After Friday’s Treadmill Boredom Buster Workout, I figured it would be appropriate to follow up with a post about other ways to keep yourself amused when running outside isn’t an option. Of course, there are the obvious ones like switching up your workout daily, trying new machines on your gym’s cardio deck, and listening to music (all of which I highly recommend), but there are a few other little tricks and games I like to play with myself when I hit the treadmill.
Before we get into those, let’s talk about…
4 distractors I’m not so fond of…
1. Thinking about work – It makes everything about running seem SO much harder.
2. Watching Extreme Home Makeover Home Edition on HGTV – I’m not a super emotional person, but every time I see the people’s faces when they all yell ‘Move that bus!” it makes me teary!
3. Reading books and magazines – Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my magazines. I know this distractor works for some people, but I’m kinda of the mind that if I’m able to enjoy a book or magazine while doing cardio, I’m probably not working hard enough. On the other hand, if your intention is to do a lower-intensity workout, it could totally work.
4. Watching TV shows like Wipeout where the competitors have to run through obstacle courses while trying not to get hit by inflatable beams, balls, slime, etc. This is because when they fall, I very nearly fall too.
9 better ways to beat boredom on the treadmill
Aside from constantly changing up the intensity, duration, and style of run that I’m doing, these are my slightly more creative tricks for keeping things interesting.
1. Load up a new playlist
I may sound like Captain Obvious with this one, but it’s amazing what a fresh new list of tunes can do for your workouts. I Shazaam songs from the radio constantly and download them all every couple of weeks. This helps to keep my playlists fresh and motivating.
2. Listen to a podcast
Although I prefer upbeat music for running, sometimes I’ll switch to podcasts. If they’re on a really interesting topic, they help to make the time fly by. Some of my favourites are:
- The Rich Roll Podcast – Rich is a plant-based ultra-endurance athlete, advocate of plant-based living, author, and motivational speaker. He wasn’t always this way – in his earlier life, he struggled with being overweight and addicted to drugs and alcohol. His story is super inspiring, as are the guests on his show.
- Zen and the Art of Triathlon – I’m not a triathlon competitor (yet anyway) but I’ve learned so much from the host of this podcast, Brett, who is a coach, Iron Man, and endurance athlete. He podcasts in the car, from home, and while he’s out on his training runs/rides. If you want to be a fly on the wall in the life of an Iron Man triathlete, this podcast will allow you to do just that.
- No Meat Athlete Radio – You may already be familiar with Matt Frazier, blogger behind NoMeatAthlete.com. As an endurance athlete and blogger, Matt is an amazing resource for helping his audience learn about how to live the lifestyle of an athlete while maintaining a plant-based diet.
- The Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast – Ben is a coach, author, speaker, ex-bodybuilder and Ironman triathlete. He’s also a huge geek when it comes to nutrition, fitness, and hacking the human body, and if you’re also a geek like me, you’ll probably appreciate this one. His podcasts cover the latest research when it comes to health and fitness, and he always answers a handful of reader-submitted questions at the end.
3. Do a treadmill fartlek
Get your mind out of the gutter – this has nothing to do with passing gas! The word ‘fartlek’ means ‘speed play’ in Swedish, and a fartlek run is one where you incorporate periods of hard speed with periods of easier running. Unlike intervals, it’s not structured. That means that you choose when you’re going to go fast and slow down. For example, outdoors this might mean running hard until you see a red car. Then you’d slow down when you see a white car, and amp things back up when you see another red car.
In an indoor environment, a fartlek run could mean running hard until someone new walks on to the cardio deck, and slowing down when someone leaves. If the gym is quiet but you have a TV in front of you, try running hard for 1 commercial and slowing down for the next. Or, run fast when a woman appears on the screen and slow down when a guy enters, or vice versa. This style of training has an element of unpredictability, so fartlek runs will keep your body guessing.
4. Plan the recipes you’re going to make on the weekend
This one is obviously more fun if you’re a foodie! And yes, I do think about food on the treadmill sometimes. Don’t you?
5. Listen for trigger words.
Sort of like the treadmill fartlek, pick a word that comes up in some of the songs on your playlist. Every time you hear it, sprint for 1 minute (or whatever interval you want to sprint for), then slow down. Alternatively, every time you hear the word, increase the incline on your treadmill, and don’t take it back down until the end of the song.
6. Play mind games.
The same games you play in the car on long drives work well on the treddy. Try these ones:
- I’m going on a picnic… Think of an item that starts with ‘A’ that you’d bring along for a picnic, and in your head, say ‘I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing a____”. Then re-start, this time adding something that starts with ‘B’. Keep restarting from the beginning, adding the next letter in the alphabet. If you’re really good, you’ll be able to mentally recall and recite a list of 26 things by the time you’re finished!
- A-Z Movie Titles – Start at the beginning of the alphabet and think of a movie title that starts with A, then B, C, D, etc.
- A-Z Celebrities – Same as movie titles, but for celebrity names.
7. Ask yourself some ‘in a perfect world’ questions, like…
- Where would your dream vacation be? What would you see and do, where would you stay, and who would you go with?
- What would be on the menu at your wedding? (I personally care about this more than I do the dress.)
- Which celebrities would be your best friends?
- How would you spend your days if you didn’t have to work?
- What would your dream house look like?
8. Watch CityLine…
…or any other show that has fashion segments and think of ways to use your current wardrobe to create similar outfits.
9. Race the person next to you…
… and if they stop before you do, you win!
So tell me…
- How do you keep yourself entertained when you’re doing a cardio session, running or otherwise?
- Do you listen to podcasts when you work out? Which are your favourites?