Treadmills deserve some love. They allow runners to train during bouts of bad weather. Plus, they’re useful for workouts that require precise manipulation of speed and incline. But let’s face it: Striding in place between four walls is not as invigorating as covering ground in the open air.
With the right approach, however, treadmill running can be almost as fun as a jog in the park on a beautiful day. The key to eliminating boredom while running on the ’mill is to tailor your workouts to the indoor environment instead of trying to replicate the sessions you do outside.
1. Coasting: Imagine your body is a car traveling down a hill. Mentally shift into neutral and allow gravity to carry you as you expend as little effort as possible. This teaches whole-body relaxation.
2. Running against a wall: Picture a wall six inches from your face. To avoid hitting it with your legs as you run, you must shorten your stride a bit and touch your feet to the ground directly underneath your hips. This cue corrects overstriding.
3. Running quietly: Listen to the sound your feet make when landing on the treadmill. Now try to run more quietly. Don’t think about what your body is doing; just concentrate on the sound. This cue reduces impact forces.
4. Grip and thrust: Imagine your treadmill has no motor. To move the belt you have to grip it actively with your foot as it lands and thrust it backward. This cue reduces ground-contact time.
5. Running on rails: Imagine you are running on a pair of narrow rails. To avoid stumbling, you have to keep your feet perfectly aligned, your heels directly behind your toes. This cue corrects the common problem of internal thigh rotation (aka “knock knees”).