8 Treadmill Tips and Tricks

Yesterday I was running on the treadmill at the gym and realized I totally have a method to dealing with treadmill training because I kind of hate it.  Give me fresh air and sunshine and I’m a happy runner, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  Here’s what helps me, and hopefully you too!


1) Strategic Location

I always try and pick a treadmill that is on the end of a row or at least one that is in between two empty treadmills.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when I'm slaving away on the dreadmill and someone occupies the one right.next.to.me when there are others available.  I don't want to feel your sweat on me or hear you panting in my ear!  Move along little doggy.

2) Be Competitive! 

If the gym is really busy, and I must be right next to another treadmill runner, then guess what?

 We’re racing. 

You may not know it, but we are.

That's probably only a helpful tip for competitive peeps but it's fun for me!  I sneak a peek at what the person next to me is doing and try to do it just a little bit faster.


3) Multitasking! 

Once I'm on a treadmill, I have to set up all my junk.  I need a full water bottle (this one's my favorite - no sucking, easy to clean), headphones, my phone, and a magazine.  Some people can't read and run, but I find that it passes the time quickly.  There are times I don’t have a magazine and I just watch tv on Hulu or Amazon or Netflix.  There’s also the option to plug in your headphones and watch tv at the gym, though there’s not much control over what you can watch.  I definitely have my “gym shows” that I only allow myself to watch while exercising because either they motivate me to go to the gym, or Phil doesn’t enjoy them so gym time is my only time to watch tv alone.


4) Dress the part.

A proper outfit is key too.  When I first started working out regularly after having babies, I would just throw on a big t-shirt and sweatpants and looked like a lazy bum.  That affects your working out mentality – lazy bums are lazy.  Athletic gals are athletes.   A nice fitting sports bra, good running socks, capri leggings because shorts ride up, a loose tank top because tight ain't right on this mombod, and some cute Sauconys, make me feel ready to work out and like I belong there. While we’re on the topic, check out Johnna’s post on Running Clothes for Beginners.


5) Try Intervals! 

OK, now it's time to work out!  I used to always choose manual option and just play around with my speed and incline as I went, but then I discovered "Speed Interval".  It's so much better!  So you select the speed interval and it asks you to enter your "jog speed" and your "run speed" and then your incline (I always pick 1.0 which is like an incline of a normal road).  Jog speed is your slow speed, so I usually choose 4.0 which is my walking speed.  Then my run speed is 7.0 which is about an 8.5 minute mile.  Once the treadmill starts, it starts on your jog speed, so I immediately push the Speed Interval button to change to run speed and begin running.  The reason I love this button so much is that once you run a couple miles and need a walking break (oh, just me?) all you have to do is hit the speed interval button and it slows you right down to your desired speed faster than pushing the speed arrow down down down (beep beep beep) until you reach it.  Then when you catch your breath and want to run again, the same one touch of a button makes it happen. Read more about interval running!


6) You can do this!

You've heard people say that running is more mental than physical, and I agree 100%.  The struggle in running is making yourself get out there, mentally challenging yourself (because it's not a team sport) to go faster and/or longer, and then the benefits of running are much more mood related than physical for me.  I'm way less stressed, anxious, and depressed when I'm exercising.

OK, this wasn't really a treadmill tip except to say that it's ok that it's hard to get yourself to do it... it's supposed to be hard.  It's in overcoming the difficulty that we change ourselves.  When people say they love running (as I do) they really mean they love finishing the run :)


7) Try tricking yourself…

To help combat the mental roadblocks, I have a few games I play while treadmill training.  For the first mile, I leave on my sweatshirt and don't let myself read or listen to tv.  I just cover up the panel with my magazine (or towel) and start running.  I don't let myself look at how far I've gone until it feels like a mile.  On a good day, by the time I check, it's more than a mile, but mostly it's about 3/4 mile and I just have to push myself to finish that first one.  The first mile is the hardest!!  Once it's over, I take off my sweatshirt.  That's like my reward.  Then for the second mile I let myself watch tv.  After that's over, I walk for .25 miles and then run again while finally earning my magazine.  The rest of the miles are spent running with a couple quarter mile walk breaks in between.  I only allow myself to check my phone and drink water while I'm walking.  And I can only walk if I've run at least a mile.  These games help me get through it!  You can make up your own, but having a reward for every goal you hit is a great motivator, even if the reward is just a sip of water.


8) Mix it up!

Once I'm back in great running shape (getting there!) I try to mix up my running workouts.  Being in running shape to me means I am able to regularly run 5 or 6 miles at 8:30 minutes/mile. No walking breaks.  After I am able to do that consistently, I try to do speed days where I run intervals of like 8.0 versus 6.7 or I'll do hill workouts or I'll run slower but for longer miles.  For the long treadmill runs, which I avoid at all costs - running outside is so much easier - a good trick is to switch treadmills halfway through the run.  At my gym you can only set the treadmill for a maximum of 60 minutes, so once that time is up you have to reset anyway, might as well change your view.  The nice thing about treadmills is that you can really vary a workout and focus on speed or hills easily.  No need to worry about the weather either.  Plus, TV.


I would love to hear your tips and tricks to get through winter treadmill running!  Share them with us in the comments :)

Colleen Martin runs and writes from New England where she also works full-time as a Business Manager at a Catholic high school and raises 7 children on the side ;) Both running and writing have offered Colleen a way to stay sane amidst all the chaos, a beautiful chaos that she thanks God for daily. You can connect with Colleen at her blog here, and her Instagram here.