Beat Treadmill Boredom: Effective Ways to Power Through Long Runs

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Running Workouts
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David Dack

Whether you’re just embarking on your journey towards 5K glory or you’re a seasoned marathoner, you’re no stranger to the benefits of a solid long run.

It helps boost your endurance, strengthens your lungs, improves your form, and transforms you into a lean, mean running machine.

But here’s the twist: Have you ever tried those lengthy runs on a treadmill? It’s a whole different ball game!

Remember those days when you stepped onto the treadmill, and the minutes seemed like hours? I’ve been there too, staring at the console, counting every second until I can hit the ‘stop’ button.

You’ve probably heard some runners lovingly (or not-so-lovingly) dub it the ‘dreadmill.’ Yes, it can occasionally feel like an endless conveyor belt leading… well, nowhere.

Worry no more.

In today’s post, I’ll share with you a treasure trove of tips to keep you motivated and make your long runs on the treadmill much more fun.

Sounds exciting?

Let’s get to it.

Setting the Right Environment

Just like a well-prepared stage enhances a performance, your surroundings can significantly impact the quality and enjoyment of your workout. It’s not just about the run itself; it’s about curating the entire experience.

First and foremost, prioritize good ventilation. Position your treadmill in a well-ventilated area. If you can place your treadmill near a window, even better!

A view can be a game-changer. Imagine gazing at nature, an urban landscape, or your own backyard – it can transport your mind and alleviate the monotony.

Next, make sure you have a water bottle within easy reach. Maintaining proper hydration during a long run is akin to keeping an engine cool during an extended race – absolutely essential. And don’t forget to have a towel nearby. Trust me, a few miles in, you’ll appreciate its presence.

Partner Up

Partnering up can transform your treadmill time into a social event. Picture this: you’re chatting, laughing, and swapping stories while those miles simply melt away beneath your feet. It sounds pretty fantastic, doesn’t it?

And here’s the science to back it up! Research indicates that working out with a friend not only enhances the enjoyment factor but can also elevate your performance. A study conducted by the University of Aberdeen revealed that having an exercise companion led people to engage in more physical activity. This is likely due to the emotional support and friendly competition that a partner provides.

If you can’t have a friend alongside you, try virtual run meetups or sync your run with a friend’s schedule and share your progress. It feels like they’re running right beside you!

Listen to Music

Have you ever noticed how a fantastic tune can make you forget you’re even working out? When you’re immersed in your favorite beats, singing along, and perhaps even busting a few moves (safely, of course!), time seems to slip away.

And guess what? Science fully supports this phenomenon!

Research indicates that listening to music during exercise can actually reduce your perceived level of exertion. That’s right; it can make your run feel less strenuous! In fact, one study discovered that music can enhance endurance by an impressive 10 to 15 percent. It’s like having a secret superpower hidden in your playlist!

But what if music isn’t quite your thing? Don’t worry because podcasts are here to the rescue!

They’re typically free, cover a wide range of topics, and are perfect for zoning out while you rack up those miles. It’s like having a group of friends conversing in your ear, sharing stories and insights, or even making you burst into laughter. Before you know it, you’ve effortlessly completed several miles without even realizing it.

Read A Book

This next tip might raise a few eyebrows, but bear with me. Have you ever considered reading a book while running on a treadmill? I know, it sounds like a multitasking feat fit for a circus act, but let me explain!

First and foremost, multitasking often gets a bad rap for a reason. Attempting to juggle too many tasks at once can lead to subpar results in all of them. And guess what? Science supports this notion! Studies have indicated that multitasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

However, here’s the twist: reading while running isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibilities. The key is to find that one book, preferably an engrossing work of fiction, that you simply can’t put down. You know, the kind of book that keeps you saying, “Just one more chapter,” until it’s suddenly 2 AM. Combine that with a sturdy, reliable treadmill, and you might discover yourself in a runner-reader utopia.

For the practical aspect, consider using a Kindle or any e-reader and increase the font size. Trust me, it makes a world of difference when you’re attempting to follow the plot while your legs are in constant motion.

Still think it’s a bit of a stretch? No worries! There’s a fantastic alternative: audiobooks. They’ve been a game-changer for many. With audiobooks, you can immerse yourself in a story, acquire new knowledge, or even get lost in a different world, all while your feet keep rhythmically pounding the treadmill.

Watch a Show—or A Movie

Another effective way to distract yourself during those lengthy treadmill sessions is to turn to the world of television.

Netflix has been my secret running companion for quite some time. There’s something enchanting about immersing yourself in a captivating show that makes you forget you’re even working out.

I’d recommend saving up a few episodes or even an entire season of a show you’ve been eager to watch and reserve them exclusively for your treadmill sessions. It’s like a mini reward system: no running, no show!

However, a word of caution: Choose your shows wisely. Avoid anything overly complex or intense. I once attempted to watch “Westworld” while running, and let me tell you, it was a wild experience. I was so engrossed in deciphering the plot that I nearly stumbled over my own feet! So, perhaps save the mind-bending shows for your relaxation time.

Light comedies or feel-good series are typically a safer bet. Last weekend, I breezed through the first two seasons of “Vice Principals” during a 2-hour treadmill session, and it was a blast. Time flew by, and I enjoyed my share of laughter while logging those miles.

Add Variation

Adding some variety to your treadmill runs is like spicing up a bland dish with a hint of paprika – it instantly becomes more exciting! Instead of monotonously plodding along at a steady pace while staring at the same spot on the wall, let’s inject some dynamism.

You may wonder, how? It’s simple: experiment with speed and incline. Imagine your treadmill as your personal mountain trail or racetrack. Every 15 minutes or so, make a few adjustments to either the gradient or speed for a couple of minutes. It’s as if you’re scaling a steep hill or engaging in a quick sprint. This not only adds excitement but also replicates the natural variations encountered during outdoor running.

For those with a competitive edge, why not bring your race experience indoors? Download the course profile of your upcoming race and simulate the hill climbs and pace changes on your reliable treadmill.

However, and this is important, don’t overdo it. Introduce these changes gradually. Just as you wouldn’t drown your dinner in hot sauce (unless you’re a fan of intense heat), avoid overwhelming your run with excessive alterations too quickly. This could lead to fatigue, discomfort, and even burnout. The goal is to strike a balance where each run feels both challenging and enjoyable.

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