5 treadmill hacks for crushing your next indoor run

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As temperatures start to drop, you might be shifting your workouts from outdoors to in (hey, even Beyoncé recognizes the practicality of the treadmill). But just because your days of running al fresco are over doesn’t mean the classic piece of gym equipment is your enemy. Just ask Jennifer Rowland.

Earlier this year, the co-founder of Seattle dance cardio-slash-strength training studio Vibe Body jumped on the treadmill for a run. But instead of stopping at the usual point, she kept going. And going. And 26.2 miles later, she finally finished. Yep, she ran a marathon on a treadmill. (And then, because it is 2016, shared the news on social media.)

“It was a crazy moment,” the trainer and nutritionist admits. “I just decided to get out of my own way and run until my body physically told me to stop running.”

While you don’t have to commit to a full marathon, you can up your indoor running game and view the treadmill as more friend than foe. Rowland, along with Debora Warner, founder and program director of Mile High Run Club (the New York City workout destination for runners), shared with me an arsenal of tips to help push through to the very end—when all you have to stare at are your stats and the wall in front of you.

Keep reading for five tips for crushing your next indoor run.

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1. Plan your playlist accordingly

Rowland’s playlist wasn’t on shuffle for those 26.2 miles—it was carefully curated. “I sprinkle my favorite anthems or songs in every 10 minutes—it’s like a little reward!” she says, adding that she even goes as far as saving her favorites for her runs, refraining from listening them on her commute or any other not-quite-as-necessary time. Warner, too, is a big believer in the power of the playlist, creating a new one prior to each workout. “I use it as a time to experiment or discover new music,” she says. Rocking your run? Check.

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2. Recreate your favorite outdoor routes

When it’s raining or too cold to run outside, Warner likes to map out a beloved running route, like the Central Park loop. “You can say, ‘Oh, here’s the Harlem hill coming up, so I’m going to spend two minutes on a steep incline and simulate the race course,'” she suggests. It’s also a good way to try out areas you don’t have the chance to run IRL, like Hyde Park in London, or the hills in San Francisco. One way to do it? Use Map My Run to discover popular running routes in other cities and follow terrain and incline changes.   

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3. Customize your run

If simulating a course isn’t your thing, Warner says you can create your own loops and repeats. “That’s what I love about the treadmill—you have creative control,” she explains. One example: running a quarter-mile three times, slightly increasing the speed and incline each time, then giving yourself two minutes to recover. Rowland even worked intervals into her marathon-long treadmill session. “I did two minutes at my race pace, and then two miles at a slower jog, alternating back and forth,” she says. Unlike outside, where you can’t control the variables, you 100 percent can when running inside.

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4. Check in with your body

Your spine may be straight and your form on point at the beginning of your workout, but when you start getting tired, chances are, your shoulders begin to slump and things get a little sloppy. Intermittently checking in with your body not only keeps your running game strong, but it’s a nice distraction from the miles that are still ahead. “I do a scan from head to toe, relaxing my shoulders, fixing my stride, activating my core, and making sure everything feels okay,” Rowland says. “It gives you something to think about other than still having 20 minutes left.”

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5. Remember why you’re doing it

Every runner hits a wall sometimes. Rowland says she definitely thought she had reached a breaking point multiple times when she was running her treadmill marathon. But she pushed through with a little trick she learned at SoulCycle: “I always dedicate my workouts to someone I love, which in my case is my niece,” she says. “I’d never quit on my niece! So I kept going.”

For Warner, too, visualization is crucial. “It’s the perfect time to focus on your goals, long- and short-term.” That might be physical—like training for a race—personal, or even career-oriented. Either way, long runs are your time to think about what you want to accomplish—cherish it.

If you’re a runner, you should be cross-training, too. And here are ways you can go faster, longer, and harder—sans jogging.

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