Liven Up Your Treadmill Runs

It's been two weeks since Spring has sprung, but in many areas of the country, the worst winter in recorded history, possibly since the ice age, still has us in its cold grip. After a brief, tantalizing taste of warm, sunny weather earlier this week, I was ready to talk about leaving your headphones at home and enjoy the outdoors and your own thoughts. But in Chicago this morning it was 34 degrees and raining.

Instead, many runners this week are dreading yet another trudge indoors on the treadmill. Unless you enjoy staring off into space, or more often, a brick wall, headphones and music or video can actually be helpful. I have been working my way through the first couple seasons of Game Of Thrones. Whether you prefer listening to ebooks, podcasts, workout mixes or TV and movies, treadmill runs can still drag. While it can be tempting to zone out and cruise at the same pace for the entire run, changing things up can result in a more engaging and challenging run.

  • Vary the incline settings to simulate hills. Many treadmills have presets that can automatically vary it for you.
  • Try a graduated tempo workout. Warm up for a mile or 10 minutes, and try to stretch if possible. If people are waiting for the treadmill, you may have to warm up with a few exercises and stretches before getting on the treadmill. Every half mile, increase your pace by 15-30 seconds per mile. For example, if your easy warmup pace is 10 min/mile and you start at 9 min/mile, increase the speed the next half mile to 8:40. If you reach a speed where you are unable to hold it for a half mile, use your judgement whether you want to shorten it to a quarter mile, or use it as a sign to start your cooldown, slowing down for the next half mile to mile to your original warmup pace.
  • Do a Fartlek, which is a Swedish term for "speed play." This is less structured than tempo or intervals, where you increase your pace for varying lengths of time and varying speed. There are no rules, just do what feels right!

What are your favorite treadmill workouts?

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: Y, YMCA, Run, Running, Jog, treadmill, indoor, workouts

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