind it either.

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    While I hoped and waited for the rain to stop (or at least lessen), I ate my usual pre-run breakfast of peanut butter and banana on a toasted Bagel Thin. I also drank a little bit of iced coffee with soy milk.

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    After breakfast, I took Murphy for his morning walk and scoped out the weather situation. The rain wasn’t slowing down one bit, so I took my long run inside to the treadmill (because I’m a wuss).

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    I arrived at the gym just as Live! with Regis and Kelly was about to start, so I hopped on a treadmill right in front of the TV and started my run. This morning’s episode was great. I definitely lucked out. It had Eva Longoria and Snooki as guests, and Regis even took off his shirt. I was quite entertained for the first 6.25 miles of my run. I spent the remaining 1.75 miles of my run watching The Nate Berkus Show. The time really fly by today. For real.

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    Watching TV is a great way to keep me from getting bored on the treadmill, but I don’t always have the luxury of watching my favorite shows. Here are some other things that I do to prevent myself from dying of boredom on the treadmill:

    • Have a plan. I almost always use some sort of workout to guide my run on the treadmill. It keeps me on track and motivated, and usually the time flies by. Some of my favorite treadmill workouts are 45-Minute Treadmill Workout, Not a Boring Treadmill Workout, 3-Mile Challenge, and Melissa’s 3′s and 5′s Treadmill Challenge.
    • Try an interval workout. Instead of running at a constant pace, I mix up my run with easy and hard intervals. Changing up speeds and inclines keeps my workout interesting, and (bonus) interval workouts increase my caloric burn. Here are some of my favorite interval workouts.
    • Think entertainment. Watch a movie, create a new playlist on your iPod, listen to an audiobook, comedy podcast, or talk radio. Anything that keeps you entertained will help make your time on the treadmill less boring.
    • Schedule your workout around your favorite TV show. Most shows are 30 or 60 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time for a workout. I also like to pick up my pace during commercials. I’m just waiting for my show to come back on, so I might as well push it!
    • Alternate the treadmill with another cardio machine. When I’m just not feeling the treadmill, I’ll break up my run by alternating my time with the elliptical or bike. For instance, if I want to run 5 miles, I’ll run 3 miles, use the elliptical for 15 minutes, and then finish on the treadmill with 2 miles. Spitting up the mileage makes it more manageable and helps my workout fly by.
    • Run with a friend. When Mal and I were training for our first marathon, we did a few runs side-by-side on the treadmill. It was motivating to have someone else to run with and we chatted quite a bit to help pass the time. It was also nice because we could run together at different paces.
    • Learn something new. I’m a huge fan of NPR (Car Talk is one of my favorites), so I often listen to the podcasts during my runs. I almost always learn something new, and it’s a great way to catch up with current events.
    • Let the music guide you. I often listen to the Lady Gaga station on Pandora when I run, so every time I hear one of her songs, I pick up the pace. Sometimes, I’ll even pick two artists if I really want a challenge (i.e. Lady Gaga + Katy Perry). I never know what’s going to play next, so it spices up the run!
    • Play number games. If you’re a weirdo like me, counting things while I’m on the treadmill helps me pass the time. Today, for instance, I counted how many guys with cut-off shirts walked into the gym. (Seven, if you’re wondering.) Here are some other number games I play on the treadmill.

    And here are a few ways that I avoid runner’s burnout all together. During marathon training, it always seems to happen to me.

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    Today’s lunch was a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich with mayo on toasted whole wheat bread. This sandwich was exactly what I wanted to eat today— warm melty cheese and tasted bread. Mmm! On the side, I had some roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

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    I washed lunch down with a couple of bites of chocolate chip cookie dough. Dee-lish!

    National Sandwich Day Challenge

    Tomorrow is the last day to vote in the National Sandwich Day Challenge! Please vote for my delicious dessert sandwich!

    Question of the Day

    What do you think of treadmills? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? How do you prevent yourself from getting bored on them?

    P.S. Here are some fun links for the pug lovers and for the runners.

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    { 108 comments… read them below or add one }

    Sarah@The Flying ONION October 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with treadmills. I love them for the first week after having run outdoors but I hate them after that. I get bored so easily and I just miss the fresh air so much!!

    These are some great tips though. I’m printing it out in case the situation ever arises where I need to put the treadmill to use. 😀


    Andrea (Run. Learn. Repeat.) October 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I loved this post! Lots of good tips, and I’m excited to try some of your workouts too. I used to hate treadmills until I moved to TX, then I was forced to like them if I didn’t want to die in the heat. I love watching TV while I run, and intervals are also a favorite to pass the time. I liked your counting things idea, and the alternating with another machine idea. Thanks for sharing!


    Cait's Plate October 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I’m generally more a fan of outdoor running unless it’s icy. I get too bored on treadmills (even with a TV) – I need some scenery!


    Khushboo October 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Wow great minds- I posted on the exact topic earlier! I love the treadmill!


    Mary @ Bites and Bliss October 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I only run on the treadmill if I absolutely have to or am coming back from an injury since it’s less of an impact. I always need to do interval work with it, though!! Miles seem SO long on that thing!


    Heather @ Bake, Run, Live October 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I did a lot of treadmill long runs when I was training for Goofy’s Challenge. The TV and iPod helped, but what really motivated me, was a color copy of the half-marathon and marathon routes. I laminated it and would put it on the treadmill. That way I could see (and picture in my mind) where I would be at on the course and what park I would be running through. Silly, but it helped.


    Tina October 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    That’s a great idea! :)


    Erin October 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I used to live by the treadmill and loved intervals, speed work and even changing gears by doing abs or arm dips on the treadmill for 20 second “breaks” THEN I started training for a triathlon in June and forced myself to run outside. Those first few runs were HARD but after a handful I fell in love with being outside. Now I am dreading getting back on the treadmill so I appreciate all of your tips and suggestions.

    I used to do 5 mins on the treadmill, then stair master, then elliptical with 5 mins of abs and arms as a circuit so I am sure I’ll pick that up again.

    Btw, I love your idea Heather!! :) I’ll be sure to bring pics of nice roads to my first treadmill run!


    Amelia October 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I’m still loving the treadmill. When I first started running it was on a treadmill and I was bored to just about tears. That was also because I was a new runner and thought running was just exercise, not something I’d come to enjoy. Now, I happily hop on the treadmill and just watch the little screen on the treadmill display as I go round and round a track. I also make sure I have my IPOD with good music or NPR shows (love Car Talk too!) and preferably a TV available (not tuned in to ESPN!). I like running outside too but working on speed or doing an interval workout is easily done on a treadmill.

    BTW – your Brussels sprouts look delish! I haven’t had any yet this season but they may just end up on my plate soon.


    Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life October 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I actually really LOVE running on the treadmill and prefer it to running outside. I know, I’m one of the weird ones. 😉


    Rebecca October 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Are you ever going to actually bake those cookies? 😉
    I’ve never done a lot of running on the treadmill b/c I’m a poor college student who can’t afford a gym membership, which is OK because I love running outside. These tips definitely apply to outdoor running too!


    Shaun @ snackasaurusrex October 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    The interval training has really helped me to loathe the treadmill less. The time just flies by…love that!


    Kristin @ STUFT Mama October 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Love your treadmill ideas. I have to run while watching a movie or my favorite show (Biggest Loser is the best). It’s the only way I get by. When I’m training for a race I sometiems watch the whole movie (last one was Footloose). :)
    I like the treadmill because you don’t need to prep as much to get on it. No sunscreen, water belt, etc.
    Your tips are always the best! :)


    Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel October 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Blehh, I am so not a fan of treadmills. Time goes by so slowly on them, and it takes all the fun out of running for me! Unfortunately I go to school in a pretty cold part of NY, so treadmills are a necessary evil.


    Beth October 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I used the treadmill a lot when training for my first marathon. I never knew what I would want until I was on the treadmill so I just packed a bag with an ipod and magazines. Now I would bring my ipad and watch movies. Most of the time I listened to audio books and loved it!


    Erica @ For the Sake of Cake October 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    I prefer running indoors to running outside!

    Hope you’re not getting hit with any of that pesky snow in the northeast!


    Angie October 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I used to love running on treadmills, but while training for a half marathon, I grew to prefer running outside. I don’t mind short treadmill runs…especially because I am able to read magazines while I run. Crazy, I know. I must not bounce much when I run.


    Erin @ MyLemonTwist October 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Weird thing is that the treadmill used to really ‘pump me up’. I had a goal, watched the miles increase, and felt very accomplished after I saw the data on the screen. But, after experiencing training for a marathon (in 2009), the treadmill just didn’t interest me anymore. I actually would much rather prefer running in the rain- with a friend of course. No way I would be able to get out there without a partner, cheerleader, or present in sight! I love how you have mapped out ways to train your brain to LOVE/DEAL WITH the treadmill. I can see these options as being very helpful!


    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers October 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    I love the treadmill. I wish I had one. I don’t have a membership to a gym, but I’m asking for one for Christmas, crossing my fingers!!


    Hilary October 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Good tricks…I love the counting game. 😉 And I’m a big fan of your 45 minute treadmill workout!


    BroccoliHut October 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I actually don’t mind treadmill workouts–I love watching the Today Show every morning while I run!


    ashley @peaceloveyumminess October 27, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    So i just started running again after having a bad knee injury for a while and I also changed jobs so now i work out early morning where before it was mid day.
    Do you reccommend eating something before I go? Its just so early and I tend to have some carbs and protien when I’m done running, if anything maybe some coffee on my way to the gym.


    Kamaile October 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks for the article on Julia Chaae-Brand. What a pioneer for women runners!


    Kamaile October 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm



    Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups October 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I like a good movie or TV show and a treadmill workout. Live with Regis and Kelly would be good for me. I’m so sad Regis is leaving!


    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I love it when a good tv show is on while I’m running! Three summers ago I got hooked on Frasier because it was always on in the mornings when I was at the gym. 😀


    Ivana@Practicing Perfect October 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Great tips! Like many others who commented, I too have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. Sometimes you just get a little bored. Typically I dread getting on….but once I’m there it’s not so bad. One thing I do to help the time go by is do mini countdowns….how many songs from my playlist to get through my workout? only 2 more minutes before I change the interval, etc. I also sometimes like to pretend compete with the people next to me =)


    Lauren October 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Great tips! I usually like my treadmill workouts, I find it easier to keep my pace up. It’s especially great for speedwork. I figure I might as well embrace it, our weather is so unpredictable lately.


    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig October 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I just can’t do treadmills. I can run outside for hours without even thinking about it, but after just five minutes on a treadmill I’m bored out of my mind!


    Katie @ Plates and Paste October 27, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Intervals definitely work for me. I try to watch tv while on the treadmill but can never stay focused in tn show.


    Charlie (therunnerbeans) October 28, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Thanks, this is really helpful. I love all of your training/workout posts and advice, taking it all on board whilst working towards my first marathon! Still finding it tough to speed up! I am sooo slow. Can’t wait to hear all about the NYC marathon, its definitely on my hit list- if I can crack London in April.


    Angela @ The Chicken Scoop October 28, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Oh the DREADmill! How I loathe thee. Haha, seriously, I hate them! I never feel right on it. I have done some long runs on there and I just realized when I started reading your blog that my long run is tomorrow and its supposed to be some crazy storm tomorrow! Ack! I am glad I hadn’t canceled my gym membership yet…

    As for trying not to get bored, I look around and people watch or try to read the subtitles on the TV. That really makes time go by fast actually. I just get bored during the commercials then. LoL. If I have to run tomorrow on the treadmill, I am going to bring my recorder with me. I missed class on Tuesday and had a friend record it for me. Perfect time to study! Class is about an hour and a half and so should my run be!


    Ali @ Ali Runs October 28, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I hate the treadmill during the summer and typically will avoid it at all costs. However, as soon as late fall/winter hits, I’m all about it. I am such a wuss when it comes to running in snow or cold rain.


    Katie @ cooklaughmove October 28, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I do numbers games when I run outside! I’ll count all cars of a certain color or I won’t look at my watch for at least 15 cars or something. It makes the time go faster and keeps me from being obsessively watching my watch!


    Christa October 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Thanks for the tips! I was on the treadmill yesterday and what kept me going was trying to keep a certain pace for the rest of a song, or a countdown for an interval, plus some good music!


    Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl October 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Now if I could just get myself to run on the treadmill and get over my fear…this might come in handy. LOL.
    Actually the treadmills in my gym face a wall mirror. :(
    So the options are read a mag, a kindle book… the wireless reception sucks at my gym..or I’d say watch a movie or HBO Go show… and stare at the person next to you. haha.

    I am almost there… jogging speed on the treadmill.


    Emily@runningmyliferace October 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I just can’t workout on treadmills. Well ok, I can walk on an incline but I haven’t been able to run on them. It seems that within the first mile I start getting shin splints. If I do get on the treadmill, I walk on an incline and usually talk to someone on the phone. Running in the rain can be fun, but living in south Texas means I don’t experience that too much! Glad you finished your 8-miler today, that is on my list for tomorrow’s running!


    Amy October 29, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I’ll be honest…I kind of hate the treadmill! I have to force myself to knock out three miles on it. So, I put this post straight in my favorites…it may help me survive the winter! Thanks! :)


    Nicole @ Giraffelegs October 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I love your treadmill workouts, I haven’t tried one that I did not like!!


    Sue October 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I just call it the treadmill


    Sue October 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

    opsssssssssss, i mean the DREADMILL !! lol


    Karen October 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Definitely a treadmill trekkie! It is my hour of Zen in a heavily scheduled day–I do it on my way home from work, unless I have an evening meeting. In that case I plan on being at the gym @5am. I listen to music I have rewarded myself with on my iPod and I make sure to resist replying to text or email messages on my iPhone while working out!


    Roberta October 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Yes boredom on the treadmill is so right. Thanks for the tips.


    Kathy October 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I liked how you plan ahead and use some type of workout guide. and will take a look at your suggested workouts. I would like to find something similar for a recumbent stationary bike which I use almost daily.


    Michelle October 31, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Music is definitly the key to a motivated work out for me. I find something with a good beat (Black Eye Peas works great!) and I try to keep pace with the beat. I might be slower than some, but I’m steadier than I used to be!


    Amanda November 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I prevent myself from getting bored by not running on them. :) When I do, I try to switch up the incline and the speed frequently. Last time on a treadmill was at a friend’s house when I was dog/house-sitting there 2 months ago, and it was so I could create hills for me to run on in an otherwise flat neighborhood. Before that, my last treadmill run was in March. I belong to a gym again, but mostly use it for spinning and boot camp. I will do anything to avoid the treadmill to the point where I did a 13 mile run this summer in the rain.


    nika November 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Great advice!! Thank you!


    nadia February 6, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I love running outside, but today for instance the streets are so icy i have no choice but run on a treadmill. I can barely run 2 miles on it!! that’s how much i hate it.


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