Fitness Mindset

Why Running On A Treadmill Can Feel Like Forever

Reviewed by: Tim Pittorino, BHSC

So you’ve finally psyched yourself up to go for a run on the treadmill, but 5 minutes in and you find yourself watching the clock like a hawk. Sound familiar? Truth is, running on a treadmill is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.

The Density of Experience


OK, so every minute has 60 seconds, everyday has 24 hours, right? But what about those experiences that seem to fly by whilst others take what seems like a life time (hello microwave minute!)

This is known as ‘The density of experience’. Basically, what causes certain periods of time feel longer or shorter is related to how much information you are collecting during that time.

For example, your daily routine probably feels like it flies by – and that’s because you’re probably not paying a lot of attention to it.

Contrastingly, we collect the most information when we are intensely focussing on something – ie new experiences or new sensations. When we pay that much more attention to something, the results feel that much longer, like learning a new language or watching grass grow. Now when you’re running on a treadmill, and you don’t have the outdoors to distract you, you’ll start focussing on everything from time; to how out of breath you are; to how sore your legs are.


All In The Mind


Whilst this is a mental challenge. There are many who believe that running on a treadmill is actually far more difficult on the body than running outside.

For one, your stride length is challenged, where you alter your running gait to keep up with the pace of the treadmill, rather than adjust it to the natural space when you’re running outside. Additionally, the way the treadmill propels you forward means you end up using your hamstrings less, with your quads pulling most of the load. If you’re shortening or lengthening your stride on the treadmill you may end up feeling like you’re working harder to keep the same pace as outside.


Tips To Make Treadmill Running Easier


  • Don’t check your watch – set an alert to go off when you’ve run the length of time you set out to achieve
  • Put a towel over the clock on the treadmill
  • Have a banger playlist to listen to
  • Download a podcast or audiobook to keep your mind active
  • Download your favourite Netflix show and watch that – these will keep your mind active but distracted from the running




Fun Run


Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to make your exercise work for you. The exercise you keep doing is one that fits into your life and one you enjoy. Running is an amazing form of cardio – it’s free, can be done anywhere, anytime – and those post runs endorphins are incomparable!


If you find even with the tips above you still find running on the treadmill to be a real pain, try running outside – the fresh air and natural surroundings will bring something new to your cardio session. Also try joining one of our running programs to help you get into the right headspace and build up to where you’d like to be.

Also Read: 5 Tips You Need To Know Before You Start Running

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