Treadmill Etiquette: 5 Rules for Indoor Running

Matt Orlando
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Matt Orlando

Matt is a 30 something year old runner/father/husband from New Jersey. Along with writing for TheRunnerDad.com, he occasionally writes articles for other blogs and websites. He is an IT guy by day, with a passion for running, traveling, and photography.
Matt Orlando
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The past month plus has had me running at the gym a lot since I have been getting my miles in before the sun rises. These miles upon miles have given me plenty of time to reflect on a myriad of issues, from running to politics to health to parenting. One thing which I have given a lot of thought to has been treadmill etiquette.

When exercising in close proximity to other people, there are certain basic rules one should follow in order to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all involved. I mean, let’s be honest, I would rather be outdoors pounding (on lightly gliding over) the pavement than breathing in the recycled and somewhat stale air of the gym. But when injury or weather or other obstacles keep me from running outside, I would like my treadmill run to be as pleasant as possible. So with that in mind, I came up with a list of guidelines everyone (I think at least) should follow when exercising on a treadmill.

Rule 1: Leave a Buffer Treadmill

This is a pet peeve for me, and I cannot stress this enough. If there are enough treadmills to leave a buffer, please leave a buffer. When you are running on the treadmill indoors, you sweat more and probably stink more (I know I do). Being in close proximity to someone else in this situation is not ideal. There’s nothing worse than when there’s a room full of open treadmills and someone saddles up right next to you.

Rule 2: Step Lightly, Breathe Softly

Just like the free weight section of the gym has those guys who grunt and scream and slam the weights down, so the cardio section has those people who grunt and growl and pound down on the treadmill far too hard. I understand sometimes you need to put in some speed work, but seriously leave these hardest workouts for outside, or learn how to take it down a notch. Your running neighbors will be thankful.

Rule 3: Bring and Use A Towel

As I said above, running inside is going to make you sweat. Even with overhead fans (and the tiny built-in ones in some treadmills) the lack of a true breeze means your skin is going to accumulate sweat. Eventually as you are bouncing away that sweat is going to start to fly in all different directions. Whether it hits your neighbor or even just hits an empty treadmill, no one wants your sweat residue on them. Bring a towel (or even paper towels) and wipe down frequently.

Rule 4: It’s Not Your Bedroom

We all bring stuff to the gym: our keys, phones, towels, extra clothes, sports drink, gels, bags, etc. However, just because you bring it does not mean you can just spread it out wherever you please. It is critical for your and others’ safety that your treadmill and the area around it be kept clear. If you cannot fit your gear in the cup holders and no nearby hooks are available, invest in a pad lock and use the locker room. Sure, it may take a few more minutes and you will likely see some naked old people walking around (because they just don’t care), but at the end of the day it may keep you or someone else from suffering an unnecessary injury.

Rule 5: Clean Up After Yourself

Most gyms now have Lysol type wipes or spray to clean the equipment after you have used it. Even if you do not feel as though you got the machine messy, it is simply good practice to give the treadmill panel and arms a quick wipe down after you are done. Not only is it polite but it also helps prevent the spread of colds, the flu, and more.

So that about sums it up. While I also take issue with people who spend their time on the treadmill walking at a snail’s pace while texting on their cell phone, as long as they are not taking the treadmill away from someone who wants to use it for legitimate exercise I don’t mind (though I will never understand the point). Just remember, most people run on the treadmill out of necessity, not love, so please try to make it an enjoyable experience for all involved.

Do you think I missed anything? Have some treadmill horror stories? Share in the comments below!

5 Comments

  1. Cecil @ Dreadmill Drummer

    This is a great post that I think we should all keep in mind. Sometimes we forget or get distracted, but getting into the habit certainly helps.

    Reply
  2. Tiffany@ThisIsTheAfter

    I think your list sums it up well. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Jeff Strasser

    tip….consider your speed….you might find yourself running faster than most and drawing too much power from the apparently not well designed hotel gym, cause a circuit to blow, and have every treadmill in the place shutdown. been there.

    Reply
  4. Chris Messerschmidt (@chrimess)

    How about not staring at the other person’s treadmill panel and commenting on their pace..

    Reply
  5. Raymond Rowell

    You’ve done a great post here, some genuine thoughts on not only treadmill etiquette but general life etiquette (with a few tweaks). One question, have you had any treadmill related fatigue/injury vs. road running?

    Reply

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