I am one of those perverse people that doesn’t HATE the treadmill. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like it, but most days we get on OK. Given a choice, I would almost always choose to go outside for my run, but I think the treadmill can have a positive use and purpose in any training block, especially during the winter in New England.
Over the years I’ve logged thousands of miles on the treadmill and I’ve found 3 things help me most when I have a treadmill workout to complete.
#1. Push through the first 15
No matter what, those initial 15 minutes are going to be terrible. Your legs will be heavy, you will feel out of synch, things will hurt, things will annoy you, you will want to stop. Your body and mind will beg you. Don’t do it! Push through that initial miasma. It will get better.
#2. Distractions can help
Have a good show or movie to watch. Music alone just doesn’t do it for me. Inevitably, I start casting around looking at the walls, looking at the dust, looking at the chipping paint, anything to distract me from the blinking, rotating treadmill readout. I need a show and you probably will, too.
#3. Make it variable
It helps if the workouts are variable. Doing a 90 minute, steady pace, long run on the treadmill is a recipe for quitting after 45 minutes. But, if your workout calls for constantly changing the incline or speed, then you can make it a bit of a psychological game. Four minutes then increase the incline. Another four minutes, up the speed again. Can you hang on? Run a mind game on yourself.
Mastering your mind on the treadmill can be just as important as any fitness gains. In fact I find the treadmill the perfect place to work on my mental toughness. Pro Ironman athlete Hilary Biscay tells a story of her coach making her run a full marathon on a treadmill, in a closet to help her get tougher mentally. I’m not advocating going that far, but you get the idea.
These two workouts are ones that I keep in rotation for my treadmill days. One for hills and one for speed. The treadmill doesn’t have to be a torture device. Go in with a plan and a workout geared toward the treadmill and your time will go more quickly.