How to make running on a treadmill more fun

These podcasts, guided runs and helpful tips will keep you from shedding a tear of boredom with every step.

Amanda Capritto
6 min read
Two happy women working out in gym on a treadmill

Turn "dreadmill" back into treadmill with these podcasts, apps, tips and tricks.

Westend61 / Getty Images

I love to run, but not on a treadmill. Running outdoors gives you a few minutes of sunshine and fresh air, is more conducive to a runner's high and, in my opinion, makes thoughts flow freely and easily. Running on a treadmill, however, often equates to avoiding sweat spray from the person on the machine two feet away and wondering how it's possible that you've only been moving for two minute when it feels like 20. 

The very appropriately nicknamed "dreadmill" has earned its bad rap through those unpleasant scenarios and more, but it's sometimes a necessary evil -- like when you want to stick to your new running plan but the weather won't permit you to run outside.

Fortunately, the noisy conveyor belt of doom doesn't have to be so, well, dooming. With the right podcast, app or shift in your workout style, your treadmill run will be over before you know it. You may even find yourself extending your run time to finish up your new favorite audiobook. 

Read more: How to pick the perfect running shoes for you | How to recover from long runs and sprints | 9 of the best running shoes for 2020

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Best running podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to pass the time while learning new, fun and interesting information. Many podcasts feature hosts and guests who have journalism or comedy backgrounds, so they're just the right mix of inquisitive and hilarious. These nine running podcasts offer a wealth of information on health, fitness and life. 

Runner's World Podcast

Listen if: You're really into the world of running and like to keep up with the news, people and extremes in running.

Example episode: The One With Anna McNuff. Runner's World interviews Anna McNuff, who plans to run 100 marathons across the country… barefoot.

Marathon Talk

Listen if: You're dedicated to making the most out of every run and want to gobble up all the running tips you can get (from World Champions and Olympians!).

Example episode: Episode 493 - Mark Gainey. Listen to the co-founder of Strava talk all things running and business.

Another Mother Runner

Listen if: You're a mom, or just really busy, and need some tips and motivation to fit running into your hectic schedule. 

Example episode: #374: How to Return to Running. The hosts talk to a running coach and mom about coming back to running after an injury. 

Read more: 5 signs you need to get new running shoes.

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Run Selfie Repeat

Listen if: You want to feel empowered by other women who have overcome hardships, running-related and otherwise. Host Kelly Roberts also does guided run podcasts.

Example episode: Ep. 144 - Don't Let "Realistic" Goals Stop You From Dreaming. Kelly Roberts explains that you can chase any goal, even if it seems incredible far-off. 

School of Greatness

Listen if: You ever feel sorry for yourself and want to stop. Host Lewis Howes had a rough childhood, but now he's a New York Times best-selling author, among other accolades. 

Example episode: Ep. 829: The Mind and Journey of a Champion Fighter. Howes interviews Mike Tyson on pushing past obstacles and becoming great.

Ali on the Run Show

Listen if: You want to hear about the impressive feats of professional runners, from those runners themselves. 

Example episode: Episode 159: Mirinda Carfrae, 3-Time Ironman World Champion. Carfrae talks about her journey to triumph as a triathlete, plus how she managed it all with a new baby and an injury.

300 Pounds and Running

Listen if: You need someone to make you believe that anything is possible. Host Martinus Evans talks candidly about running, life and how your brain is often the biggest barrier to success. 

Example episode: Episode 50: Pushing out of the Comfort Zone. Martinus and his co-host talk about pushing past the point of discomfort to experience improvement and the good kind of pride.

Running on Om

Listen if: You want peacefulness, reflection and restoration during your run. 

Example episode: ROO No. 218: Rebecca Pacheco on Staying Inspired and Practicing Presence. Pacheco, a yoga teacher, author and entrepreneur, discusses keeping clarity amidst a busy life.

Running Commentary

Listen if: You want a hilarious digital companion during your run. Hosts (and comedians) Paul Tonkinson and Rob Deering talk about life, comedy and running -- while running.

Example episode: Kate Carter, the Fastest Panda in the World. The hosts interview Carter, who once ran the London Marathon dressed as a panda.

Best guided run apps

Podcasts are great and all, but sometimes you need a little extra "oomph" to get you going, especially on a treadmill. Having a coach is a surefire way to add that oomph to your run -- I mean, someone's counting on you to finish that run and do the best you can. If you don't have an in-person coach who can stand by your treadmill, enlist one of these guided run apps for a digital coach. 


Guided running apps and streaming workouts, like Peloton Digital, can make your treadmill run more fun. 

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Story Running by Runtastic

Download if: You like well-thought-out stories that allow you to create detailed visuals in your head.

Example run: "Moments of Bliss." A professional runner takes you through his memory of a beautiful run in Austria, pointing out all of the moments he felt pure bliss. 

Nike+ Run Club

Download if: You want what seems like thousands of runs to choose from, and coaches who can empathize with the way you're feeling, like on the "Don't Want to Run Run."

Example run: "First Treadmill Run." Nike Running Global Head Coach Chris Bennett takes you through a 24-minute guided run specifically for a treadmill. 


Download if: You want a coach who will really push you to your limits, plus upbeat music and the feel of a high-energy studio class.

Example run: Start your free trial to see some of the class titles. 


Download if: You want motivating coaches and a live leaderboard that allows you to see your progress alongside other members' from all over the world. 

Example run: Start your free trial to browse classes. 

Bonus: Audible

This isn't a guided running app, but an audiobook app. If you're a literary nerd or just love a good story, Audible can take you through a run faster than any digital coach could. Audible is especially great for long runs on the treadmill, because you can totally zone out of the real world and into a mythical one.

Read more: Audible offers free beginners' workout programs to subscribers 

Other ways to make your 'mill run more interesting

If podcasts or streaming apps aren't your jam -- maybe you just really don't like someone talking in your ear, or you're a music-only type of runner -- you can try these other fun ways to beat boredom. 

Spice it up with intervals: If you already think running is boring, then chugging along at the same pace for 30 minutes will make it much worse. Instead of a steady-state running workout, try adding intervals -- for example, run one minute fast and one minute slow. Not only do intervals make treadmill time go by faster, they're a fantastic way to increase your cardiovascular capacity

Exhausted mid adult man running uphill on gym treadmill

Mix up your treadmill routine with intervals and changing the incline.

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Make a mental checklist about form: Maybe you don't want to think about running while you're running, but making yourself aware of your form can be a great way to both pass the time and make yourself a better runner. 

Mentally take note of your neck, shoulders, core, arms and legs. Is your head held high or are you looking at the ground? Stop scrunching up your shoulders. Keep your belly tight. Are your arms moving in sync with your stride? How is your stride, by the way? Take long, powerful steps instead of doing a shuffle. 

Cover up the monitor: You know the old adage -- a watched clock never turns. Or something like that. It can definitely feel that way when you stare at the clock on a treadmill monitor, so do yourself a favor and just cover it up. Set a time goal at the beginning of the workout and don't look until the treadmill stops. 

Stop running: Yep. Stop running, but don't stop moving. Try spicing up your treadmill workout with intervals of incline walking, high knees, butt kicks, side steps and even skipping. Sprinkling other forms of movement throughout your run can make it much more fun.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.