If you’re like me, you prefer to run outside in the elements, feel the fresh air on your face, watch the beautiful sunrise as you crest your favorite hill, and hear the sounds of nature all around you. Unfortunately, with the below zero temperatures we have been experiencing this winter, the treadmill and I have been forming a relationship. I’m guessing many of you can relate. As I train for my upcoming marathon, it’s important that I stay disciplined and get my workouts in, but when I wake up at 5:30 AM and there is ice and snow covering the roads and the wind chill will freeze your face off, I opt to stay inside and give my “dreadmill” some love. You know, that big piece of machinery that we love to hate? During a run on said machine recently, I started thinking about the positives of staying indoors and how I pass the time on these runs to nowhere. So here are my eight tips for making it through that dreaded treadmill run.
1) “Go inside.”
Of course, you’ll literally be inside for this workout. Figuratively speaking though, I have noticed that if “go inside” my own mind, before I know it a mile or two miles or three miles have passed by. Instead of focusing on the fact that I am running to nowhere, I let my mind wander and imagine a great trail I’ve run or an oceanside route or really anywhere outside. I think about my upcoming day, things I’d like to accomplish, plans I have for the weekend, my goals, people I know that would give their all to run, but can’t.
2) Trick yourself.
I remember at some point reading an article about tips to trick yourself during a marathon. One tip was that as you interact with other runners, if anyone asks how you are feeling, always say that you are feeling fantastic. That positive energy you’re exuding might just help that other runner keep going, but more importantly you’re sending yourself a message that it’s all good. It’s a mental trick. You can’t help but smile when you say, “I feel fantastic!” I know, I know…this sounds ridiculous! Give it a try though on your next treadmill run. When all you want to do is hit STOP on that treadmill, or you’re just about at your limit in terms of speed or mileage, say to yourself, “I feel fantastic” and believe it. I dare you.
3) One mile at a time.
This winter I’ve had to do some long runs indoors. Prior to this winter, my longest run on the treadmill was eight miles. I set myself a new record this winter though at 12. 12 “dreadmill” miles! How could I?!? I got through that run by literally focusing on one mile at a time. With every new mile, I reset my focus as though I was starting from zero again and I found that not only did I feel better, I actually ran faster with every mile that passed. I find myself using the “one mile at a time” mantra often now on my longer runs and before I know it, I’m finished and feeling great. Another spin on this for longer distances would be to break your run into 5k segments allowing yourself to mentally reset after each 5k. Mentally, smaller goals seem much more attainable.
4) Crank up the tunes!
When I run outside, I don’t have music. It’s just me and whatever noise surrounds me. On the treadmill though, you better believe I am cranking up the tunes as loud as I can to keep myself pumped up. (Britney Spears Pandora radio anyone??? O.K.! O.K.! Don’t judge!) This is amenity number one that I am thankful for while running indoors.
5) Bathroom anyone?
This would be the second amenity that I am very thankful for while running indoors. While any runner knows that sometimes nature calls at inopportune moments on those outdoor runs, I think we can all agree that being able to use an actual bathroom if need be is a really nice perk. Too much water on your run? Too much beer the night before? Pregnant runner? Runner’s trots? Need I say more?
6) Turn on the tube.
Watching T.V. while running on a treadmill is something I am just not talented enough to do. I’m running and the show on T.V. is bouncing up and down as I watch. I simply can’t focus. I am always looking up while running. It’s a wonder I don’t trip and fall on my face really. Anyway, I digress. This is one thing I don’t personally do while running on the treadmill, but I know a ton of runners that do. They swear that it passes the time quickly and I can see why. If I could actually focus on re-runs of Sex & the City or Sons of Anarchy or put on a marathon of some trashy T.V. show (Real Housewives anyone?) that I can’t watch while my kids are running around all day, I’d be doing it.
7) Play a mental game.
Our treadmill is in the basement and when I start a workout, it’s usually about 60 degrees down there. So as I warm up, run further, and go faster, I find myself playing a little game to try and raise the temperature in the room. The thermostat is in plain view and by the end of a workout I’ve usually got the temperature up to 63, although my record is 64! I must be working hard if I can do that right? I know, it’s as ridiculous as telling yourself how fantastic you feel, but it keeps my mind occupied and the miles pass by. If there’s a game you can play to occupy your mind for a mile or two, why not have some fun with it?
8) Try a new workout.
I’ve gotten way more creative this winter than I ever have in the past when it comes to running on the treadmill. I used to get on the treadmill and run x number of miles, whatever I had to do that day or whatever I felt like doing that day. That in itself sounds pretty boring as I write this. This winter though, because I am training and have specific workouts in mind, I’ve learned to mix things up a bit. On a day I’m due to run hills, I will find or make-up a hill workout instead of just running at a set incline and calling it a hill day. On a day where I am running for speed, I will run intervals for speed and really push myself. I figure worst case, I fly off the treadmill right? Thankfully that hasn’t happened…yet. Here are a few examples.
So to the road runners who find themselves stuck inside because of icy conditions, to the Mom’s that have to sneak a run in when your babies are napping, and to all of you out there that just prefer the treadmill, what are some of your tips to make the time pass?