I am running to loose weight, I like using the treadmill, I put it on 2% incline and set the speed to 10.0 mph. Now the thing is, I think this is more of a mental barrier than a physical one, I always get off around 300 calories/15 minutes...I noticed that I am doing this, there has been the odd occasion where I go longer but usually for some reason I just get off, it is a mental barrier, it isn't boredom, I just feel more mentally inept than physically because despite breathing really hard I can go for longer... I am 5"9 and weigh 180 lbs. I have a lot of muscle underneath my fat. The same goes for when I am interval training, I will do 12mph-14mph for 2 minutes and 5mph for 1 minute for 15 minutes and get off...does anyone have any suggestions for this mental barrier problem I am facing?

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    Slow down. You're running 6 minute mile pace. Try running at a 7 minute/mile pace for 30 minutes. For endurance exercise, you shouldn't be "breathing really hard".
    – JohnP
    Jul 11, 2014 at 14:23

5 Answers 5


You've acknowledged that it is a mental barrier you are facing. The most effective strategy here is going to be to break through it mentally. You say you "usually for some reason...just get off", well, in all honesty, my advice is simply to not get off. Recognize when you are approaching this point that there will be pressure from your body to stop, then respond to that and continue to push forward.

With endurance exercises, mental fitness is a much larger component of ability than with weightlifting. Training your mind to recognize points of greater and greater fatigue as your breaking point can usually be just as effective, to a point, as increasing your physical fitness. Once you begin to push through this 15 minute point on a regular basis, you'll find it easier to push through, and will move on to a later breaking point for the run.

For how you can help yourself decide to push through, my strongest recommendation is to find a person or group to run with. Competition makes it much easier to reach your physical limits, as its much harder to give up when you see others continuing onward. Another option, as Chris mentioned, is to incorporate other exercises right after 15 minutes, as a way to prove to yourself you have energy left. If one day you run for 15 minutes, then bike for another 10 right after, the next time you run you will be more aware of the remaining energy you have at the end of 15 minutes, and can use that knowledge to push on.

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    you are right, I used to be able to skip for an hour, but I let my self go and I never thought to myself that this mental barrier would be more of a problem than the weight, I am just going to have to not get off, and really push, you are right, I do get to that 15 minute point, then I think to myself "not this time" but I just automatically do it, I am going to have too really push it. Thank you for this. Jul 11, 2014 at 12:25
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    One of the general willpower tricks when trying to resist temptation (here, the temptation to stop) is to establish a near goal and make a mental promise that you just need to get there and you'll consider it again. In studies (and in my experience) if you set yourself a goal of "just 30 more seconds" when you feel like you can go no further, you'll generally make those 30 seconds and then more.
    – Sean Duggan
    Jul 11, 2014 at 14:10
  • @SeanDuggan thank you, over the past two days I have just kept saying one more minute and I am going 8mph for 45 minutes over the past two days burning 450 calories, tonight I plan to go for an hour, thank you so much for this! Jul 14, 2014 at 13:02
  • @user2405469 Great to hear! Keep it up Jul 14, 2014 at 13:18

Another suggestion that has worked for me specifically when running on a treadmill (although I am certainly not running at the speeds you indicate) is to remove the time indicator from your frame of reference. Just block the time indicator so that you are not obsessing over the time (be this lay a towel over the treadmill time, or remove the clock from your line of sight, etc.).

If you do not have other distractions, just focus on your movements and your breathing to try and streamline your form. Alternatively, as running on a treadmill can be boring (for me at least), having the tv or radio on may help. If you get absorbed in a show/broadcast you may find that the mental block is easier to overcome as the time you have spent running is no longer the primary focus.

Lastly, if you are comfortable running outside, the extra visual inputs and attention from your surroundings can often allow you to push further... plus, unlike the treadmill if you run for 10 minutes out, you will have to return (and why not run all the way back instead of walking :) ).


I feel meanderingmoose's answer is too vague to be useful.

I believe that you should

  • Set a long term goal
  • Set several intermediate goals that are realistic
  • Record your progress
  • Revise your goals every say 2-4 weeks

As an example, you might say:

Ultimate goal Lose 20lbs by Summer 2015

Intermediate Goal: I want to be able to run until the counter says 600 calories.

Current capacity: 300 calories.

Intermediate-intermediate goal: Every other sessions I will increase that count by 10 calories.

So say you run twice a week, try and hit 310 calories twice. If you go for 1 month you should be at 340 calories. Write down your progress and how you feel if that helps you.

At the end of the month ask yourself, was that too easy? Too hard? Have you hit a plateau and need to do something else for a while? Are you on track to lose that weight? Then revise your intermediate goals and go for another month, then revise again.

Be specific and realistic with your intermediate goals. If you set yourself something well beyond your ability, you may lose confidence, lose interest, get injured, over train etc.

You need to be able to constantly chip away towards your goal, form good habits, and show yourself that you can in-fact push slightly beyond your perceived limits and still be OK at the end.

  • Thank you for this, it is really helpful advice and I will implement it! I found meanderingmoose's very helpful, I slowed down to 8mph and stuck it out for 45 minutes burning 450 calories. I have done that for 2 days now, I plan to go higher tonight. I have been underestimating myself a lot, I am hitting points that require more mental effort than physical. My goal is to add another 15 minutes tonight making it an hour and try increasing the speed a little. I have tried increasing the speed by 0.3 miles and I stuck it out for 45 minutes. Jul 14, 2014 at 12:59

One suggestion could be to swap to another form of cardio following the treadmill.

I do 30 minutes on a rowing machine at the start of my workout and 30 minutes on the treadmill at the end of the session.

If you were to alternate between two machines, doing your 15-20 minutes on each, would that be enough to stave off the boredom?

Also, I listen to podcasts or music which stops me clock-watching too much. The time passes quickly listening to spoken word podcasts, more slowly with music I find.


There are three very simple things you need to know for losing weight: EAT LESS--DRINK MORE WATER--EXERCISE MORE

Running is a great way to lose weight but you won't only be losing fat you'll lose water weight at first; then you'll be losing both fat and muscle.

I ran on 5.4 for 25-30min with 1min walking before 1min walking after so I would get off at 27-32 or longer if I could. I would try to do it for 3 days a week. I lost 20lbs in two months and it was great I was happy with where I was.

check out this website for a very good calorie calculator: http://scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/ it's not dieting and whatever bad stuff people do; it tells you the calories your body uses and how many you need to lose weight. It's not saying you can only eat this and that. It doesn't care if you eat 2000 calories of mcdonalds or 2000 calories of ice cream or 2000 calories of spinach...2000 calories is 2000 calories....its only to help you. Also another great website is http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ it tells you the calories in foods to help you.

It is a great tool, but remember don't give up and don't eat extra...you're not tricking me or your mom or your neighbor, only yourself.

Don't pay for anything that people on the internet sell...don't think about juicing...don't do the no carb diet unless you're already 6 or less % body fat and you want to be less.

The whole thing is just do it, it is hard and it will take time...it took me two months to get rid of the 20lbs but look how long it took me to put it on prolly a year maybe more. It's all well worth the work, be consistant.

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    How did your response answer his question? His question is how to stay longer while exercising and not what to do to lose weight. If you don't modify your response to answer the real question, it's likely going to get downvoted. Jul 13, 2014 at 18:16

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