How to get through a long run on the treadmill

how to get through a long run on a treadmill

After I announced that I’d completed 11 miles on the treadmill on Saturday, I had a number of comments and emails asking for advice for getting through a long run on a treadmill without dying of boredom.

Obviously using the treadmill isn’t ideal for your long runs, unless you’ll be completing your full or half marathon on a treadmill that is. However, often they are unavoidable. Whether it’s too dark, hot, wet, unsafe etc to run outside, it’s certainly better to get your long run done than skip it completely.

After a 12 hour flight, I arrived in Kuala Lumpur at 6pm and it was 10.30pm by the time I’d checked in, met the PRs, had a quick dinner with Evelyn and was ready to run. It was still 29 degrees, and completely dark- there was no way I was going to run outside. I was feeling incredibly jetlagged and full of energy, so getting my long run done was the perfect way to expend some of it.

long run on treadmill

Here are my top tips to getting through a ‘long’ run on the treadmill (for me that’s anything over 4 miles!)

· Listen to podcasts- current faves are This American Life, Jillian Michaels, Call your Girlfriend, and Undisclosed (a follow on style podcast after Serial!)

· Download an audio book from audible.com or itunes. I listened to Dan Brown’s Inferno while training for the Berlin Marathon and have recently finished listening to Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling.

· Split your run into bitesize sections- my 11 miles (17.7km) was split into 5K, 5K, 5K, 2.7K. After each section I would jump off the treadmill to refill my waterbottle, wipe my face or go to the loo. It made it feel manageable. If you’re feeling hardcore you could plank for a minute between each section.

· Appreciate the convenience whilst on the treadmill that you have water, snacks (don’t forget these if your running long) music, bathrooms etc on hand.

how to get through your long run on a treadmill

· Adjust the pace and incline every mile- I knew I had to run a 9 mile average, so I played up and down 0.1 every mile, making sure my final pace was on track. If pace doesn’t matter then alter it as much as you like as you run, playing with speed and incline will make the run feel less boring.

· At the Grand Hyatt in Kuala Lumpur they had fancy new Technogym treadmills that meant I could watch TV, play games like solitaire, and read blogs all on the treadmill itself. If your treadmill doesn’t have this functionality you could use your ipad or tablet to do the same.

how to get through a long run on a treadmill

· Download a film or series to your tablet/laptop to watch while you run.

· Get a friend, other half or family member to run on the treadmill next to you to catch up while you run.

What other tips do you have to getting through a long run on the treadmill? What’s the furthest you’ve ever run on one? Mine is definitely the 11 miles!

25 Comments

  1. 16th July 2015 / 7:02 am

    Some really good tips Charlie- I hadn’t thought about the scheduled breaks- I think that would really help with the mental battle of running long. I find podcasts great too- really help to take your mind off running. I switched to them after the TV screens at the gym always had bad signal and would freeze all the time and drive me mad!! I don’t often do long runs on the treadmill by any runs I do do on there I find easier with intervals or hills thrown in- it gives you the same challenge as running outside x

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:27 am

      It definitely helps get through it mentally! Agree speedwork/hills and intervals can be great on a treadmill!

  2. 16th July 2015 / 7:26 am

    When I last run long on the treadmill I found that I ached in places I’ve never ached after road running before. It must use different muscles, but would make me wary of running more than 8 miles in one go again! I couldn’t walk the following day!
    My gym has TVs on the front of all the bikes, so when I go to cross-train I often get caught up on my blog reading or TV series. Completely takes your mind off of the monotony of it!

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:26 am

      That’s really interesting, I do think I have a shorter stride on a treadmill which probably isn’t ideal!

  3. 16th July 2015 / 11:26 am

    Great selection of tips 🙂
    The furthest I’ve done was 10 miles and that was on super Saturday during the Olympics – it kept my mind occupied and every time the crowd cheered it mentally lifted me! I don’t even remember why I did it…So yes, I would advise watching things with people cheering!

    (Also, I would definitely fall off a treadmill if I was trying to play solitaire!!)

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:25 am

      it was more me jabbing at the screen with sweaty fingers! Sport is great for motivation while you’re running!

  4. 16th July 2015 / 1:14 pm

    I did 15 miles on a treadmill in a small gym in the Maldives, in about 1000 degrees of heat! I was on holiday but had to keep training for New York the next month. I had meant to go longer, but even with the TV on, my brain overrode my legs and hit that stop button.

    Great tips and I love those treadmills you described!

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:24 am

      WOW! Would love to go to the Maldives although can’t imagine there are many running trails! Bet the beach, water and all the food felt great after your run!

  5. 16th July 2015 / 8:54 pm

    Great tips! I’ve done quite a few long runs on the treadmill and I think my longest was 11 miles too. I love watching silly mindless tv while running (HGTV, Food Network, the Kardashians) and it helps me keep my mind off of running. I also give myself a walk break every 10 minutes for 30 seconds to a minute depending on if I need water/fuel or not. It’s not as bad as some people might think!

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:22 am

      Kardashians are a must when bored!I agree that it’s not too bad as long as you have things to distract you!

  6. 17th July 2015 / 1:07 am

    The furthest I ever did was 10 miles (because it was far too icy outside to run safely). I watched a movie on my iPad to pass the time. I also remember some shorter treadmill runs during some really bad snow, but it was around Christmas time so I could watch festive movies on the treadmills at my gym. In fact, I think I deliberately timed one run for when there would be something good on to watch!
    Listening to podcasts is a great idea too. I’ve been listening to podcasts on my long run for the last few months. A great change from my running playlist which I can save for shorter runs or races.

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:22 am

      Festive movies are the best or just singing along to Xmas music as you run!

  7. 17th July 2015 / 7:36 am

    These are great tips! I will check the Undisclosed podcast

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:21 am

      It’s definitely not as good as Serial, but still interesting!

  8. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes
    18th July 2015 / 7:47 am

    The longest treadmill run I’ve done is 20 miles. Yes…20 miles. I had no choice unfortunately, it was icy and extremely cold and I had the Paris Marathon coming up. I start binge watching Netflix. It is the ONLY thing that gets me through a long run on the treadmill! Great job getting 11 in!

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:13 am

      WOW that is seriously impressive. Netflix watching is so great, I need to download some new shows to my Ipad as my local gym’s treadmills are so old!

  9. 18th July 2015 / 11:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing these tips. I love that you include “appreciate the convenience” as one of them! Entertaining myself is usually important for getting through a less-than-ideal situation, but it’s great to be mindful of appreciating the benefits of treadmill running too!

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 9:12 am

      Exactly, sometimes it’s the only way a run can be done!

  10. 21st July 2015 / 5:15 pm

    Great tips! I was dying during a 5-mile treadmill workout this weekend, which is nothing compared to your 11-mile run. Question, if you pause your workout to run to the bathroom or do stretches or something, does the treadmill reset? Do you just make note of your mileage and start from there when you get back?

    • charlotte
      21st July 2015 / 5:18 pm

      Yes it does for me, I just try to finish at a nice round number that’s easy to remember!

  11. Adam Trainor
    21st July 2015 / 9:38 pm

    A post I have been looking for!! I have googled and googled how to enjoy a long run on a treadmill. Now I have tried some of your tips. The treadmill at my gym has a television built in so I will change channel find something good to watch to take my mind off the run, I will listen to my music, I will change the speed I am running at and I wıll adjust the incline but I am still becoming bored. Maybe I will try the idea of using my tablet/ipad during my run and watch a film. With a film you can go into a different zone and ignore whats going on!! Also I think bordem takes over and my brain is telling me to get off when I know my body can keep going.

    • charlotte
      23rd July 2015 / 11:10 am

      I agree with the boredom- so much of running is mental. If you believe you can keep going, then you usually can!

      • Adam Trainor
        23rd July 2015 / 9:22 pm

        Its definitely mind over body telling me to stop

  12. 25th July 2015 / 10:32 pm

    I still have no bloody idea how you did that!!!

  13. 4th February 2017 / 12:53 am

    On my part I listen to music while running on the treadmill. It gets me hyped. I really need to make my run longer. Than you for the advice.