Singin’ the Treadmill Blues

Before I get started, a bit of lawyerspeak…the term “treadmill” also refers to elliptical, stationary bike, arc trainer, or whatever your cardio machine of choice is.

This blog is for those of you that have a difficult time feeling warm and fuzzy about your cardio machine experience. Or, perhaps because of overwhelming feelings of dread, the experience never even happens.

I am hoping in these next few paragraphs to give you some sort of mantra other than:

  • “I know this is going to be torture”, or
  • “I hate this…how soon can I get off”, or
  • “This is so boring!”

Those kinds of thoughts mean that you are going to have to rally a huge amount of willpower, and chances are this isn’t going to happen very often.

The point: You are not suddenly going to be able to change your mind about liking the experience unless you take a few minutes to implement some strategies that change the experience for you. Once achieved, you can stop feeling guilty and stressed out about this, and you are on your way to the stress reduction benefit that exercise can bring.

  1. Where is it? If you have a treadmill in your home or apartment, take a look at the environment it is in. Is it stuck in the basement? Is there a window close by at all? Has it been shoved into an area as an afterthought, where you don’t want to put anything else? The change: Think of yourself first! What would feel good to you? See if you can rearrange a few things to make this a better environment for you and your treadmill.
  2. At the gym, there are often rows of machines placed for the convenience of the gym layout, and ambience is not a priority. You can’t do much about that, obviously. But you can fight back! There’s usually a TV to watch. If at all possible, find something that you are actually interested in watching. Don’t torture yourself with drivel. Bring your headphones so you can listen without other gym noises going on.
  3. At home or at the gym, you can listen to your favorite music or a recorded book. There’s the MP3, iTunes on your phone, and even a disc-man if you still have one. Personal note…when I do cardio at home, I use a small CD player system. I look forward to playing music I don’t get a chance to listen to otherwise. I try to pick things that match my mood sometimes. I treat myself to CD’s that I have gotten from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame store.
  4. If you don’t want to use music or TV, you can select a topic to ruminate on while you are treading – something that is in need of a solution or different point of view. See this as “me time.” It’s a chance to let your mind wander over various things going on in your life. Often solutions come along that you never suspected were there.
  5. Want to get away from your thoughts? This can be extremely beneficial for your exercise progress. What we have here is something that gets you directly in touch with how your body is doing. It can have the effect of helping you to stay with the experience longer and more happily. Stay with me here. If you are flagging, you can ask yourself two things: Did I ramp up too fast? Or, can I pull back just a bit but keep going? Make the adjustment and congratulate yourself for listening to your body.
  6. You can also pay attention to your breathing. Often we don’t do this, and it can lead to feelings of being more pooped than you really are. Concentrate on regular breathing to the cadence of your stride. Breathe in for 2, out for 2 or 3. Keep it relaxed. Just get into a rhythm that feels comfortable and sustainable. Hang out with it. This can really help.
  7. One other tactic that often works is to get off the machine after 5-7 minutes, take a walk about for a few minutes, and then get back on. Very often you feel much better about carrying on than if you had just stayed on and tried to slog it out.

Again, the point is that with a little bit of preparation know-how and mindset, you can start to transform this experience so that it works for you and your goals.

© 2016-2020 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.

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