How to read and run on the treadmill?


The treadmill can be a great tool for your training, but sometimes it’s hard to keep motivated. It’s especially challenging if you’re trying to read something without constantly stopping the belt.

Here are some tips to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your training time.

1. Go slow enough that you can concentrate on what you’re reading

When I first tried to read and run, I went too fast. The Best Treadmill for Seniors has to set at 2 mph (I don’t have one of those fancy 3+ mph treadmills). At this speed, you can only take in so much information and by the time you finished a sentence, the belt had already moved on.

2. Keep it short

I know that sounds counterintuitive since you’re trying to squeeze as much training into your schedule as possible, but if it’s an article or story you really want to enjoy, make it only a few paragraphs long. If you have longer articles or books with chapters then use chapter breaks to stop running for periods of time and let your mind rest before going back to the treadmill (and the story).

3. Find something to read that you’re fascinated about

When I ran to read “The Godfather” I was completely motivated because the story was so interesting. If you can find something that gets your blood pumping, it’s a lot easier to focus on reading and running. On the other hand, if it’s a story you’re not really into then your mind will start to wander and you’ll find yourself having difficulty concentrating.

4. Pick a subject that you’re curious about

If I’m reading something about a topic I’m interested in or passionate about, then my mind is always engaged trying to absorb as much information as possible. It can be very hard to read when you aren’t invested in the material so choose things that pique your interest (especially non-fiction).

5. Keep it simple

If you have trouble keeping up with the belt while reading, try picking stories that are only a few short paragraphs long or just one chapter of extended work. If your treadmill has speed controls then step off the belt and walk while you’re reading.

6. Use a speed control button or trigger to stop the belt

My treadmill has this feature, but not all treadmills do. If you have access to one on yours, it’s very useful for stopping the belt to read in between intervals without having to worry about tripping over your shoelaces or falling off the back of the treadmill (yes, I did that once). This may also prevent other people who are training from walking up as you’re trying to read (which happens occasionally when I’m on my treadmill late at night).

7. Use natural breaks in the story

I do a lot of my reading on the elliptical and I’ve found that by simply pausing for a few seconds the belt will move to the next thing so you can just keep going instead of having to continually start and stop. Again, if your treadmill has speed controls then it’s even easier – just step off!

8. Look at your watch as you’re running (or when you can)

Try not to get caught up with looking down at your feet while reading – doing this is a recipe for tripping over or stepping on things accidentally. Make sure you have ample time before starting back up again so that there isn’t any risk of falling off or being hit by other people.

9. Know what you’re going to read before starting your workout

I have trouble reading when I’m on the elliptical since it’s very hard to concentrate with my arms moving around constantly. Most of the time, I’m in such a hurry that I don’t know what I want to read and by the time I’ve picked something out, my trial is over! So now I try to pre-select at least one thing so that when it comes down to crunch time, it can be easily loaded onto whatever device you’re using (and if there isn’t sufficient battery power left then you may end up doing easy intervals instead).

10. Don’t Compromise the Neck Position

A big mistake that people make when reading while running is to bend down their heads or lean back. This changes the natural curvature of your spine so don’t do this! The best way to read is with your head up and looking forward.

11. Keep good form

I’ve seen people reading while toeing off so I suppose that’s not a problem in itself, but it does look kind of crummy and makes you look like an idiot. It’s best to avoid this by looking at your watch when you can or checking the display on the treadmill to make sure you’re running slow enough so that you don’t trip over your shoelaces when walking off.


I can’t emphasize this enough – reading while running is very dangerous. This will all be useless if you trip and fall. No matter how much you concentrate, things like books or smartphones still pose a danger.

If your treadmill doesn’t have speed controls then be careful about doing quick intervals and walking off at the wrong time since this could cause you to fall behind the moving belt. The same goes for other equipment without similar speed control features depending on how they’re set up – it’s possible to get hurt or run into other people doing any kind of interval workout (or just basic cardio).

There’s also the risk of tripping over something in front of you which could result in falling forward into whatever is laying out there in front of you – like a treadmill column, the edges of the equipment, or other people. When I looked at my own gym and what was laying around, there were lots of things that could have tripped me up at least once (and in some cases three times).

13. Enjoy!

I don’t know why I would ever want to read on my elliptical but it’s still much easier than running outside in the winter or on hot days when you’re doing long runs or races. It’s also nice if you’re looking for an interval workout to cut down your time so that you can get home earlier to spend time with family members. In any case, I hope these tips will make reading while running a safer and more enjoyable experience for you.

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