It’s something I hear all the time “why do you run, running is so boring”, “how do you keep going?”. Well I actually love doing cardio. I love the endorphin buzz I get afterwards, but getting to that point is often as much a mental battle as physical. There are tricks to beat treadmill boredom.
We’ll cover the health and fitness benefits of running elsewhere, for now I’m going to focus on people who want to run but can’t get passed that point when the legs and lungs start to burn. Because while I love it, there’s no denying it, when the legs and the lungs start to burn, I need a distraction, sometimes I need lots of distractions!
This is a photo of my treadmill. It looks a bit cobbled together here, but it’s actually in great condition, it’s just covered in ways I can distract myself! Nevermind treadmill boredom, you can barely see the treadmill – note that the wee tiny hands in the photo aren’t mine, she was next up for a run.
When I’m on the treadmill and I’m struggling, this is what’s going through my head:
“Arrrgghhhhh my legs….I can’t breathe…I can’t breathe…how long is that…it must be another kilometre by now…”
So I’ll glance at the clock and I’ll have done maybe 30s since I last checked. ? So when I’m running, I really need to get out of my own head.
Whatever tunes work for you. For me it has to be fast, the faster the better, and preferably with lyrics I can sing along to, only in my head! I sure hope I was only singing in my head! If you think Pavarotti’s greatest hits is calming or motivating, go with that.
Again whatever works for you, if you’re on a treadmill it can be overlooking a great view. For me personally, I like to add a tv or tablet with something inspirational, like a football game or an action movie with lots of fit people. If you’re running outside try to find somewhere you enjoy, somewhere inspirational. A park, the beach, somewhere you can people watch, a loch or lake.
It’s up there with having a view or a tv to watch, and it definitely won’t work if you’re running outside! But if you’re on a treadmill I like to have a kindle on hand. It’s not going to work with a paper book but turning a page at a touch of the screen is perfect. It’s nice and easy, even at speed, and it’s a great way to get out of your head and distract from that treadmill boredom.
Are you going for a PB, a recovery run, steady state jog, interval run? For some types of run it is useful to see the clock, for intervals you want to know when it’s time to switch speeds, for a PB you need to watch your splits. But if you’re struggling to keep going, I like to cover the clock so I don’t see the seconds or metres slooowly ticking away.
Unless I’m really pushing it, or right at the end of a run, deep down I know that my heart isn’t actually going to jump out of my chest. I’m not going to hyperventilate and pass out, and I’m not going to throw up. So I know I just need to remind myself of that and calm down, focus on slowing my breathing. Pretty quickly that’s exactly what does happen, I calm down and carry on with my run. A good heartrate monitor is a great way to confirm you’re not overdoing it. It’s also a great way to make sure you’re exercising at the right levels for your goals. I always use one.
When all else fails and I still can’t get beyond “arrgghh my legs” I call in the big guns. I start in with the maths. How far have I run, how long has it taken, how far have I got to go, how long do I have to get there to beat my time target. Speed is distance divided by time, or time is distance divided by speed, some high school physics comes in handy!
These are the tactics that work for me. They beat my treadmill boredom, the trick is to find out what works for you and do that. Do them all if need be. I enjoy running, more than that I love the feelings I get after I’ve been for a run. I’m exhausted, I’m drenched in sweat, I’m sore, but most of all, I’m buzzing! I feel awesome! I feel 10ft tall! I feel…bouncy and positive and optimistic. I love helping others feel the same way!
I’d love to know if any of my tactics help, or if you have different tactics!
Looks like there's a new version of my treadmill, I might need to do some shopping… 😀