My Ongoing Relationship with the Treadmill

Let’s look back at my past relationship with the treadmill.

College: 15-20 minutes on the treadmill was my workout for the day. Check. Done. Moving on.

Post-college:I joined a gym and ran on the treadmill in the morning before work. Didn’t love or hate it, but felt accomplished when I was done. Check. Done. Moving On.

Just married and living in our first house: Patrick and I received a treadmill from my parents for Christmas. Although Patrick was much better at using it in our basement, I got on here and there for a 2-3 mile run. Check. Done. Moving On.

Eventually we actually gave the treadmill back to my parents, because my dad had started running, and we hardly used it anymore. When I was no longer forcing myself to run on the treadmill during the cold months, I enjoyed running outside during the warm months. For those of you who run outside in the snow and cold, good for you! It was during this time I began to find a true joy in running. I started to do official races.  As I progressed from a 5k (which made me physically ill) to half marathons and a marathon, I really enjoyed the challenge and the running.

New house: Moving to our new house gave me access to our neighborhood gym, which is a two-minute walk from out house. No excuses. This is actually the same gym I joined post-college. I now use the treadmills for a type of running workout I wouldn’t normally do outside. The new approach to treadmills has made all the difference.

Here is the view from the treadmill during the warmer months at our neighborhood gym.

When I run outside it usually is 4-8 miles of a (semi) consistent pace, enjoying the view, listening to music/podcasts or talking with whomever is with me. In the past, I would try to accomplish this same thing on the treadmill, and it never worked. There was a constant struggle to finding joy while working out on the treadmill.

Now, when I get on the treadmill I have no real plan or agenda.  Instead I use the treadmill program to help me with sprints and switch up the speed. I don’t do this kind of running outside. Adding elevation is no joke. It becomes a game to me. The first thing I do when I hop on the treadmill is get my music play list ready (which has become key for a purposeful treadmill workout) and get going. My speed depends on the beat of the song and how fast the music is going.

Here is the view from the treadmill during the colder months at our neighborhood gym.

This is an example treadmill workout based on the beat of the music.

(minutes – speed on the treadmill)

start-1:00 minutes – 5.0 speed

1:00-1:45 – 6.0 speed

1:45-2:15 – 7.5 speed

2:15-2:45 – 7.0 speed

2:45-3:05 – 8.5 speed

3:05-3:30 – 7.5 speed

as a song ends, between songs, and as a new song starts up – 6.0 speed

The time and speed is different for every song. Just follow the beat and listen to your body’s needs. Don’t overthink it; just have fun.

After doing this style of running workout on the treadmill over the past few months, I have come to learn that even with the same music playlist each time (feel free to ‘shuffle’ the songs to switch it up), the workout can be different, based on how my body is feeling. With no specific time or mileage in mind, I do my best to listen to my body’s needs. I push harder at times, slower at times, and finish my workout when I feel accomplished. Part of doing this type of workout is being aware of my body and how it feels. I only do it because it feels great. I am motivated by the music, and I know I can stop at any time. Although I never set a goal for myself of going a certain distance or for a certain amount of time, I typically run between 25-40 minutes with this workout. In the past, you would have had to pay me to run more than 30 minutes on the treadmill.

At this point in my life (and in my relationship with the treadmill) I will keep this workout going. It’s fun for me, and it’s not something I have to do. It’s something I GET to do. After each workout, I am thankful my body is able to run and push itself to this level.

Motivating playlists can make all the difference on the treadmill.

When it comes to music, Patrick takes care of the playlists. I often receive compliments on the playlists I use at the workout classes I teach, and always make sure to give him credit. Here is what I am listening to right now. This list is great for the treadmill workouts I have been doing.


I am always looking for new workout songs. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share in the comments.

If you are looking to find joy while using the treadmill, I encourage you to have the mentality of ‘less is more.’ Not less work, but less of a plan. Rather than giving yourself a certain amount of time or mileage to do each time you hop on the treadmill, go in with less of a plan and let your body (and the music!) push you through a workout. Instead of counting down to the end of the workout (which is what I used to do on the treadmill), be thankful that your body is allowing you to do this. Feel the endorphins being created and celebrate your accomplishments, even if you only go 5 minutes the first time. You can do it.

Tell me: Do you have a favorite workout you love doing and helps you feel great? Share in the comments!

2 thoughts on “My Ongoing Relationship with the Treadmill

  1. Thanks for the excellent discussion on your experience with Treadmill. For me, using a treadmill is a must as I need to do winter running to prepare for my annual 1/2 marathon. And I’m not an outside winter runner.

    A treadmill can be pretty boring and I often call it torture, but I have recently changed things up and I like what I do now. Previously I would run for say 30 minutes at constant speed. Now I do what is called HIIT, or High Intensity Impact Training three times a week. So my training consisted of periods of walking, slower speed, medium speed and intense running. For short periods of time, it gets the heart pumping pretty hard. My running plan looks like this:

    Time Speed Phase
    0:00 3.0 Warmup
    3:00 5.0 Phase I
    6:00 6.0
    7:00 5.5
    10:00 7.0
    10:30 5.5
    13:30 7.0
    14:00 3.0 Recover
    15:00 7.0 Phase II
    15:30 5.5
    18:30 7.0
    19:00 5.5
    22:00 8.0
    22:30 3.0 Recover
    23:30 5.0 Phase III
    26:30 8.0
    27:00 5.0
    30:00 8.0
    30:30 2.0 Recover
    32:00 7.0 Phase IV
    32:30 5.0
    35:30 7.0
    36:00 5.0
    39:00 6.0
    40:00 5.0
    43:00 3.0 Recover
    45:00 Stop

    I have it set up so I can run just one phase for about 14 minutes. Or, up to four phases for about 45 minutes depending on what my training schedule looks like. And as you can see the speed will vary from 2 mph to 8 mph which includes both short sprints and periods of recovery. For me, it is more structured, but I also allow for changes depending on what my body is telling me. Sometimes I will run less than plan. Other times more than plan.

    I will turn 65 years old this year and I am planning to keep running 1/2 marathons until I’m at least 80. I am a lot more motivated to run treadmill on this high intensity program than before. I guess we each have to find what works for us.

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