I’m an Ultrarunner. Taylor Swift’s Treadmill Workout Wrecked Me.

After three-plus hours on the treadmill belting out every song on the Era's tour, I can tell you why Swift’s concert training regimen works

Photo: The Outside Show

Last week, Taylor Swift released her training regimen for the Eras Tour, her three-and-a-half-hour stadium extravaganza, and the running internet went wild.

Swift said she began training for the tour six months before the first show, saying, “Every day I would run on the treadmill, singing the entire set list out loud. Fast for fast songs, and a jog or a fast walk for slow songs.”

That’s three and a half hours on a treadmill, singing the entire time. Swift would also increase the incline for songs that required more movement during the show. Keep in mind that during the actual show, she’s romping around in sparkly boots with three-inch heels. In an interview with Time—in which Swift was named Person of the Year—Taylor said her feet often make crunching sounds the day after shows from hours in those boots, a feeling relatable to any runner flirting with plantar fasciitis.

I’m an ultrarunner. I’ve knocked off 50- and 100-mile races and won them on occasion. I haven’t been this excited about a specific training regimen since Nils van der Poel dropped his Olympic training log, and as many noted endurance experts have noted, the principles behind this workout are solid. It’s essentially a controlled fartlek workout with alternating intensities. The singing while training will keep you honest, ensuring you never wander too far outside your aerobic threshold lest you lose your breath.

Taylor Swift Eras Tour
Swift performs for three and a half hours during the Eras Tour, in heels, without taking a break (Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Getty)

First of all, this workout is a behemoth. Even ultra legend Courtney Dauwalter usually caps her long runs at three hours. But not T-Swift. To prepare for a career-spanning show with ten costume changes (depending on the acoustic set, give or take an additional costume) and upwards of three guest appearances and bonus tracks, Taylor dropped miles like they were scarves at Jake Gyllenhaal’s house. Not only did she likely log as many miles as many marathoners (I propose we now measure time in “Eras,” or 3.5 hours. As in, “I’d like to run a sub-Eras marathon this year.”), but she did so while singing. Well.

The Workout

I approached my own workout with the strategy and prep that I’d usually put into a marathon. I planned my fuel and liquid breaks. I assembled the playlist. Showtime!

Each era in the show is between seven and 42 minutes. The Lover set is fairly uptempo but manageable. Infused with pre-pandemic pop-timism, it moves and shakes at a lightly aerobic effort. I’ve got this! I thought to myself, singing at the top of my lungs to the songs I love. At least you’re not wearing heels! Then Fearless (Taylor’s Version, obvi) kicks in, with driving guitar bridges and epic crescendos. But still manageable. It’s a tempo run, baby, just say yes!

Zoe Rom Taylor Swift Workout
Rom singing her heart out on the treadmill  (Photo: Zoe Rom)

Thirty-two minutes in, the downbeat Evermore set begins. A folksy 23-minute respite. I took a gel and a swig of water. When did Taylor have time to fuel during the Eras Tour? Was there a bottle of Maurten just out of view or a Clif Bar tucked into a brazier? What was her electrolyte strategy? You can’t do this show in Nashville or Brazil without a dialed-in electrolyte plan. Taylor, if you’re reading this, we recommend between 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour for this level of activity.

Beyonce–if you’re reading this, please don’t tell us how you got ready for Renaissance. I don’t think my soft tissue and joints can handle it.

At this point, I’m feeling the miles but reasonably well recovered from Tay’s first pandemic album. My bangs are plastered to my forehead, but I’m glad I don’t have to wiggle into a sequined leotard.  No sooner had I brought my heart rate back down to baseline than the Reputation set blasts on with (somewhat regrettable and very 2017) bass horns. Every song on this album is a banger of a sonic middle finger to anyone who has ever crossed Ms. Swift, and it shows in the BPM. This was likely the crux of the workout, leaving me more or less part gasping, part belting over “Look What You Made Me Do.” Then, Speak Now offered a brief but necessary reprieve before I dove into the steady-state effort of Red. (Break-up albums are great to run to; it’s just science!) There is no catharsis quite like screaming and running on a treadmill.

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The Folklore set offered another brief rest of slower and middle-tempo hits. I drank. I fueled. I prepared myself mentally for what was to come. The 1989 and Midnights sets are back to back, offering a double-whammy of Taylor-in-her-prime-pissed-off-about-Harry-Styles magic—42 minutes of dazzling, danceable, near-threshold effort.

Beyonce–if you’re reading this, please don’t tell us how you got ready for Renaissance. I don’t think my soft tissue and joints can handle it.

I Got Swiftied

I’ve done one-mile repeats. Hill workouts. Track workouts. Long runs with tempo efforts. This is the hardest workout I’ve ever done. I was wrecked. My trachea felt like I had swallowed Taylor’s bejeweled duster. I was soaked in sweat and fighting the urge to lie down on the gym floor (lest I lose favor in a gym that had already so kindly lent me a private room to sing to myself as I ran on the treadmill). Is it possible to get DOMS in your feels?

But it wasn’t just hard. It was fun. Constantly varying efforts help you stay engaged, and focusing on remembering the lyrics helps you stay more present with the effort, rather than hyper-fixating on how far you’ve gone, or time elapsed. Though I’ve had the set list nearly memorized since it dropped at 3:31 P.M. EST on March 18th, the unpredictability in song length and intensities is a nice mental challenge. It’s tough but flexible. Demanding but fun. Much like the singer herself.

I could say that I like the Taylor Swift workout because it made time pass more quickly on the treadmill or because it made otherwise dreary winter running fun, or because it helped me hone in on my aerobic effort, and all of that would be true. But the thing that I really liked about Taylor Swift’s treadmill workout is that it makes not shrinking your body but growing your capacity the focus.

So much fitness and workout advice aimed at women is premised on minimizing our ability to show up in the world, sapping us of time, energy, and the stuff of our very bodies. They tell us how to run to make ourselves smaller or lift to make certain acceptable and desirable parts of our bodies bigger. But Taylor’s workout is different. It doesn’t claim to make you thinner or faster. No part of it will help you look better in a swimsuit, or a dress, or even a cardigan. But it has a vital purpose. It’s about owning your strength so that you can own your voice and own your story. And that’s a fitness trend I can get behind.

Zoe Rom Taylor Swift Workout
Rom gets in the spirit running in sequins (Photo: Zoe Rom)

Zoe Rom, the editor-in-chief of TrailRunnermag.com, is a host on the new Outside Show, on which you’ll see more of her Taylor Swift treadmill workout soon. 


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