Running on a treadmill is like Marmite – you either love it or hate it, and the activity polarises gym-goers everywhere. For those of us that consider the treadmill to be a necessary evil, it can be difficult to stay motivated during a run. Let’s admit it, it’s often downright boring.
If the thought of the treadmill bores you to tears, fear not! With these handy tips, you can transform the experience to be far less boring. Who knows, you may start to even enjoy your time on the treadmill – but we’re not making any promises! Here is how to not get bored on a treadmill.
Have a Clear Plan Before You Run
When you step on a treadmill, there’s a high chance that your only plan is to “start running.” However, it can be beneficial to think about the goals you want to achieve long term, and how you can work towards them during your run.
Not only will a running plan help to stave off boredom, but it also ensures that every minute spent on the treadmill is productive.
Consider the following questions before getting on the treadmill:
- What is my current fitness level?
- What is my ultimate goal? (Weight loss, improve cardiovascular health, etc)
- Do I already have good running technique?
A personal trainer will come up with a good running plan, but you can also find many online. For example, the outlines found here are packed with variety and excitement, which will surely help you to push through the more boring parts of your run.
Vary the Pace and Incline
They say that variety is the spice of life and you should bring this attitude to the treadmill too. Make sure you change the pace (speed) and incline (steepness) at least once during your run. This will help recreate the changing terrain you experience when running through nature – which is often a lot more exciting.
Focus on Your Breathing
If you’ve ever had an injury or felt anxiety around others, you were probably told to concentrate on taking deep breaths. This is because, by focusing on the speed and pattern of your breathing, we tend to become distracted from unpleasant sensations elsewhere in the body.
It stands to reason that focusing on the breath can be a good distraction technique to avoid boredom on the treadmill. Here is an example of a breathing pattern you could follow while running:
- Inhale for four paces
- Hold for five paces
- Exhale for seven paces
You could obviously tweak this for your own preferences; the main idea is that you are focussing on something other than how bored you are. Additionally, good breathing technique enables you to keep running for longer.
Try Some Mental Mantras
Like our last tip, mental mantras are meant to match your running pace and aim to distract you from your boredom, while also keeping you motivated.
Cheri Paige Fogleman (personal trainer and Boston Marathon competitor) recommends mantras that have three syllables; these leave you one pace in between to “rest”, which lets you continue repeating them for longer.
Here are some great examples of running mantras you can use:
- “Easy feet”
- “Long and strong”
- “Keep it up”
- “Take it slow”
Have An Interesting View
If you’re lucky enough to go to a gym with scenic outside views, take advantage of this! Most runners will know the pain of running on a treadmill with nothing to look at but a plain white wall. With little to no mental stimulation, you’re bound to get bored!
Where possible, choose a treadmill that faces an outside window or has another interesting view (such as a class happening in another room). You’ll be surprised at what you might see, be it a first date at the coffee shop across the street, two old friends bumping into each other, or a dog chasing a bird through the trees.
Changing the view you have while running can significantly reduce your boredom while on the treadmill.
Listen to Music
Have you ever watched the Rocky training montage and suddenly felt capable of conquering the world? Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger has become the ultimate anthem for motivation in pop culture and can give even the most unmotivated a burst of energy.
It’s no secret that listening to the right music can hugely impact your mood. If you’re prone to treadmill-induced boredom, it’s probably time to put in some earbuds and crank your favourite tunes.
There are numerous proven benefits to listening to music while exercising, including:
- Creating a positive distraction
- Elevating the mood
- Reducing fatigue
- Improving concentration
- Helping you keep your pace
Need some help picking the right music to stave off your boredom? Here’s a great list of fifty motivational workout songs.
Try a Podcast Or TV Show
As motivating as music can be, it won’t be for everyone. Those of us who have low attention spans often need a “story” to follow in order to stay concentrated. If this sounds like you, you may benefit from listening to a podcast on the treadmill.
Podcasts span across a wide range of styles and genres, but the main point is that they give you something to concentrate on – other than how much you wish you weren’t running right now!
Apps like Spotify and Apple Music boast hundreds of different podcasts. Some discuss true crime and/or history, some give advice, and others tell personal stories. If this is your first time diving into the world of podcasts, take some time to browse what’s out there. By choosing the right one for you, you’ll never be bored while running.
Some runners will need something visual to stave off their boredom and, in this case, you could try watching your favourite TV show or some YouTube videos. Thankfully, most modern gyms include complimentary wifi for you to fire up your video of choice. If you watch something you’re really interested in, your time on the treadmill will be over before you know it!
Keep Your Eyes Off the Monitor
There’s nothing more disheartening than running for what feels like half an hour, only to check the treadmill’s monitor and see that only five minutes have passed. Many runners, newbies and experts alike, have the bad habit of checking the screen at regular intervals to see how much time they have left.
If you want to stay motivated and avoid boredom on the treadmill, stop looking at the monitor. Otherwise, every minute will feel like a lifetime if you’re always checking how long is left. Ignorance is bliss, after all!
To those prone to staring at the treadmill monitor, try covering it with your towel and focus instead on your video or out the window. You’re likely to find that time passes by much more quickly.
Consider Shortening Your Running Sessions
If you’ve exhausted your options and you still find yourself getting bored on the treadmill, the problem might be that you’re using it for too long! It is better to do short bursts with high intensity than to walk at a leisurely pace for an hour.
Of course, not everyone will have the fitness level to run at high speeds. You should listen to your body and gradually work your way up to a higher intensity workout, especially if you’re just starting in the world of running.
The harsh truth is that, while some people have a natural enjoyment of running, the majority of us find it boring. However, there are things you can do to combat this boredom and make the treadmill tolerable at worst, and enjoyable at best. Good luck! 😉