As Ossi Peltoniemi prepares for his spring race at the Boston Marathon, he shares how he stays motivated to train on the dreaded treadmill in the depths of winter. Learn how his five tips can make running on the treadmill more enjoyable.

Written by Ossi Peltoniemi (translated from Finnish) 

Images by Jussi Sirviö (@sirjussi)


Honestly, training on a treadmill is boring. At least initially. Every fall, I experience moments of horror as I think of 6 months of cold winter and endless treadmill exercises. The first couple of runs are the worst. Time stops. Kilometers do not increase. It's hot. Sweat flows. Breathing is hard. The monotonous sound of feet pounding the spanning surface and the constant rumbling of the machine is not a tempting prospect. You need to come up with ways to fool yourself. 

Because I really do a lot on the treadmill in the winter because of the situation outside, I wanted to make the treadmill workout as comfortable as possible. I run almost all the more strenuous training on the treadmill during the winter. During the harshest periods of frost, I may run on the treadmill for a couple of weeks. My situation with treadmill training is good. I have my own treadmill and space at home where I can practice. The best thing is that I don't need to drive to the gym. Starting an exercise is very quick and easy. Treadmill training adapts and becomes tolerable, even enjoyable.

Here are my five tips with the treadmill:

  • 1. Try to improve the ventilation of the room.
  • Air conditioners and fans make running a lot easier. Easy-to-open windows and doors also quickly change airflow if it's not too cold outside!
  • 2. Bring variety to your workout.
  • The dullest runs are even-paced where the pace or incline of the treadmill does not change. Try different speeds and incline levels.
  • 3. Get a mirror in front of the treadmill.
  • The mirror allows you to follow your running technique and form. Note the errors and correct them!
  • 4. If the treadmill running is boring, entertain yourself!
  • You can listen to music, audiobooks, or even watch TV at slow speeds. Focusing is harder at faster speeds, so it's worth paying attention to staying on the treadmill.
  • 5. On the treadmill, you do not need to run alone.
  • Group runs can also be executed indoors. Take your friends to the gym and let them run next to one another. Everyone can choose the pace that suits them.


Through these means, I have learned to like specific exercises. High-speed workouts, in particular, come to mind because they make it easy to control your pace. It is often challenging to keep the pace steady due to slippery surfaces or a strong headwind when running outdoors. The treadmill does not have this problem, and you can easily control the workout.

At the end of my treadmill training season, I went to test my fitness at the Santasport Olympic Training Center. The test involved running loads of three minutes. Between these intervals, blood lactate levels were measured. The pace accelerates every three minutes, and the test ends when you no longer keep up with the treadmill. Based on the test results, you get a pace range and heart rate zones in which you should train. The test also measures the maximum oxygen capacity (VO2max) with a head-mounted mask. Wearing the mask feels quite awkward and distressing. Running is also hampered by a wearable harness that you need to wear for safety reasons. You don't slam into the back wall when your legs fail to maintain the set pace.

 The start of the test is always easy. At first, we run at a slow pace, but soon, the pace accelerates. Sweat begins to flow, breathing accelerates, and the harness rubs more and more. Occasionally, the tester will ask about your well-being and takes blood from your finger to measure lactate levels. At the end stage, you will find that your body can no longer flush acids out of your muscles. You know the end is near. You still dream of passing another three-minute load, but the countdown of seconds goes exceptionally slowly at this point. You squeeze everything. The running form starts to break down, and you begin to drift to the outer sides of the treadmill. Finally, I get to the end and press the big red stop button. The treadmill stops, and I collapse to the floor. I felt awful but proud at the same time.

This time, I got through the pain and exceeded previous testing outcomes. Based on the test, I am in good condition, even though I got Covid a month earlier. With confidence and eagerness, I am looking ahead to spring training and, of course, the Boston Marathon.


Ossi Peltoniemi / @ossipeltoniemi

A history teacher and long-distance runner from Rovaniemi, Lapland (Finland).