How to Thrive on a Treadmill

Hamster wheel, dreadmill, belt to nowhere, whatever you call the treadmill, I’m writing this to help you change your indoor running from a time of survival to a time of thriving. It can be done.

I’m a serious runner but live in a place where winter lasts ½ the year. Not only is it cold, but it’s always dark outside during the time I can get my workouts in. Add in the ice covering the roads and this makes a trifecta of reasons to turn to the treadmill to keep my running going. Sure, I could run outside more, but I want to keep improving as a runner and find indoors is the only way to do that.

During my marathon buildups, it’s normal that I’m running 100+ km’s per week. That is a lot of time to be running inside! I’m sure everyone that is reading that has been on a treadmill and the time seems to be standing still. One minute of running can feel like ten. We stare at the distance we’ve run and it doesn’t seem to move. It’s easy to get fixated on those numbers and then flustered before we stop earlier then we really want to. I’ve been there and what follows are some tips to help you thrive when running inside.

Comfort — First suggestion is to get a good fan. Do not rely on the tiny fan inside the treadmills console. I’m talking industrial size that can produce hurricane forces. You’ve got to stay as cool as possible, for as long as possible and the fan is the best way to do it. Also make sure your water bottle is full of ice cold water. These two tips alone will make it much more comfortable and reduce the feeling of running through the doldrums.

Cover it up — Instead of having the treadmill console staring at you, cover up the numbers with tape or with a towel. It’s far easier to get into the zone if you’re not consumed with slowly turning over numbers right in front of you.

Count down — Many treadmills give the option to set a goal distance or time and then the numbers will count down instead of counting up. There is something about this that makes the decreasing numbers increase motivation.

Use your media wisely— If you are watching TV, use the commercials as times to increase the paces. When your show resumes slow it down again. Same can be used for sports, during times of play run more comfortable and during times between plays turn up the speed. If you’re listening to music, alternate one song faster running, one song slower running. This gives structure to your workouts which I’ll get to in more detail later.

Another one is to save certain media only for the treadmill. If it’s a favorite show, podcast, or band only allow yourself to watch or listen to it while on the treadmill.

Zwift — If you have footpod that can connect via Bluetooth (StrydPolarzwiftrun pod, or if you have a bluetooth enabled Treadmill) to Zwift Run. It’s amazing! Group runs, races, events all can keep you motivated. Even better you can import workouts and have visual cues to keep you going. And it’s free. In my opinion this has been on of the great developments for indoor runners in years.

Use the treadmill for what it can do — Most people never use the functions that the treadmill comes with. Hill running is a great way to give some structure, make it more interesting, change muscle use and just generally make you a better runner. Treadmills have a big advantage here that the outdoors can’t always offer. Use it! Another big advantage is once you set the speed, you have no option but to keep up (or end up making horrible youtube videos). If you’re like me and want to keep improving, this is an invaluable tool. Even works for the hard/easy principle.

Structure — There is nothing better to give your run purpose and help pass the time then adding structure. Structure will make you thrive, even make you prefer to run on a treadmill for certain run workouts. Here is a few examples. The first is typical runner who loathes their time on the treadmill.

Workout without structure– Run for 30 minutes. Runner starts the run at 6MPH and doesn’t change that until they are done. Boring!

Idea #1

5 Minutes Warmup at 6MPH

3 Minutes at 7MPH

2 Minutes at 5MPH

Repeat last Three Steps 5 Times

Idea #2

5 Minutes Warmup at 6MPH

3 Minutes at 6MPH at 2 Incline

3 Minutes at 6MPH at 3 Incline

2 Minutes at 6MPH at 4 Incline

Repeat last Three Steps 3 Times

1 Minute Warmdown at 5MPH

Idea #3

Workouts with structure — 30 Minutes

5 Minutes Warmup at 6MPH

20 Seconds at 8MPH

4:40 Minutes at 6MPH

Repeat Last Two Steps 5 Times

These 3 simple examples will make time fly by plus improve you as a runner. I hope some of these tips will help you.

Want to buy a treadmill? Check out this great link for reviews, how to buy and a very interesting history of treadmills.

Interested in talking running, especially indoors. Find me at

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