How to Beat Boredom on the Treadmill

How to Beat Boredom on the Treadmill

Woman excursing on treadmill, low section
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Many runners in cold weather climates log a good number of miles on treadmill during the winter, and their biggest complaint is usually, "Treadmill running is boring." To keep your treadmill workouts from getting stale, try some of these tips for beating boredom on the treadmill.

Try an interval workout.

Treadmill Runner
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Interval Workouts:  Rather than running at a constant pace, mix up your run with hard and easy segments. It can be as simple as: A five-minute warm-up followed by three sets of four-minute intervals (two minutes of hard running and two minutes of easy running), followed by a five-minute cool-down.

Run with a friend.


If you and a friend belong to the same gym, get her to run on the treadmill next to you. You can motivate each other and provide distraction to make your workout time go by faster. And one great thing about treadmill running with friends is that you don't have to be the same pace, so you can run with friends who you wouldn't normally run with outside.

Listen to music.


Although using headphones while running outside is not safe, listening to music on the treadmill can be a great way to combat boredom and run longer. Choose motivating songs and create a running songs playlist for your workout -– it will help prevent you from continually checking the clock to see how much more you have to go.

Mix it up with strength-training exercises.

Pushup on Fitness Ball
Stuart Gregory

After a 5-minute warm-up, run at a comfortable pace for five minutes, then step off the treadmill and do two minutes of strength-training exercises, such as crunches, push-ups, side-crunches,lunges and dips. Try doing four sets of running/strength-training.

Also see:  Strengthening Workouts for Runners

Listen to audiobooks.

runner on treadmill with headphones

When I first started listening to audiobooks during runs, I enjoyed it so much that I was kicking myself for not trying it sooner. Whether it's an enlightening non-fiction book or a juicy novel, listening to it helps keep me distracted and motivated to keep moving. And when I'm in the middle of a good audiobook, I find myself really looking forward to my next run. is an excellent resource for finding audiobooks. My library also has an enormous selection of free audiobooks to borrow, so be sure to check yours before you buy one.

Also see:  Audiobooks for Runners

Work on improving your stride turnover.

Treadmill runners

Treadmill runs are a great opportunity to work on improving your stride turnover because you've got your running time right in front of you. All you have to do is count how many times one foot hits the belt in a minute, then double that number to get your stride count. Elite runners run at about 180 steps per minute -- see how close you can get to that. Working on your stride count can improve your running efficiency, even for outdoor runs.

Zone out.

Treadmill running
Andersen Ross

Unlike running outside, treadmill running doesn't require that you pay close attention to your surroundings and watch out for cars, cyclists, dogs, and other hazards. You don't even have to think about your route. So running on a treadmill gives you a chance to lose yourself in the rhythm of your breathing feet or your pounding feet. Try blocking out everything around you and enter a peaceful, relaxing state.

Do a pyramid workout.

Runner touching treadmill controls
Darryl Leniuk

The time flies by during this treadmill workout because you're paying so much attention to your interval times. After a 5-minute warm-up, run hard (5K pace) for one minute, recover one minute; run hard two minutes, recover two minutes; run hard three minutes, recover two minutes; run hard four minutes, recover two minutes; run hard five minutes, recover two minutes.

Then work your way back down the "pyramid" and run hard four minutes, recover two minutes; run hard three minutes, recover two minutes; run hard two minutes, recover two minutes; run hard one minute, recover one minute. End the workout with a 5-minute cooldown.

More: Pyramid Speed Workout

Watch television.

woman on treadmill
PM Images/Getty

If you belong to a gym, you may be able to run on treadmill with a tv or watch a television mounted on the wall. Even if that's not an option, you can easily watch on an iPad or laptop computer, using online streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.  Check out these options for top headphones for runners.

Alternate with another cardio machine.

Blend Images - Dave and Les Jacobs

Try breaking up your run by alternating with the bike or elliptical trainer. If you want to do a 40-minute cardio workout, run on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then jump on another machine for 10 minutes, and keep alternating until you've reached your total goal time.

If you run on a treadmill at home and that's your only cardio machine, try running up and down the stairs for five minutes, in between running segments.

Also see:

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