When the weather drops below 30 degrees, it’s almost impossible to talk yourself into an outdoor run. Who are we kidding? It is impossible. When the treadmill becomes a constant in our routines (and it invariably does every winter), it’s difficult to have the same level of enthusiasm when you run in place. With no visual stimuli or a clear destination in sight, you have to get creative. We caught up with Bowflex Fitness Advisor Tom Holland (and the author of Beat the Gym, a must read) on how to make treadmill sessions fun this season—we promise.
“Boredom can be a huge factor when it comes to running on the ‘dreadmill,’” says Holland. “Changing around your workout format (steady-state, tempo, intervals, hills), listening to new music, running with a friend next to you, and even running at different times of the day” will help to stoke your enthusiasm,” he adds.
Holland also recommends treadmill classes, an emerging trend. With a room full of treadmills, the instructor at the head of the room pumps the music up and leads the class in steps, and even in aerobic step routines. If class times don’t fit into your schedule, add intervals to your solo run. “Intervals not only help keep you mentally stimulated, but they’re also a great way to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time,” Holland says. Choose between preset programs, designing your own, or using a program like Motion Traxx’s “Coached Cardio” for even more structure and guidance. “There are also treadmills, like the new Nautilus T616 ($999, nautilus.com), which offers Bluetooth connectivity and a free trainer app that has more than 26 customizable programs that track workout time, distance traveled, and calories burned,” Holland recommends.
Setting goals for your treadmill workouts as you would your outdoor runs is still possible, but it’s fair to say that it may require a bit more creativity. “Vary your goals depending upon your mood that day: Choose a time-based goal one day, other times go by distance, or even choose a total-calories burn for workouts as well,” says Holland.
Regardless of how forced the treadmill may feel—yes, even with these tweaks—be aware that it has benefits over its outdoor counterpart, too. “Running on a treadmill can be easier due to the lack of wind resistance and the fact that the belt is moving underneath you,” says Holland. Plus, many treadmills are set on a slight downhill whereas, Holland says, “Running outside can be more difficult due to the changing terrain.”
So yes, you may be running in place, but worry not: You are making moves.