Running is all about counting. Counting the minutes—the seconds—until you can stop. At least that’s how I’ve always seen this particular form of exercise. Put me on an indoor bike, on a rowing machine, in a dance studio—literally any other form of cardio—and I’m all about it. But, for whatever reason, the minutes (and the miles) just go slower on a treadmill. My theory is this that on other cardio machines, the time monitor is directly in your eye line, you don’t have to break form to view your progress. Same is true of classes—the time is either streaming on the screen in front of you or on the clock on the wall. But when you’ve really hit your stride on the treadmill, glancing down for a time check can really throw you off. And when your time or distance check is even the slightest bit behind where you expect and hope it will be, it’s a total momentum killer. I’ve learned that when I’m on the treadmill, 20 seconds feels a lot like 60 seconds to me. It’s unfortunate. Keep reading to find out how I learned to actually enjoy running!
The other benefit to fitness classes is that instructors do all the counting for you. They call out precisely when to start, stop, and give it a little extra push. So, instead of looking down at the numbers on the screen and seeing I’m only a third of the way through the interval I thought I was rounding the finish line on, an encouraging voice over the loud speaker tells me to keep going.
It follows then that a treadmill class makes for a more enjoyable run and a better workout, right? The logic makes sense, but as a thoroughly running-averse individual, I was still skeptical. Skeptical but curious, so I tried it.
I happened to show up on sprint day at my local gym (lucky me), and the instructor was no joke. We got started right away. He wanted everyone at an “easy jogging pace” of 6.5 to 7. His idea of an “easy jogging pace” was my full-out run. So, I scaled back my number a little bit. As he was walking around, I was scared he was going to come up to my machine and start pressing the up arrow until I was jogging on pace with his directive. I was relieved to find out that unlike Spin instructors who will crank that resistance knob up until you can’t move your legs, treadmill class instructors were much more open to you going at your own pace. He left my treadmill alone, and as I was looking up and down the rows, I noticed we were all running at different speeds. I was feeling much more comfortable. And then the first sprint started. Again, I took it easier than instructed, considering it was the first of a 30-minute class. And then a miraculous thing happened: I heard “10, nine, eight…” The instructor had started counting down the last 10 seconds before I’d even started worrying about how much time I had left. In fact, the only time I looked down at my monitor was during recovery periods, to see how far I’d run.
Dare I say it, but I was actually enjoying running. The 30 minutes flew by, seriously. I could have done another 30. (Okay, more like another 10… or five.) Anyway, the other notable difference between this treadmill workout and my typical routine was how much I pushed myself. I ran faster than I ever had before. At one point, I went over 8. Like I said, I am not a runner, so that was pretty huge for me. It felt great. And I can honestly I never would have attempted a speed that high on my own. Now when I’m doing my own treadmill workout, I do strive for an 8. It’s motivated me to attempt more running workouts on my own, though I do prefer treadmill stints in a group setting now. And when I can’t make to a treadmill class, I use the app PulseTread (free and up), which delivers a new 30-minute cardio routine to my phone each day. I’ve also heard good things about FitTrip (free and up), which creates workouts designed to be used with any cardio machine.
Do you have any running secrets? Share them below!