Watching TV while doing a treadmill workout is a common activity, but have you ever considered that your TV can actually help you get in better shape or become a stronger runner? Here are some ideas to help you get more fit and burn more calories during the next episode of your favorite TV show.

These can be performed while watching a TV show, but using the commercial breaks instead of the clock to tell you when to change the routine a bit.

Treadmill Intervals During Commercials

While watching a TV show and running on the treadmill use the commercials to run short intervals. Usually commercials are between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Do a normal run during the show, but when the commercials come on, crank the speed up during the first commercial to a pace you can hold for a minute. When the commercial changes then drop your speed back down to normal, or a little less if you need recovery time. Keep alternating through the commercials. When the show comes back on, settle into your normal running pace.

A problem with this workout is that it could take your treadmill 15 seconds to get up to speed and another 15 to come back down. If commercials are only 30 seconds, you spend half the time of each interval adjusting the machine. Alternately you can do 2 commercials at a time if they are all 30 seconds each.

Treadmill Mini-Tempo Run During Commercials

You can use the commercial breaks to bump your speed up to 5K or 10K race pace for the length of the break. This is like a tempo run on a small scale. Over the course of a 1 hour TV show, there are 18 to 22 minutes of commercials. An increase in speed for 1/3 of your run will give you a boost in workout intensity. Because the breaks are spread out over the course of the hour, you won't be completely wasted at the end of any of the commercial breaks, but still have a more intensive workout.

Treadmill Reverse Tempo Run During Commercials

While doing a tempo run on the treadmill, use the commercials as time to slow your pace a bit and then go back to tempo pace during the show. The purpose of a true tempo run is to get you used to running your goal race pace for an extended period of time. Because you don't want to slow down during a tempo run, this type of commercial break run should not be used to replace all of your tempo running. It is just a good alternative to make your time on the treadmill at home or at the gym more lively.

Treadmill Hill Workout During Commercials

When a commercial break comes on during the show, increase the pitch on your treadmill by 1%. The next commercial in the series gets a bump up another 1%. Continue to increase the grade on the hill at each new commercial. When the show comes back on work your way back down to your normal running pitch. You thought you hated long commercials before? With this workout you would rather have 3 long commercials in a break instead of 6 short ones.

Treadmill Long Run During Commercials

Training for a half marathon, marathon, or longer race? You could easily be on the treadmill for a couple of hours per run. Use the commercials to simulate each of the above running conditions. Some commercials will be time to speed up. It is that little boost you need to catch a runner ahead of you during a race. The slower paced commercials runs can be the water and gu breaks during your marathon. Almost every long race has a few hills. The hill workout mentioned above will prepare you for those unavoidable hills and give you an advantage over your flatland training competitors.

Treadmill with built-in TVTreadmill Galloway Training During Commercials

If you are planning to do a Galloway run/walk for your upcoming race, you can start practicing on the treadmill in front of the TV. While the idea of a run/walk plan is usually very structured, you can throw variety in by mixing it up on the treadmill using commercial breaks as your key to walk. Run your normal training run with plans to take a brisk walk break during the commercial breaks. A true Galloway run/walk would have you walking more often with a more balanced time between running and walking, but this is a way to wake yourself up while on the treadmill.

Treadmill Fartlek During Commercials

A fartlek run is any kind of run that changes the pace randomly, either up or down. This random speed increase and decrease should not be predictable. You are trying to avoid falling into a pattern. While doing a training run on the treadmill you can add in fartlek intervals based on the commercials. If the commercial break comes on with either a fast song, or a car commercial, that is your cue to pick up the pace for the duration of the commercial break. Go back down to normal training pace during the show. If the next commercial break starts with soothing music, then drop your speed slightly during that commercial break. Make your own rules for how you should increase or decrease the run.

An alternate way to do fartleks is to pick a word, or set of words that you are listening for in the show. If the trigger word is said during the program or commercials, you will change your pace to a faster one. Once the word is said again, then drop your speed back down to normal. Keep speeding up and slowing down for the duration of the run each time the trigger word is said. Be sure to pick a word that will appear often enough to be usable, but not too often to wear you out. If the word is spoken too often, you can skip every other time the word is used.

These are just some ideas that you can use to build your own commercial break running programs. Running on the treadmill while watching TV does not have to be boring. Variety can help perk up any training run. Use the TV commercials that you are having to watch as your trigger to break into a different style or pace of workout.