You know the feeling. You’re staring at the display screen on the treadmill thinking, “Okay, I have four more miles to go, and I’m running at an 8:34 pace … ” You start doing the mental math to determine when you’ll be done. It’s not like you have anything else to occupy your mind as you run in place, run to nowhere, and run in the most unenjoyable way possible. Running to be done running is miserable.

I used to be the same way. Then, I discovered how to love the treadmill. Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer to run outside. However, 3 feet of snow was recently dumped on Maryland, and my sidewalks and paths are looking like they’ll be lost until at least late March. I’ve had no choice but to move my runs inside, and I’ve decided that it’s great practice for when I move to Colorado in a year. No way will I be training outside in the early morning for a spring race there. I can’t take more than a few miles in that type of bitter cold. Call me weak, but I call myself safety conscious.

Over the past week, I decided that it was time to embrace the machine — make it a friend rather than a foe. If you’re struggling, try these tips.

Entertain your mind

gym man

I always pick a treadmill that faces the largest expanse of the gym. I entertain my mind by watching my fellow gym-goers. Trust me, observing people is extremely entertaining. People do the weirdest things and use the machines in all the wrong ways. You’ll definitely get a few chuckles of out your observations, and it’s much better than trying to follow along with the lagging captions of one of the five channels that your treadmill screen broadcasts.

Mix it up

treadmill-sprint-workout

To start, you should always set your treadmill on an incline of one to mimic the basic wind resistance of running outdoors. However, to truly mimic outdoor running, I move the incline between one and four every quarter to half mile. That way, I’m watching for a certain mark in order to change up the incline rather than to see how much farther I have to run. I’m watching my distance for the next push or the next break, not for the ultimate stop time. Another option is to do speed work. I’ve always done my tempo runs and 400-meter repeats on a treadmill because I can control the speed with ease. Every few miles, I’m changing my speed and differing the run. The time goes by quickly, and I make use of the best feature of the treadmill: control.

Use your time

thinkinggears

I work through my day as I run. Now, I’ve always done this; however, it’s easier to do when you’re not also thinking about jumping over that branch, moving over for that cyclist, and making sure cars aren’t tailing you as you run on the road’s shoulder. You’re in a contained environment; you’re safe; you can let your mind go where it pleases. Plan out your meals for the week. Think about what you’re going to say in the meeting on Monday. Write the intro for your midterm paper. In your busy world, you have so little time to sit down and think, so why not run and think?!

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