Updated: October 11th, 2021
Beat boredom: 11 ways to make treadmill runs entertaining again.

That time of year is looming; shorter days and bitter cold nights. Where safety concerns skyrocket for those wet, slippy trails, and we’re now sticking to routes fully lit up with street lights or hitting the gym.

And let’s face it, treadmill workouts can be gloriously boring. Especially when you’re used to exploring the wilderness to no end throughout the spring-summer seasons; returning to the gym seems bleak to say the least, so how about we beat this boredom?

Let’s make treadmill workouts, fun, stimulating, and challenging again. Let us end the laborious feeling like a hamster on a hamster wheel, staring at the grey walls or even worse, clock watching! Do you accept the challenge? Find a treadmill and let’s go!

    Treadmill beat the boredom

  1. Read
  2. For the coordinately gifted souls amongst us, this is for you. Nothing beats a good book, other than multitasking and getting your daily dose of exercise AND reading your favourite book at the same time?! – stick the treadmill on a steady set one pace if you prefer not to be thinking about what your body is doing and read away. Students this could help you too! There is copious research that says we retain information better when revising on the move. I used this and took study notes with me to the gym and set the timer for 45 minutes; it is amazing what you can learn in that time! (And not notice time ticking away).

  3. Audiobooks/podcast
  4. For the less coordinated or those who find reading on the move makes you nauseous how about downloading your favourite as an audiobook and committing to run for 3 chapters?

    As a bit of a podcast fiend whenever I run (you will be able to notice who else is too; we laugh out loud a lot). You can make them more fun to train with…
    During adverts, I crank up the speed and see if I can sprint through them. Only to ease off the intensity when the show is back on and I can chuckle again without getting a stitch.

    Reading on a treadmill

  5. Play games
  6. I must admit I do this on a rowing machine all the time and it’s genius! With rowing, I play a fishing game – your efforts match the needs of the game to keep the fish from getting eaten, thoroughly entertaining… I’ve also been introduced to Zombies, Run! A game you can play whilst running either inside on a treadmill or outside, where you have to escape the zombies.
    Complete with stories and missions to help rebuild the town of zombie apocalypse survivors. Sign up for free by Downloading the app and get going (before the zombies get you too!)

  7. Create a particular playlist
  8. A seriously handy tool, especially when preparing for longer runs and you know you will need the boost. Back in the day, the Nike app used to feature a ‘power song’ – if you clicked the icon on your phone whilst running it would bust out the power tune and get you back motivated to carry on. Of course, nowadays we have Spotify or Apple Music or pandora where you can create your own.

    So why not?

    If you know the first 10 minutes are tough for you, stick to your favourites, some upbeat, motivational songs that you thoroughly enjoy listening to (10 minutes is only around 3 songs). Then repeat them later on in the playlist for a boost, or add in extras every 10 minutes or so to keep you going; it’s a wonder what music can do for your morale and motivation.

  9. Get competitive
  10. Another favourite of mine – race the person next to you. Every time they up the speed; so do you (only if it’s safely in your realm to do so) same goes for the incline, and even time sent on the treadmill; when they leave you continue for 5 minutes longer. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone (especially when they don’t know about it).

    run start line

  11. Fartlek
  12. Not just a silly word, Fartlek training is known as one of the most mentally stimulating ways to train, and it can be done in SO MANY ways. The most basic? Click the Random button (and keep an eye on the speed) that will replicate fartlek training by altering the speed and gradients. Otherwise have a play with the settings yourself, manually.

    The beautiful nature of fartlek training means it doesn’t require structure. You can really mix it up. So perhaps sprint for one advert but slow it down and up the incline for the next. For your next song perhaps change the speed for the chorus or each chapter of your book. Zero limits, just speed play.

    Get ready for competition

  13. Plan your workouts around your favourite TV shows
  14. Suppose you really want to run, but you cannot miss the next episode of Brooklyn 99 or Sex education. Well stream it online and watch whilst you runmost if not all treadmills have TV’s these days – find the channel and who knows, you might run longer just to finish.

    Streaming videos or taking Netflix to the gym has salvaged many of my treadmill days. Knowing 3 episodes of Friends will see me through my cardio needs for the day; makes it easier to endure. And much funnier than watching the clock. Why does 10 minutes feel so much longer on a treadmill?

  15. Explore mode
  16. Speaking of fancy TV treadmills, select a location such as through a bustling city or climb a mountain trail. The TV gives you the view whilst the treadmill alters your efforts. You control the intensity and time. Then like Jumanji; just be immersed in your adventure; see you at the end.

    Explore on a treadmill

  17. Cover up your monitor
  18. Okay okay, if you’re not using the TV do you really need to look a the clock? Just like when you want to leave work on Friday; staring at the clock doesn’t make finishing time come around any quicker.

  19. Involve your sport
  20. So maybe you’re not solely a runner, maybe you use the treadmill to up your cardio for your sports; soccer, football, basketball, whatever it is. Why not involve your sport?

    From watching the games and replicating their efforts; sprinting when the players do, easing to a walk at time-out or half times – hey why not even throw in a celebration when they do? You may get some funny looks but who cares?

    Likewise, we have all seen those crazies with the soccer balls on the treadmill; give that a whirl (slow right down please! Maybe practise somewhere quiet first). When I treat athletes’ injuries, I try to get their sport involved. As much a possible; if that means someone is running on the treadmill with a football under their arm then so be it. The same goes for tennis rackets, holding a basketball or even fiddling with a golf ball; it makes the treadmill sessions much more neatly focused on your sport than just another run.

    Soccerball on a treadmill

  21. Fitness tests
  22. If you’re having to move most of your training to the treadmill why not throw in a fitness test every 6 weeks? Testing how fast you can run a mile or how many kilometres you can cover in 20 minutes? Having a test to aim for can help motivate your training each week to push that little harder and smash previous efforts.

What helped you get through your latest treadmill session? We would love to hear from you; any suggestions to add to the list?

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