Diet Blog

Don't dread the treadmill

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Do you find yourself getting bored and giving up after ten or fifteen minutes on the treadmill? It’s frustrating when you know you could physically jog for longer, but your mind just wont let you. But if you have a few strategies to help make the treadmill more fun- or at least make the time pass more easily- you can get through the workout you know you can do.

Here are some ideas for taking the boredom out of running or walking on the treadmill…

Distract yourself

The most common way to keep yourself entertained is to listen to music or watch TV- and for a lot of people, it works well. When your attention is focused on how tired you are or how bored you’re feeling, it’s hard to keep going. Music or television offer a good distraction- you can’t focus on too many thoughts at once, so listening to or watching something that you enjoy and that engages you can often help you to work harder and feel less fatigue.

Music is a particularly good option, as it can also help to set your pace and keep your momentum going. Some studies have shown that music can help to improve your exercise performance by setting the pace and keeping you inspired as well as distracted. Choose music that triggers positive feelings in you and inspires you to complete a better workout! Pick tracks with an appropriate tempo and listen actively to the lyrics and the beat. And remember to keep mixing up your playlist- if you keep playing the same songs each time, you’ll find your mind tuning it out after a while, so it won’t be as effective a distraction.

Cover the console

There’s nothing that makes time go more slowly when you’re on the treadmill than watching the clock tick away. Putting your towel (or a magazine, or anything!) over the monitor to cover up the clock can often be a really effective way of keeping yourself motivated. Constantly being aware of the time will just make you feel more drained, bored and tired, so cover it up and concentrate on something else. If you like to check the calories burned or distance covered, try to just take a peek every so often instead of constantly watching.

Add intervals

Not only are intervals a fantastic way to build your fitness and blast calories, they can also be a great way to beat treadmill boredom. Mixing things up means you don’t have time to get bored, and you always have something to focus on.

Interval training sounds fancy, but it’s a really simple principle. Basically, all it means is you mix up your speed or incline to alternate sessions of higher intensity with easier, recovery periods. For example, if you usually aim to run for 30 minutes at one continuous pace, try breaking it up into 6 five-minute intervals, alternating between sprints and a slower jog. 

The length of your intervals or the amount of difference between them is up to you. You can follow a specific interval routine, or just play it by ear and change up the speed or incline whenever you find yourself getting bored.

Race someone

If you use the treadmill at the gym, take a peek at the person next to you and challenge yourself to keep up with their pace- or beat it! Try to keep running for as long as they do. Obviously, if you need a break you shouldn’t push yourself too hard, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t “win.” But by setting a challenge like that, you will have something to focus on that might help you to run further and faster.

This can work even better if you can bring a friend along, particularly if they are of the same or higher fitness level than you. Set a challenge like ‘first one to a kilometre wins’, or see who can run the furthest distance in ten minutes. Some friendly competition can be motivating, and help make your workout seem more like a game.

If you’re alone in the gym, or you have your own personal treadmill at home, you can still set challenges and play games by yourself. Pick a random goal and see if you can beat your own effort. By making it fun and giving yourself something to concentrate on, you can distract yourself from the tiredness and any other negative feelings you have about exercising.

Celebrate along the way

Congratulate yourself after each small milestone, not just at the end. If your goal is to run for 30 minutes, give yourself a little pat on the back after each ten, or even five. You should feel good about how you’re progressing and treat each small accomplishment as something to be proud of. Feeling positive about what you’re doing is the best way to encourage yourself to keep going!

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