Tuesday, January 9, 2018

5 Tips for Surviving the Treadmill

Disclaimer: This is an update of a post from 2015. 

Here we are, once again, with another polar vortex or whatever you want to call it. The east coasters have their bomb cyclone. Even the Floridians are cold! Mother Nature seems to be angry. I live in Chicago, but it's been colder here than Antarctica. The winter weather has been hard, except for Californians, although they've had wildfires and smoke to contend with. Running outside has been a challenge for everyone!

For most of us suffering in the cold, moving to a warmer clime, while attractive, is not a viable option.

If you've been following me at all,  you know how much I despise running on my treadmill. I'll run outdoors in extreme conditions just to avoid running on my treadmill. The cold doesn't bother me much when I'm dressed appropriately. But during the winter, unpredictable conditions make outdoor running a challenge. Wiping out on black ice is never fun.

There have to be pretty extreme weather conditions for me to take it to my 20 year old treadmill, and so far this winter, I've only had to use it once. Yes, it was a slog. But I survived and came up with a few suggestions about how to push through a run on the dreadmill.


Distraction comes in many forms.
I like to jam to my favorite tunes when I run. I wear my Spibelt, tuck my phone in, just like I do on the road, and crank the tunes. Sometimes I even sing along. Seriously. I know there are those of you out there who watch Netflix or even read books. Distraction comes in many forms, and distraction definitely lessens the pain of running on the treadmill. Just don't do it to the point that you are zoning out and losing focus on your workout. Not only will you risk not getting the max out of your workout, you can also get distracted to the point of injury (falling of the treadmill or missing your body's cues).


Visualize yourself running outside.
Maybe you have one of those cool virtual reality treadmills where you can "run" in some beautiful place. I don't. I have a view of my neighbor's house from the window in front of my treadmill. So I listen to music and visualize a race or a run in another place. What's really interesting about music is that it has been shown to provoke memories. So when I hear songs that have propelled me to a great run or across a finish line, I can relive those same feelings on the mill. I just have to lose myself in the music. Mind over matter. If nothing else works, a reminder of the outdoor conditions you are avoiding might work too. That view out the window as I run inside slaps me into reality every time.


Do intervals or speedwork. Or dance.
There is nothing better to help a runner pass the time than running fast for a set period of time, taking a break, and doing it again. Counting down the miles, the minutes, whatever you want to do, really really helps. Trust me on this.


Dress lightly and have a fan blowing on you.
You get to wear your summer running clothes! Hallelujah! Unless you are doing heat training. Yes, it's a thing we winter runners must do to prepare for races in warm places. Yes, it's as awful as you might imagine. No fan and heavy clothing. But it works.


Mind over matter.
Pull out all the mantras. Tell yourself you can do this. Again. And again. We say this for so many things, but treadmill running is so boring, that you need to remind yourself that all this treadmill time is going to make you mentally tough. I'll admit that 1 hour on the 'mill is my limit. Anything longer than that, I have to take it outside. My longest treadmill run was an 11 miler when I was training for a January half marathon. You can guess where I took my next long run. I was back outside in the sub-zero conditions. Guess I'm not tough enough for the treadmill.



Tell the truth--treadmill--love it or hate it? What do you do to push through a treadmill run? I have to remember that there are runners who actually like training on the treadmill! What is your longest treadmill run?

I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patti for Tuesdays on the Run as well as Debbie, Rachel, and Lora for Running Coaches' Corner.






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102 comments :

  1. Ive done one half marathon and all all training watching movies on the DREADMILL :-)

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  2. Just started treadmill running last week for marathon training week 6. Its unsafe due to no roads or visibility left for me to run outside at night. This will be my second training week with midweek mill runs. I'm going to take your advice. Thanks!!!! #CrazyMamaRunner

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    1. This is one of the reasons I don't do a spring marathon...the weather is so unpredictable, and I couldn't do those long runs on the mill.

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  3. Great tips! I usually get bored running on the treadmill so maybe I'll have to try visualizing running outside:) For me its all about staying distracted. For the first coupe of miles I can't help but think about how slowly the time is passing!

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  4. This mill, like anything else, once you just buckle down and DO it, isn't so bad.

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  5. I watch TV and movies on the treadmill. It really isn't so bad but 9 miles is about my limit.

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  6. I like that you did heat training. I never thought to do something like that!
    The treadmill is about to be my BFF this week, but really I don't mind it. I just zone out and listen to my music. Much more comfortable to me than forcing a sub-zero run outside! These are great tips!

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    1. I had an experienced marathoner tell me to do heat training. I won't get to test it out this spring, tho!

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  7. I think I must be the ONE person who runs so differently on the treadmill than I do outside that it doesn't even feel like the same activity. It also bothers my Achilles tendon. For those reasons (and I was tired of dusting it), I recently sold it. I had mixed emotions about it. And I think I may actually miss the darn thing later this week when the temps will be in the teens (that's cold for me!!).

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    1. I used to run differently and had issues with injuries and stuff, but seems like I've gotten in a groove the last couple of years.

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  8. I've only really started using the treadmill on a regular basis this winter. The one nice thing I've noticed about treadmill running is that it makes it easier to run a nice and even slow pace. I can simply plug in the requisite MPH and just space out. When I'm outdoors my pace is all over the place, and it's usually too fast!

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    1. That's true! But if you're training for a race, it's hard to train your mind for a certain pace when you're on autopilot!

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    2. I totally agree with Holly. I hate it and not just because it is boring (and it is) but it's not the same.

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  9. I like watching TV on the treadmill. It really passes the time. -L

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  10. LOL I just posted that pic on my page last night. I loath the treadmill, but have been tackling it all winter as I am too wimpy to go outside like all of my awesome running friends. I have tried every trick in the book and nothing makes the treadmill fun or bearable for me, but I do it anyhow, LOL.

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  11. I just got a TNF Thermoball parka for the winter this year and I am loving it! I'm amazed at how warm it keeps you for how light it is. I'm a big fan of doing intervals on the treadmill. Keeps things interesting so I don't get too bored!

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    1. How cold do you go before you break out the thermoball?

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  12. It's so funny that we are total polar opposites on this one :)

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    1. Well, we couldn't have everything in common, right? ;p

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  13. Music makes me run too :) I always do some intervals on the treadmill, it keeps my mind busy. I haven't been out in the cold much this year since I am injured, I am sure it will be a little rough at first but I always prefer cold rather than too hot.

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  14. Wendy, I am on my third straight day of treadmill runs and let me tell you...I am ready to get outside! Sheesh! We have ice everywhere, no snow for traction, so it's been tough; things should melt off, for the most part, today and I'll at least be able to drive to the track tomorrow for my speedwork. Good golly. I'm with you; I know these are first world problems and I am definitely thankful that I have access to a treadmill but I'm ready to be off of that thing - ha! An hour yesterday and today?!? I'm done.

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    1. I'd rather have snow than ice, for sure! But everyone is getting cabin fever--winter has to come to an end soon!

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  15. I don't have a treadmill but I do have an elliptical and a rowing machine and I find when I have to use them that watching Netflix makes the time fly by much faster than anything else. and having kids fighting makes the time go slower.

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  16. Sharon Couto - SeeGrandmaRunFebruary 18, 2015 at 1:04 PM

    I haven't run on a treadmill in years - maybe 5 years - but this Northeast winter had me miss 2 runs last week. (I really dislike going to my Y to find every treadmill in use with a long waiting list.) SO this past Sunday, my husband and I headed to our detached garage, opened the big box that had been sitting in there for months, and assembled the treadmill. I used it yesterday - 3 miles, and today - 5 miles. I LOVE running outside, but I cannot complain about the treadmill because I wouldn't have run otherwise. My husband set up a television, so that passes the time mindlessly. Our garage is kind of big and filled with stuff from our move 3 years ago... so I run and look and plan how to get rid of all our stuff and then create a nice space for my family (including 11 grandkids). We've got a "summer kitchen" that needs updating, Christmas and other holiday storage that needs to be organized, summer and grandkids sports stuff that needs easy access. Hmmmmm, I have a LOT to think about and it made today's 5 go rather quickly. Getting used to treadmill running will take some time, but it's that or a big fat 0 miles. I will not complain, and even named my treadmill -TreadMillicent. She will become a very good friend, I'm thinking. Loved reading the other responses!

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    1. Way to make it a positive experience! And spring will come...

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  17. Visualizing myself outside that is a new one! I do avoid it when ever possible but watching a movie helps or watching Scandal!

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    1. My music takes me to places I've had great runs. Helps a ton!

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  18. Thanks for sharing your treadmill tips! I live in upstate NY and have been forced to start my marathon training on a treadmill. I have always hated the treadmill and have never run more than 4 miles on it. I just discovered the Cardio Cinema at my gym and on Saturday I successfully ran 6 miles on the treadmill while watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I'd still much rather be outside and hope to be again very soon, but Ferris sure helped me on Saturday!

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  19. Well, this summer when I'm running outside in the Florida heat and humidity I'll be thinking of how Northern runners have to do "heat training"! I'd never heard of that, but it does make sense, especially with winter and spring races in Florida if you don't live here! I really need to learn to tolerate the treadmill! Thanks for linking up with us!

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  20. I always end up doing speedwork, even though it may not technically be 'intervals' day. I'm glad I'm not the only one! I have to run a half tomorrow in my marathon training and I really can't do 10 degrees...last week I did 30 degrees no problem, but 10!?! EEK!!!!

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  21. I'm thankful for my treadmill this winter but loathe it all at the same time. I honestly don't know how I get through all the miles on it. I just did a 10 miler this morning and I can't remember half of it. Maybe I fell asleep but was still controlling the speed and incline? Sleep running is the new fad.

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    1. Haha! Sounds like a good run, if you just zoned out like that!

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  22. I am with you! I hate the treadmill! I know for a lot of my northern blogging friends this is a must! I walked one day last week and was ready to throw myself off after 15 minutes! Thank goodness my Serial podcast went for 43 minutes!

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    1. Everyone is talking about Serial. I may have to check it out.

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  23. omg the last meme (micro vs treadmill minute) is so. on. point. Particularly in the morning.

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  24. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. buy family survival course

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  25. I normally add a little dance session when I feel myself getting bored on the treadmill lol

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    1. Ha! That's my kind of treadmill workout!

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  26. I have mixed feelings about the treadmill lately. While its a nice option to have, it gets boring very quickly. Since I don't listen to music outside, using it on the treadmill helps to keep me distracted.

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    1. It's definitely a change of pace (pun intended!)

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  27. Well, you know how I feel about 'Milly. Actually, I don't mind doing intervals on the treadmill, because they're fast and furious, but anything else is just too repetitive (and I know my body doesn't like that...or my mind!). I think I might have done 6 miles...ONCE...and I've never been able to go longer.

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    1. We are of one mind when it comes to the treadmill!

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  28. I made it for two minutes a few weeks ago LOL. I have screws in my shoes so nothing can prevent me from running outside. I think we are going to sell our treadmill . . .

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    1. I don't think anyone would buy mine...it's dying a slow death of loneliness.

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  29. I don't mind the treadmill at all. I do intervals for my run/walk, and I get fun music to go with it.

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  30. I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill. I love it because it lets me get in the workouts when I cant go outdoors but I hate it bc its boring. I break up the monotony by doing workouts conducive to change. such as laddres, incline intervals, fartleks,etc.... the longest run ive done on the TM is only 12...

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  31. I actually don't completely hate the treadmill most days! I like the idea of not having to worry about my surroundings like I do on a trail outside! I also really love the idea of being able to blast my music and not worry about cars zooming by either! So, I'll take the treadmill more often than some probably! But, it does indeed get boring after so long! I love to put together fun playlists to jam out to and keep the run interesting with speed work! I also love watching YouTube videos or Netflix too which passes the time a lot faster!

    These are all great tips!!!

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    1. I've always been anti-screen time on the treadmill--I once read that you don't have effective workouts when you're watching the screen-- but it may become my go to if this winter doesn't improve.

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  32. HAHA these are amazing, I especially LOVE the dance on the treadmill tip! :)

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    1. I wish I had that kind of coordination!

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  33. I prefer the great outdoors unless it's icy and dangerous to run outside. We had a very snowy winter of 2010 when I was training for Boston so I did several long treadmill runs. I know I did at least one 16-miler and one 18-miler, plus several other mid-range runs...

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    1. I guess if I was training for Boston and had no other choice, I'd make do too!

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  34. I haven't been on a treadmill in almost 5 years. I always laugh at folks in Waikiki running on treadmills when it's beautiful year round.

    Californians are now adding mudslides to our weather challenges...

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    1. Yeah, you guys have really gotten the brunt of things. Except for the brutal cold, that is.

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  35. Hopefully, the snow is done (not likely) and I never have to run on the treadmill again. LOL. Except if I have a run and it's thunderstorming, then I guess so. But you know what, why did I never think about wearing my flip belt and tucking my iPod in there? I listened to it the other day when I did 7 miles (didn't think I could make it without some form of distraction!) and I just set it down. Stupid cord gets in the way every time! That's a brilliant idea of tucking away into your spibelt!

    I like to get the treadmill on the end where more windows are so I can pretend I'm outside. It was amusing to watch people trying to drive in the snow and ice through the parking lot. lol Don't worry, no one got hurt. :)

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    1. I used to run with just my phone and used apps like Map My Run until i experienced the dead phone phenonomena in the winter. I realized that my body heat would keep it happy. The Garmin dying was a whole new thing for me, tho.

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  36. I totally agree about the distractions. My favorite is playlists that I only listen to when I'm working out or podcasts.

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  37. I often feel sick after running on the treadmill. I don't get motion sickness but I think it might be some sort of inner ear thing? I don't know. The longest I've run on one is 10 miles, at a gym with nothing to look at except a clock! Ugh.

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    1. I'm sure that not moving forward is messing with your inner ear. I'll have to do some resesrch on this--you've got me intrigued!

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  38. Like you, I try to avoid the treadmill whenever possible. I get so bored but it would help if I had a friend running next to me that I could talk to like we do outside. Sometimes I will alternate 10 min on treadmill then hop on the bike or elliptical and keep switching.

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    1. That's a great idea--kind of like a brick workout!

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  39. I think my longest treadmill run was 14 miles, but that was quite a few years ago. I don't have access to a treadmill currently (there's one at my apt complex, but the workout room is only open 8-5, so I don't consider it a viable option), so all my runs are outside. Lucky for me, Las Vegans have the best winter weather. LOL

    Back when I did use a treadmill, it was always really hard to run anything but intervals. I tended to push myself a bit more than out on the road. :-D

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    1. I suppose you would use the TM more in the summer to beat the heat than in the winter!

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  40. I love watching tv, but I ran on a TM in Budapest that had virtual routes on video. It felt like I was running through the mountains.

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    1. That's what I"m talking about!!!! Game changer.

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  41. And now California has flooding and mudslides!

    I hate the treadmill. Great tips, but I have a hard time lasting beyond three miles. I do generally do some kind of interval work because that seems to make it a little better, so it's a good thing I don't have to do it very often!

    It was raining hard yesterday morning, so I brought my running gear to work with me, figuring I'd probably have to run on the treadmill. Fortunately, the rain let up so I was able to get outside. Hooray!

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    1. If it weren't for the Lulu/Strava challenge, I doubt I would have run outside today in the wind and rain, but I'm glad I did it!

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  42. My longest run on the treadmill was 14 miles and the only way I got it done was knowing I didn't have much of an option otherwise. I don't seek out the treadmill and run outside whenever I can - which is fortunately often in the PNW!

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  43. It's rough for me and it's definitely a mind issue but I like your tips! Visualization is key so I need to get better at that!

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  44. I do a lot of netflix... but it's still boring as all get out. I do find when I do my intervals on the 'mill it goes a lot faster.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you say that--because I don't watch TV on the treadmill.

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  45. Those GIFs are hilarious. Great tips for getting in the miles on the human hamster wheel.

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    1. You have to have a sense of humor about it, that's for sure!

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  46. Your gif and meme game is strong! I don't like the treadmill, but can make it work for sprints and intervals.

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  47. I don’t mind the treadmill too much but I am not training for a marathon either so my miles are low. I usually count down and focus on the numbers!

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    1. I try to avoid paying attention at all!

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  48. Awesome tips! If I have to hit the dreadmill I usually will do intervals or speed work and watch NEtflix.

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    1. You have to do what you have to do, right?

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  49. Thankfully I don't mind the treadmill. But I haven't used it at all this year so maybe that's why I'm saying that. I'm getting a little tired of my bike, though!!

    Rumor has it we're about to have a major ice storm this weekend. Ugh. This winter has been awful!!

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    1. That ice storm is rolling in here as we speak..

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  50. Great tips! The longest treadmill run I've ever done was 12 miles and that was plenty long. I saw someone in another fb group the other day that did 30 miles on a treadmill - INSANE!

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  51. I'm so impressed with everyone that can stick to the treadmill when need be! Mind over matter for sure! Great tips, Wendy - thanks!

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  52. Good tips! I loathe running on the mill but have learned to embrace it for hills and speedwork. I think my longest run was 8 miles and it was a tough one!

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