In Which Jenn Runs 20 Miles Thanks To Jeopardy

I didn’t have to do it.

There were a million reasons not to. I had the remains of a splinter in my heel. I suspected I might be fighting off a very very low level cold. I’d already run a 17 miler, and that’s been enough marathon prep in the past, right?

But it was on the schedule, so I did it: my 20 mile training run.

Normally I knock out my good-marathon-prep-mandatory 20 miler during the National Capital 20 Miler. This is a race put on by a local running club in bare bones fashion; no medals, few spectators, just a bib and an out and back course. BUT. There is course support! Snacks and drinks I don’t have to carry FTW!

Unfortunately, this year’s race was the same morning I would just be leaving the Outer Banks, so I had to skip. That left me to tackle the dreaded distance alone. And sure, I could’ve done it outside, but then I would’ve had to worry about on course supplies and bathroom breaks and water and weather and… forget it. I’d done 20 on a treadmill before and I could do it again.

I can feel 99% of you clenching your pork butts at the mere thought. I hear you! Long distances on the treadmill can blow in a lot of ways. But sometimes they’re necessary, and to that end, I figured I’d walk you through mine to see how I cope (for more tips on long runs on the treadmill, click here).

First, supplies. I picked up Swedish Fish and a peanut butter packet for fuel, plus I have a big 32 oz water bottle that I refilled at one point (yet one advantage of the gym setting).

Next, physical prep. I slapped some KT Tape on the hip and knee that have been known to give me trouble. I also hit my chafe points with some Vaseline to prevent discomfort on that front.

Most importantly, entertainment. I think that’s where a lot of treadmill-haters get tripped up. Something about the lack of scenery changing makes you all antsy. That’s where audio comes in! Fire up your playlist, by all means – but it’s important to have a plan. The same old tracks may not cut it when the boring chips are down, so make sure you have a stash you know will excite you.

I highly recommend something with a long through line, such as a full album you love or is new to you, a movie or musical soundtrack, etc. For this occasion I decided to re-listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack, which I have only done once before (normally I pick and choose favorites). This slammed me through almost 2.5 hours of running time! I have also successfully used Disney park show soundtracks, like Festival of the Lion King.

When the going gets rough, though, music alone may not be enough. I know some people like to watch TV on the treadmill, and that can be a good distraction – but this time around I stumbled upon a surprising distraction solution. Please try this: watch Jeopardy.

I didn’t plan this. I just glanced up at one of the gym’s many, many TV monitors and there it was. So I started to watch, and get involved with answering (questioning?), and when I next glanced down I realized 5 solid minutes of treadmill time had passed without me noticing it despite being on, I don’t know, mile 14 at the time. And so for the next half hour I focused on Jeopardy questions as hard as I could and wouldn’t you know, it worked.

So my advice to you is now this: consider intellectual game shows for your long run treadmill needs! Jeopardy! Cash Cab! Reruns of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego!

No, but like, seriously. WHERE?

I know the treadmill is not for everyone, but I hope these tips will help make your next indoor long run more bearable. Next stop: The Baltimore Marathon!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!


  1. I love it when Jeopardy is on at my gym! I think being mentally distracted is great for running. My biggest treadmill pet peeve for long runs is that my gym's treadmills shut off after 60 minutes. So I have to restart it and then I feel like I lose some momentum.

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