When the Outdoor Runner Succumbs to the Treadmill

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Oh, yeah. You know this feeling. You’ve logged in hundreds of miles this Summer and Fall. You’ve watched your splits. You’ve tracked your elevation. You’ve compared your routes. You’ve moved about, shaken it up, changed direction and lived to run outdoors.

Then Winter hits. You’re optimistic at first. You run when it’s cool, cold, colder, and freezing. You’ve run in the rain, cold rain, sleet, snow, and ice. You’ve done it all, baby.

Now, everything stands in your way for your outdoor run. Now, it’s easier to hang up the YakTax and hit the gym. Now, it’s time for the treadmill.

It’s ok. We can do this together. Here’s 25 things for starters…

1. Create a New Playlist
Keep your anticipated treadmill workout in mind and pick as many new or inspiring songs for as long as you want to run.

2. Do the Math
Count how many people are exiting or entering the gym. Or, count how many treadmills are going, how many people are shooting hoops or how many pieces of machinery you see. Kill more time by adding or subtracting these observations.

3. Try Out New Gear
Maybe you have been longing for a new pair of ear buds or have a pair of Nike shorts you have wanted to break out. The treadmill can feel new with a change of workout duds.

4. Hydrate
Plan out a water sip every few minutes.

5. Watch the Clock
Cover your treadmill projections and loosely anticipate you run time according to the gym clock.

6. Try Some Printable Work Outs
Online running magazines and bloggers offer countless amounts of resources for changing up your treadmill and work out routine.

7. Race your neighbor
Imagine your treadmill neighbor is running the same race as you. Who’s going to finish first?

8. Intervals (source: Runner’s World)
Try a 10-minute warm up, 20 minutes of random intervals, and a 10-minute cooldown.

9. Speed Intervals (source: Runner’s World)
Try 3 x 3 minutes at about 10 seconds faster per mile than 5-K pace. Give yourself two minutes of easy jogging in between.

10. Sitcom Tempo Run (source: Runner’s World)
Start with a 10-minute warm up, and move up to your tempo pace. Jog during the commercials, and resume the faster pace when the show comes back on. Cool down for five minutes.

11. Take a Class Following Your Run
Make plans to further your workout after your run. Get to the gym with enough time to squeeze your daily mileage in before you need to go on to the next workout.

12. Bring a Buddy
Unplug and talk about your day with a treadmill running partner.

13. Watch the Tube
Pick a treadmill with a TV tuned to a channel you don’t usually watch.

14. Count Steps Per Breath
Immerse yourself in your run.

15. Change Up Your Running Style (source: Fit Sugar)
Try high knees, running sideways or walking lunges.

16. Take a Break
Feeling a little burnt out? Swap your usual treadmill routine with an outdoor run, class, or weights. Revisit your treadmill workouts feeling refreshed.

17. Bring Some Entertainment
Save a magazine you have been wanting to browse for the treadmill.

18. Find Some Inspiration
Bring a note or picture to inspire your run.

19. Cover the Display
Allow yourself to run by how you feel instead of what your treadmill reads.

20. Go for Negative Splits
Track each mile you are running and improve the following mile pace by 10 seconds.

21. Set Goals
Inspire your treadmill runs by always trying to achieve a goal for that day. Let each day bring you a new goal.

22. Incline (source: Runner’s World)
Do faster workouts with no incline as well as slower-paced workouts with an incline. The slower uphill workouts build strength, while the faster flat workouts help you develop stamina, endurance, and quick footwork.

23. Sign Up for a Race
Take the plunge and sign up for an outdoor race. Pick a training plan to accommodate your distance and countdown to race day.

24. Don’t Compare
Remind yourself that running is fun! Run on the treadmill and remind yourself you choose to be there for the betterment of you. Don’t worry about what others are doing.

25. Use a Running App
While I keep track of runs with RunKeeper, choose to link to your social media accounts so people can send you cheers along your run!


Any tricks you have for the treadmill…or as many call it, dreadmill?

  • Erin


    I did intervals on Monday to get myself through mentally! I also follow the trick that you gave me last year and think of time in terms of songs. It’s a lot easier to think “I’m running for 8 songs” vs “I’m running 3 miles” on the treadmill!

    • MaryBeth at The Thrive Blog

      I’ve been using the clock on the wall to make the last five minutes go faster! I love the treadmills at the Y have TV’s you can block all your info if you so choose! Thanks for the comment, girl!


  • Jessie


    I LOVE all these tips! Running on the treadmill is inevitable at least a few times during the MN winters, especially if you have a speed workout on the schedule and its too slippery outside. ” Don’t Compare”- so true, but hard to implement sometimes.

    • MaryBeth at The Thrive Blog

      I was totally behind a girl rocking a 3 incline at 6.5 last night and it completely INSPIRED me to step up my game! Thanks for visiting and for the comment, Jessie! I love your blog!


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