Treadmill running often gets a bad reputation. Many people seem to think that treadmill running isn’t for “serious” runners or that treadmill running is inherently easier, and therefore inferior to, running outdoors. Simply stated, sometimes life and schedule constraints dictate that runners must resort to using treadmills to get in their day’s allotted miles, and when given the option between not running at all or running on a treadmill, suffice it to say that most runners would opt for the latter.
However, don’t think that the so-called “dreadmill” needs to live up to its bad name. Sub-par weather, safety concerns, or needing to stay home to care for loved ones are all perfectly sound reasons that runners routinely hit up the ‘mill, and there are even some runners out there who’d willingly run on a treadmill for fun (shocking, isn’t it?!). Next time you hop on the belt to throw down some indoor mileage, take into consideration the following tips, and who knows? Maybe you’ll actually find yourself looking forward to a treadmill run for a change.
Variety is the spice of life
Many runners who live in flat areas naturally flock to running flat races, and the same also goes for runners who live in hilly terrain. Incorporating treadmill running into your training will allow you to include elevation – including ascents, descents, or even totally flat-land-like running – that would otherwise be hard to come by if you exclusively run outside. Nowadays, most treadmills offer runners many options, typically in the form of percentages, to vary their running gradation they can apply to their runs to allow them to run on man-made steep or rolling hills or pancake-flat roads. Changing up the elevation will surely make your mileage fly by, too. While the treadmill doesn’t perfectly mimic the elevation you’d find outside, it still can be an effective training tool. Running exclusively flatlands or exclusively steep hills can become monotonous, and the treadmill allows you to escape to a different terrain – without leaving the comforts of your home.
Take a moment to be grateful.
Maybe it didn’t dawn on you as you were begrudgingly getting ready to hop on the machine, but take a minute to be grateful that this nearly 200-year old invention exists because without it, you wouldn’t have been able to complete your run for the day. Having a little perspective, and a healthy dose of gratitude, can go a long way. Running indoors on a stationary object might not be as mentally exhilarating as running outdoors or through the mountains, but between treadmill running or not running at all, many runners would surely enthusiastically opt for the former. You might not need to or have the opportunity to run on a treadmill all the time, but when you do, it’s not the end of the world. Promise.
Runners are notoriously Type-A individuals who enjoy being in control, and if you train on a treadmill, you have the luxury of being in control of one fickle element: the weather. Indoor training on a treadmill gives you the opportunity to acclimate to temperatures that may be significantly warmer or colder than the current outdoor temps. This can be especially helpful if you’re training for an event in drastically different seasons – for example, training through a cold winter for an event in a humid, tropical climate. If you run outdoors, you are at the mercy of the elements, but treadmill running gives you an out to escape to a climate that could be significantly different than yours currently.
Make it social
Running on a treadmill could afford you the opportunity to run with your friends who are considerably slower or faster than you – folks you usually wouldn’t be able to run with – because you aren’t canvassing over land like you would be outside. Running with friends is usually more fun and makes the time go by more quickly, and being able to run with different folks could be a great boost to your training.
Look forward to the mindless entertainment!
As mentioned, treadmill running can be a great escape, and if you are going to be spending a lot of time on a treadmill, why not also help make the miles fly by with some mindless entertainment? Many treadmill runners enjoy watching movies or television series to help escape the potential monotony of the ‘mill. You may become so immersed in your entertainment that you forget that you’re running or – even better – you run for longer so you can finish your show.
Running outdoors isn’t always a viable option, and the treadmill can become an effective training tool to help fill-in the gaps. Situations and preferences sometimes dictate that treadmill running is necessary, and the tips above show you how you can actually look forward to your runs on the ‘mill. The “dreadmill” is only as dread-worthy as you make it, but there are plenty of ways to still fun while getting your run in indoors.
Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and he has been featured on runnerblogs all over the world.