How to beat treadmill dreadmill feelings

You may not like this. I don’t have a quick-fix or six things you can do to stop hating the treadmill. That’s because I’ve tried all of them.

I don’t do my best thinking in motion, so “solving the day’s problems” was not going to happen while plodding away. No matter how riveting a podcast I found or how well I matched music to my feet moving, the minutes dragged on. Who can do intervals to split up the time when even thirty seconds felt like 30 minutes?

Let me be clear that I went back to the treadmill because I was desperate. I hit that point in winter where I’m just SICK of frigid morning temperatures and pitch-black runs. I know, first world problems that I actually get to choose whether to be outside when it’s cold and crappy.

I was desperate to keep running, so I returned to the dreadmill.

The first time back was awful, as expected. But it felt good to get a run in, wear shorts, and not have a fountain of snot down my face (running is glamorous).  I clung dearly to that feeling of, “Ultimately, I am glad I did this.”

First, I had to let go of my goal to hit a certain mileage, because it’s my firm belief that treadmills don’t accurately track how far you’ve gone.

This is based on absolutely no scientific evidence, only my own frustration in knowing I’m running as fast as I do outside (measured ultra-scientifically by Spotify’s tempo detector and my own feelings), but having the treadmill tell me I’m going at a significantly slower pace.

I was getting SO annoyed watching the tenths-of-a-mile tick by infuriatingly slowly while the treadmill claimed I was running slower than 11 minutes per mile (a bit of personal news: I now run around 10:30 a mile, which has been a huge milestone). I had fought so hard to finally get under an 11-minute piece and now the world’s most boring piece of machinery was basically laughing in my face.

I could dedicate an entire blog post to this, but I digress.

Once I let go of running a specific number of miles and decided I would set a goal for time, I had to start learning patience. If you’ve ever met me in person, I’m the least patient person in the world so this has been the hardest part. But it’s the truth.

I’ve learned to tolerate like the treadmill by learning to be patient. Womp, womp.

Not super sexy or exciting or quick. It’s just a basic life skill that many of us are terrible at, particularly in (yes I know this is cliche) today’s instant gratification world. It’s part of why I started trail running – because road running was too boring for me. But I don’t always have time to get to a trail, much less when it’s dark and covered in ice.

Winter has made me retreat closer to closer to home, and here I am on a treadmill and kind of enjoying it. The first few times, I was still combating my aforementioned rage over accurate mileage and it felt like the longest 20 minutes OF MY LIFE.

But I was stubborn about clinging to my running fitness, because for the first time EVER, running is sometimes easy for me. I really enjoy it and it makes me feel strong and happy. I never thought I would get to the point that running two miles was “easy.” So I am determined to stay there.

I told myself I had to start with 20 minutes. I tried the fancy Zion National Park course feature (pictured). I listened to podcasts in Spanish so I had to concentrate harder, I listened to my favorite songs. I did whatever it took to get through those first few runs.

Eventually, I was able to get to 25 minutes without much second thought. Last week, I found myself feeling sad that I had to cut off my run at 27 minutes. Today, I was doing those intervals everyone always told me would make the time go faster…because all of a sudden one minute isn’t a long time. All of a sudden, it’d been 30 minutes.

I wish there was a secret cure for not hating the treadmill, but when it comes down to it, you have to be determined to do it in the first place, allow yourself to let go of what frustrates you, and learn to be patient.

…I should probably apply these lessons to other areas of my life.

Published by Laura Cardon

Laura Cardon moved to Colorado as an adult and quickly realized how difficult it was to get started exploring the outdoors in a state full of experts. She founded Outdoor Beginner in 2014 to fill the gap in beginner-friendly content for camping, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. In addition to Outdoor Beginner, she coaches beginner trail runners and works at Runners Roost in Golden, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse and toddler.

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