After my 11 mile treadmill run a fellow runner and Instagrammer, Erin, asked me, “How do you stay motivated on the treadmill?” She explained that after running 4-5k, she was bored.
It’s so common to be bored on the treadmill. It can be a mental challenge for sure! The treadmill is an amazing training tool though, and if you find something that works for you it’ll take the dread out of ‘dreadmill’. I decided to write up what has worked for me. Hopefully you’ll find at least one of these helpful too!
- Visualization – If I’m doing a long distance run on the treadmill, I’m training for a race. So, I picture myself running the race and approaching the finish line and imagine how amazing it is going to feel. I admittedly have cried many times on the treadmill doing this haha! But, it passes time pretending to maneuver through the course and approach the finish line.
- Start out at an easy pace – Starting out slow will save your legs for the rest of your run (obviously this is smart not just for treadmill running). If you’re not struggling, chances are you’re not going to be wondering “How much farther?”
- Daydream about an upcoming vacation – Even if you don’t have a vacation planned, think about one you’d like to take and imagine what you’d be doing, what the weather would be like, what yummy pool-side drinks you’d be enjoying (ha!). It sounds silly, but I’ve totally done this and before you know it a couple miles have passed. Lately I have been thinking about our Disney vacation and imagine how much fun that’ll be seeing ‘A’s’ face light up when she sees her favorite characters, think about how exciting the fireworks display will be, etc.
- Update your playlist and turn up the tunes! – I rarely ever run with music when I run outside. There is something about being outdoors for me that makes it a-ok to be headphone free. So, when I run indoors it helps tremendously to have something else to focus on. My last long run I put Celine Dion’s “That’s the Way It Is” on repeat for the last 3 miles haha! Whatever gets you through, who cares how cheesy it is! There are a few lines in that song that could easily be translated to be running related, and that’s what got me replaying it. “Don’t surrender ’cause you can win”, “When you want it the most there’s no easy way out > When you’re ready to go and your heart’s left in doubt > Don’t give up on your faith”, “I see what you’re going through, It’s an uphill climb…”
- If you’re planning on running a little chunk of your run at one specific pace, make an account at RockMyRun.com and download music mixes that are a certain beats per minute (<– click there for a pace/bpm breakdown). When your music and treadmill align, it may make your run feel easier being synchronized.
- Watch a movie while you run – Last winter when I was training for the Country Music Marathon, I did a few of my long runs on the treadmill. One of them I did on my treadmill at home and watched some chick-flicks to help pass the time. Nothing like watching Matthew McConaughey & J.Lo fall in love on screen ;). Now your turn… name that movie! 😉 It’s one of my favorites.
- Change the incline or speed occasionally – Changing speed or incline every so often can keep you engaged and keep things interesting, especially if you’re doing it at consistent intervals and they’re not a far distance / long period of time.
- Think about a big project you’re working on – Be that something at work, or in your personal life — it helps pass the time! I have lately been thinking about our upcoming house construction. I’ve thought about everything from how I’m going to decorate and set-up each room (especially my home gym!) to just picturing the trees being cut down, and walls going up, etc.
- Repeat a special mantra – Say whatever keeps you going. You can do hard things, you’re stronger than yesterday, you CAN do this, accept no limits, keep pushing, believe! I love my Momentum Jewelry for these kinds of reminders.
- Just zone out! – I probably do more zoning out when I am running outside for long runs (obviously I am still paying attention to my surroundings/traffic), but I end up just blocking out all thoughts and outside noise and just be in the moment. I use this often when I’m about 3/4 through a long run on the treadmill, which is usually when I find it to be the hardest section of the run. It sounds funny, but I look out the window and just stare at the trees and let my mind kind of just go numb. If you’re so relaxed and not worrying about anything, you could run right through a tough part of your run.
- Break the run up into segments – Say you’re scheduled to run 15 miles, break it up into three 5 mile sections. Three shorter runs seems a lot more manageable than one long run. If your treadmill is like mine, it tops out and will reset after a certain distance. So, you’re going to have to stop anyway. Make the most of it and use it as a quick break to stretch if you feel like you need it, and gather your thoughts before moving onto the next segment.
Hope these help you conquer your next treadmill long run! Do you find running long distances on the treadmill to be a mental challenge? Do you do any of these things to help get you through the miles on the treadmill? Or do you do something else?