For many runners, winter can be a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the warmer months of the year. It’s healthy to take some down time for self-care, particularly if you spent weeks training heavily for a big race. But cold temps and nasty weather can also just turn into an excuse to ditch your dedication to a running routine. You don’t have to let it though. After all, treadmills exist.
While the “dreadmill” often gets a bad rap for being boring, we’re here to tell you that stationary runs don’t have to be miserable. You just have to know how to make the most of them. Luckily for us, Peloton run coach Hannah Frankson is here to share her top tips for making indoor runs feel anything but lackluster.
Put on a motivating playlist
It’s not just a myth that music is motivating—there’s actually science to back it up. In a study on the effects of music on athletic performance, researchers found that “music can facilitate high-level performance.” While the study focused on the broad jump, Frankson says that music enhances the running experience—whether on a treadmill or not.
“Have a pre-prepared playlist of your favorite tracks; explore different tempos, different genres, and different decades to keep yourself on your toes,” Frankson says.
Need a playlist recommendation? Allie Bennett’s “Treadmill Strut” playlist has gone viral thanks to the TikToker’s genius workout. Begin by finding your pace then add .1 mph every time the song changes. In every treadmill strut TikTok she posts, she urges followers not to listen to her playlists on shuffle, as they’re carefully curated to accompany the increasing pace of the workout.
Play with interval lengths
Even if you’re training for a half marathon or marathon, you don’t have to always run non-stop for miles on end. “Instead of running at a flat speed for a long time, break your runs down into intervals,” Frankson says. “Maybe do five three-minute intervals, with a one-minute walking break in between, or three five-minute intervals with a two-minute recovery between each.” The point is, the possibilities are endless—and you’re much less likely to get bored when you keep switching up the tempo.
Have a clear goal
When you’re hopping on the treadmill, don’t do so aimlessly. Have a distance or pace in mind. “Think of where running on the treadmill fits into your overall goals,” Frankson says. Maybe you’re looking to work on your glute strength, so you amp up the incline. Or maybe you want to challenge yourself to see how long you can hold an 8-minute pace for. Make the machine work for you.
Run alongside other people
Fitness tracking app Strava recently reported that, last January, runners who recorded group activities completed 78 percent more active time than those who only ran solo. Working out with others can be a huge motivator.
Even if you’re running from the comfort of your own home, modern treadmills—like the Peloton Tread Ultimate ($3,420) and NordicTrack Commercial 2450 ($2,599)—come jam-packed with content to make it feel like you’re not running alone. “The Peloton app has thousands of on-demand classes which allow you to interact with other members and run alongside a global community while following an instructor on screen,” Frankson says.
And if you don’t have your own treadmill, you can hit the gym alongside your bestie. One of the best parts of the machine is that you don’t even need to hit the same paces to stick together.
The point is: Running on a treadmill is only as boring as you make it. But if it’s just not for you, don’t sweat it. “There are so many other ways to get your cardiovascular fitness in and if you don’t enjoy running on a treadmill, you don’t have to,” says Frankson. Zumba, anyone?