How to Survive that Winter Torture Chamber: The Dreadmill

If stepping onto that dreadmill makes Chinese water torture look like aquatic massage therapy, it’s time to break your routine.

We know you’re cranky. You’re not a skier, and so you’re forced to exercise inside to keep your 26 inch waist. (Ok 30 but we won’t tell.) You’re tired of working out on the dreadmill at your gym. It’s boring. It’s time consuming, and you’d rather grab a pizza and go home.

Right now, mid-way through winter, the love-hate relationship you have with your dreadmill has turned strictly hate-hate. It takes every ounce of energy you have to walk through the front door of your workout facility, let alone get on the dreadmill. Everything about the place you once loved, now bugs you. Even that bubbly, little blond at the front desk is starting to annoy you. Why is she so happy all the time? Doesn’t she know you’re miserable?

It’s time.

You’re nowhere near done with winter, so you’re going to have to change it up a bit. Here are few suggestions on how to beat the dreadmill blues:

Switch to a Comparable Caloric WorkoutIMG_2609

Once a week, walk on by that dreadmill and hook up with a different machine. Here are the calories for some alternates. These workouts will burn approximately the same amount of calories as 30 minutes on the dreadmill (calories burned are listed by your weight):

115 lbs           130 lbs            155lbs       175lbs

265                  299                  357             403           32 minutes on Skiing machine       
256                  290                  345              390          42 minutes on Stationary bike       
264                  298                  355               401         55 minutes on Elliptical                 
Compared to:
261                  295                  352             398           30 minutes Running (10min pace)

See to calculate the calories for other substitute exercises.IMG_2598

And, no matter which of these machines you select, do what my hubby does; throw a towel over the control. You won’t be watching those minutes count down.

Meet Friends at the Mall and Walk

 One night a week, meet two or three friends at a local mall and walk. This is my favorite substitute. (It’s my hubby’s least favorite as it usually costs him some money afterwards.)

Shake on it and make it a standing date for, say, Wednesdays in February and March. Make a rule that if you are a no show, you must put $5 in the kitty. Purchase a bottle of good wine (or two) with kitty money that first week in April, meet at someone’s house for an outdoor walk and then enjoy that bottle out back on the patio afterwards. (Better make that May up North.)

Give Yourself Two Get-Out-of-Gym Free Passes

It isn’t going to kill you to take a scheduled day off. If you work out five times a week, give yourself two passes for February and two for March. Missing four, one-hour walks on the dreadmill will boost morale as long as you don’t feel guilty about it. And don’t.

Think of it this way: four hours x 260 calories (average per hour for walking) is only 1040 calories in the course of the year. It won’t faze you. Just make sure it’s not more than four, or you’ll be tempted to throw in the towel all together.

Vary Your Workout

If you are lucky enough to have a choice between two facilities (YMCAs have reciprocating membership), then pick one day a week to go to your second favorite facility. It will be a change of scenery. And make it an easy workout day. I am always refreshed when I step onto my B-rated gym’s dreadmill and think, “Ah today is a ten-minute pace day. Yippee!”

Or, vary the time of day you go. If you workout in the evening, try the morning. Get to the gym at 6AM and you are going to see a whole new world. It’s busy. Music is playing. People are watching the news, reading the paper. It’s yuppie city!

Then there is another favorite variance—do half your work out on the dreadmill and half on the track if your gym has one. There is only one rule of thumb regarding this:

Track to Tread

Breaking up your run/walk is a great idea. If you usually last 4 miles, do two on the track and then two on the treadmill. Listen to music on the track (make your own 20 minute arrangement) and watch TV on the treadmill (I time it for the Today Show or the 5PM news).

As long as you go track to tread, you’ll be fine. However, reverse it—and you’ll suffer jelly-legitis.

Really, you doubt me?

IMG_2596We’ve all laughed a good one at people who have fallen off the dreadmill. Maybe they were talking, playing with their phone, or nonchalantly trying to eye that hot guy.  We’ve split our sides when they rolled off the back onto the floor because secretly we are just glad it wasn’t us.

Fall off a dreadmill and your pride is only temporarily damaged (unless an ex-friend posts it on YouTube), but fall down on a rubber running track with nothing in your way and people come rushing at you with paddles.

Just chant track to tread, track to tread and never speak of the other.

Other Boredom Curtailers

My friend Carol once ran 24 miles on a dreadmill. Most of the other runners in our pack feel she must have taken a hard hit to the head when she was young. But Carol, and yet another running buddy, Robin, both say they’ve trained for marathons on the treadmill by watching TV shows and movies.

This I understand because I hate the stationary bike but love to read. I can literally last IMG_2597hours on the bike when I have a good book. I consciously withhold reading until I get there. I’ve had some great books help me through the winter months. There have actually been times when I was giddy trying to get to a bike to read.

If you, too, love movies and books, stay tuned. Athletchics polled their friends and came up with some pretty good books and movies to help us through the winter months. Look for our upcoming article on February Suicide Preventions: Gotta-see Movies and Can’t-put-down Books Lists.

Until then—carry on—spring is just around the corner.

_________________________________________________________________________ Cyndie Zahner is a free lance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @tweetyz or on Instagram as athletchicz.

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