Although people who actually got seriously ill were the ones who suffered most during the coronavirus epidemic, runners didn’t have it all that easy either.
Pounding an indoor treadmill, assuming you even have one, just isn’t a real substitute for road running. For one thing, the repetitive motion is less effective at conditioning your joints and core muscles.
The greater problem is more immediate, though. Spending anything more than a few minutes on this Victorian-era punishment device leads to mental fatigue long before you really start to burn calories.
Perhaps some of you reading this are able to go into a kind of meditative state while wheezing along in place. Good for you, but the rest of us would dearly love to know how to make treadmill running less boring. After all, sometimes the weather really makes exercising indoors the more comfortable proposition – you can track your performance much more accurately, and a treadmill with an adjustable suspension is a lot kinder to your knees than tarmac.
So, since treadmills have all of these advantages, let’s take a look at how we can ameliorate their greatest drawback and make running on a treadmill less of a grind.
Vary Your Speed and Resistance
If your goal is to run 26 miles at 8 minutes per mile, it should make sense to train at that pace until you can maintain it for the length of a marathon course, right?
Well, no. Using a combination of fast and slow running is much more effective at building stamina, improving form, and enhancing aerobic performance.
As an added bonus, this forces you to concentrate on your running instead of simply letting your mind wander. Most treadmills give you a choice between using preset programs or creating your own speed/incline schedules.
Do Other At-Home Exercises for Variation
Similarly, training for running by doing nothing besides running may not be the best approach.
Shaking things up a little with other exercises that don’t require any special gym equipment will challenge you and drive away the tedium.
There are even several exercises besides running you can do on the treadmill itself.
Graph Your Numbers
One of the cooler abilities of modern treadmills is connecting to your phone, either to play music or get your performance data to your favorite fitness app.
The psychological importance of the latter can’t be understated: remember that improving your fitness is always a long-term proposition. Using a whiteboard or wall poster to display your progress can be a fantastic motivator.
Plug in Some Entertainment
As we just mentioned, some treadmills have built-in speakers to help you pump some tunes. Other ways to pass the time include audiobooks, ebooks, TED talks, and whatever you can find on Netflix.
There is another option you may not be aware of, though. Cyclists have been able to liven up their indoor workouts for years with virtual reality apps that display scenic routes while varying their machines’ resistance to reflect the digital terrain.
Though wearing an immersive headset on a treadmill seems unsafe, Zwift allows you to run through a picturesque virtual world along with numerous other users.
Zombies, Run! is less immersive, interacting with you only through your headphones, but is still a surprising amount of fun.
Become Aware of Your Body
Running in your living room may not be all that exciting, but at least you don’t have to be on the lookout for traffic, potholes, and overly friendly canines. This makes it the perfect opportunity to focus on your running form.
Concentrate on one body part at a time: are you landing on your heels and rolling your weight forward? Does your neck begin to droop after a couple of miles? Are you tensing up your shoulders, or is each impact driving air from your lungs?
Correcting your technique not only makes you look a lot more graceful, it absolutely saves energy and improves your pace.
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Some people have a deep-rooted (and understandable) dislike for the monotony of plodding along on the “dreadmill”. At the end of the day, though, the machine isn’t actually going to hurt you. The reluctance you feel about getting on it and committing to a certain workout is all in your head, and nothing compared to the guilt you’ll feel about skipping a workout.
To start with, try not to think of running indoors as a chore but rather as some valuable me-time. It may not be as much fun as running among the butterflies and ocean breezes (or more realistically, headlights and wind-blown trash), but there are plenty of ways to make the whole experience more inspiring as well as more effective.