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Learning to stop hating on the treadmill

The treadmill does have its good points. Don’t be a hater of this excellent piece of gym equipment.


I sometimes hear runners say they “hate” the treadmill. In part, I understand where that comes from — the treadmill pales in comparison to a run in scenic outdoor landscapes. However, in all that it lacks, it still serves its purpose.

Without a treadmill what would a runner do when the weather turns foul, or an injury demands a consistent, controlled foundation? Would they not run? It’s easy to pick on the treadmill, but with the proper mindset it’s possible to stop “hating” these runs or even look forward to them.

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Living in Saskatchewan the treadmill run is a must at times, especially during the winter months. This year, the weather has been unseasonably mild so I haven’t had to hit the gym too often. But when I have, I’ve discovered some strategies that help make treadmill running better.

Expectations: You can’t expect to get on a treadmill and feel the same as when you hit the roads. That will only set you up for disappointment. You will spend minute by minute despising your workout. I’ve found it’s helpful to go into a treadmill run acknowledging it isn’t going to feel the same as running outside — and that’s OK because it’s at least an opportunity to run. Focusing on the benefits of the workout and the parts you look forward to will set you up for a successful run.

Music: It’s no secret that listening to music on the treadmill goes a long way towards keeping your sanity. I think it’s possible to take this a bit further by making sure that the music you’re listening to is what your ears have been craving to hear. I’ve taken this strategy as far as purposefully not listening to Adele’s new album anytime other than on my treadmill runs. I’ve managed to keep this favourite of mine fresh and I look forward to it when stepping onto the treadmill.

Pacing: This is fun. If there’s one thing I like about the treadmill, it’s that it keeps you honest about your pace. By increasing the incline between a one and two per cent grade, you create a similar resistance to that which you put out on the road. This gives you a fairly accurate assessment of your pace and how it would translate to the pavement or trail. By including intervals in your workout, you can push the pace and check in on your fitness. On the flip side, the treadmill can also help to keep the easy runs easy on recovery days. This is a good practice in discipline: set the treadmill at your appropriate recovery pace and don’t allow yourself to increase it. Playing with pacing makes your runs on the treadmill challenging and more engaging.

View: Staring at a blank wall only perpetuates the monotonous feeling of running on a treadmill. Finding a gym where there’s action going on around you can add interest to the run. My favourite place to run on the treadmill is the Saskatoon Field House. This recreational facility has an indoor track on the main floor and exercise equipment, including treadmills, above. I enjoy watching the action below as put in my miles.

Gratitude: Above all else, I’ve found a simple reminder of how fortunate I am to be healthy and able to run silences any silly complaints I may have about a treadmill workout. I get to run and I’m thankful for that, treadmill or not.