Treadmill Trick: Make Your Mind Work For You – Rather Than Against You.

Ready, set, go: Make your mind work for you - rather than against you.

I know you’ve been there: You’re 5 minutes into a 20 minute treadmill run. You’re already short of breath – and all you can think about is that you still have 15 minutes of running left. In your mind, you’re already defeated and there’s no way you’re going to finish the run.

I like to say that running is 75% physical and 25% mental. Sure, our ability to run is largely determined by our level of cardiovascular performance. But our mind plays a huge role, too. Running is, at least in part, mental. As such, we can use our minds to sabotage our running – or to help us push through.

One of the simplest and most effective mental treadmill tricks is shifting your focus away from the total amount of time left. In the above example, don’t put your attention on the remaining 15 minutes. Instead, consider that you already have five minutes under your belt. Focus on getting through the next minute. If that seems too much, push yourself another 30 seconds. Once you get there, extend your goal just a little bit further out. It’s just like the donkey and the carrot.

When I train with intervals, for example, I’m usually tired within the first few minutes. I often push myself to just finish the next set of intervals. Once I’m there, I realize that there’s enough figurative gas in the tank for another. And then so on. It works.

Your mind can be your biggest challenge or your biggest cheerleader. It can be a foe – or a friend. To get the results you want, it makes much more sense to use this powerful tool in your favor.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. I also recommend making a good playlist of music. I like things with good beats that I can use to help pace myself or sing along with in my head.

    My other recommendation is to use a towel or something and cover up the time/distance readout. Set a pace that you know is good for you and adjust as necessary, but don’t keep looking at it.

  2. I’ve slowly gotten into intervals on the treadmill, but I still prefer just pounding out ridiculous amounts miles in one go.

    For me, I either watch myself in the mirror to keep an eye on form or get lost in Pandora radio. If I start singing along, I know I can crank up the pace.

  3. You can also dangle the guy in the picture on a rope just off the treadmill. Most any guy will keep running then! But thanks Davey, I agree on the intervals!

  4. i dont know if im not going fast enough or not, but i just ignore the time, i’ll watch the tv, listen to music, read a book, and just keep going in the straight line until the machine stops. I might peak at it to make sure i dont slam into the machine when it stops at the end, but i’ll just occupy myself with other things and keep going until my time is done.

  5. Definatley agree on the intervals! Only started on them 2 months ago and struggled to get through 10mins! Then I just said to myself “finish this set and you can stop” then realised at the end of that set I could do ‘just 1 more’ now I blast through 20 mins without thinking about it!! Xx

  6. I like to select about 6 songs that are on my ‘I love the shyt outta these songs’ list. If it is really sucking (the run) I just say, heard 3 songs.. 3 more.. 2 more.. Whooot last one.. By the last song on do pumped that I’m ready to bang out crunches and push ups.. or Just Dance dance on the wii 🙂 6 calories burnt per minute has never been so fun!!

  7. christopher says:

    i try to find a threadmill that plays tv decently-some dont work at allor hardly at all.i try to focus on music played in the club-as i have no ipad.seriously thinking about buying one.concentrating on the mini-screen tv-usually does the trick.

  8. Steven Depaz says:

    I started working out and eating right just under 2 months ago and I do a lot of cardio (elliptical). I always have the timer count up from 0 to 30 minutes rather than counting down.. and what also helps me ( and this is probably a given) is music. I tend to not focus so much on the run or the time but on the song. Lets say Rocky’s “Eye of the Tiger” or Lady GaGa’s “Discostick”, I find myself syncing my lips to the music and it motivates me, pushes me to keep going.

    I’m considered a “bear” type in the gay community, I started off the year at 346 pounds.. now i’m at 302 and still dropping. All about eating right and exercising

  9. Hi Davey, thank you for your post!
    I’m not a fan of a treadmill for that exact reason and prefer the outdoors. The farther away I get away from my home the longer my run home is 🙂
    But when the weather does not permit for such luxury, I succumb to hamster-wheel-treadmill run. I have another trick. I set my goal time to be really low – 5 to 10 min, and when I reach that point, I keep increasing it by 1-2 minutes. Before you know it, 30 minutes have passed and I’m still going strong!

    Love your posts!

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