Think about running on a treadmill… Are you filled with warm thoughts about competing against yourself or catching up on a show as you jog? Or does your blood run cold as you imagine time slowing down and your run beginning to feel like a self-inflicted punishment?

When it comes to running on a treadmill, it’s very rare that someone thinks it’s just ‘okay’ – the response is usually that people either love it or hate it! But with the weather getting colder and the sun setting earlier, for many people there is only one option: to get on the treadmill or risk freezing outside.

In northern climates, the winter months are known for making us gain pounds, so here are a few tips to help you enjoy your treadmill routine and prevent you from stopping running until the spring.

1. Vary your terrain by adjusting the gradient

If you are using a newer treadmill where you can adjust the gradient, have fun creating a challenging outdoor trail run.

From steep mountains to gentle hills, it’s easy to break up the monotony of a flat course by pressing the incline button. I love hill running and enjoy the challenge of increasing the gradient every 60 seconds. An added bonus about being in control of the gradient is that if the hill feels too steep, just take it down a bit. You can’t do that when you’re running outside!

2. Plan your music in advance

Music is known for being a great motivator, especially when it comes to exercising and sports performance. The joy of modern technology is that you can create entire playlists of all of your favorite songs. Spend time going through your music collection and pick out songs that make you smile. Finding a song you love can be perfect motivation to turn up the speed and run a little faster.

3. Interval training to avoid boredom

This is really a matter of preference but interval training has so many added benefits because, not only does it stop you from getting bored, it can help you to push yourself to burn more calories in less time. A great way to interval train is to run at a 7/10 difficulty level for 45 seconds then walk or jog at a 3/10 difficulty for 30 seconds. Training in this way for 30- 45 minutes can improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

4. Enjoy the functions

If you want to do a steady state run without adjusting gradient and speed, then take your mind off your run by playing with the treadmill functions.

Many newer treadmills are equipped with heart rate monitors and calorie burn counters so set yourself mini challenges with these! Try and keep your heart rate within your target range and guess how many calories you will burn every two minutes. Or you can pick one of the pre-designed running plans and let your mind puzzle over one of the challenges in your life. It’s better to think through a problem while running than when you’re trying to sleep.

5. Break up your run

Set a few goals before you start your run and don’t be afraid of breaking it up into manageable chunks.

Don’t just get on the treadmill without a goal because chances are you will step off sooner if you don’t have a plan. If your goal is to run five miles but you get bored after two miles, then make a conscious choice to take a break. That way you can keep your commitment to do all five miles – just break up your run and refocus along the way. For example, get off the treadmill and do some light resistance exercises or abdominal crunches, then get back on. The important thing is that you do get back on the treadmill.

Many gyms also offer classes led by an instructor that incorporate both running and weight training. The group atmosphere is fun and can help motivate you.

6. Stay on track

The benefit of training on a treadmill is that you can easily monitor your distance and time without the variables of rough terrain and changeable weather slowing you down. Remember – only ever go at a pace that feels right for you. It’s tempting to push yourself too hard if the person next to you is running very fast, but you can cause yourself damage if you push yourself too quickly. It’s always better to be cautious and stay injury free.