Sunday, January 10, 2010

Surviving the treadmill

I did it!! I finally ran past 4 miles on the treadmill! You've heard all my complaining about treadmill running and how I miss running outside. There was just no way I was going to pump myself up enough to do another long run in bitter cold temps. After that 10 mile run with the group, I just couldn't face the single digits and sub zero temperatures last week. All of my runs were inside on the treadmill, including 12 on Saturday.

As much as I really don't like running on the treadmill, with a little more "practice" last week, I've learned to not hate it as much. There are ways of making it interesting. Here's my Top Six list of surviving the treadmill. Some of them need a little 'splaining...

6. Headphones!!! - This may seem obvious, but it's always bothered me to run with headphones. They never stay in my ears and I can never seem to get the volume right. I spend most of my time and energy playing around with them rather than focusing on my workout. But, I have found that if I can get them in place even just for a few minutes and I find just the right song, I can crank away on the treadmill. FYI - "Single Ladies" by Beyonce has the perfect cadence for a good tempo run. For me, that's a 7:30 minute mile.

5. Watch all the muscle heads on the weight machines

4. Stare off into space. (This is only good for a minute or so and you have to be careful not to accidentally stare directly at someone. They might get the wrong message!)

3. Watch T.V. with closed captions. Again, there's my issue with headphones, so CC is really my best option when it comes to watching T.V.

2. Run with a friend and talk loudly over the machines and music. You may annoy everyone else around you, but hopefully they're tuned into their headphones and will hadly notice you practically screaming to be heard.

1. Play with the buttons and numbers on the display. I think I'm kinda freaky about this. Here's a little example. If I'm running 3 miles on the treadmill, I like to be done by 30 minutes. You think that would be easy, just run a 10 minute mile pace the whole time. But no, I can't make it that easy. I can't warm up that fast. I usually start off around an 11 or 12 minute pace for the first few minutes. Somewhere in that first mile, I'll get down to mid 10's. Because of my slow start, I usually don't hit a mile until 11 minutes or more. Now I've got to make up some lost time. During the second mile, I usually stay somewhere in the 10's. I'll hit mile 2 around 21 minutes. The last mile, I go all out. I keep increasing the speed a little at a time. I'll eventually try to get it so that I'll be at 2.5 by 25 minutes. The last half mile, I may also start playing around with the incline. Normally I stay at zero, but if I'm feeling good, I'll increase it to 4 or 5 incline for a minute or two. Then I come back down one number at a time until I'm back to zero with a couple minutes left. The end is all out. I try to go as fast as I can for those last couple of minutes. Ideally, I'll finish my 3 miles before I get to 30 minutes. It doesn't have to be exact, but it can't be under 3 miles (except if I'm going longer). Anyway, it's something like that. I just like playing around with it and changing the pace often. It mimicks outdoor running, without the downhills of course.

Even with all these survival techniques, the only way I made it through 12 on Saturday was running with Ann by my side the whole way and breaking it down into smaller segments. After every 4 miles we either switched 'mills or took a short break and restarted our displays. We talked most of the way, but by the end we needed to just hunker down and get it done. We got our iPods going and cranked out the last 4-5 miles. I'm so happy I got through it and that Ann was with me. It's probably the longest I'll ever want to go on the "dreadmill," but at least now I know it's not impossible!

With the warm up this week, I expect to enjoy running outside again. St. Louis marathon training will officially commence in 12 days. I'm going to enjoy my last couple of weeks of non-structured workouts.

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