Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Ever since I started running I have hated the idea of treadmills.  Why run on a treadmill in a gym if you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors that God gave us?  The trails around my house and neighborhood are peaceful, wonderful, relatively flat, and span several miles. The streets in the neighborhood offer countless different routes and a guarantee you'll see someone you know while on your run. There's really nothing NOT to love.


If you have ever been in Texas in the summer, you know it's pretty much like Hell on Earth. Even at 5am the humidity will hover at over 85% and the temp rarely dips below 75 degrees. It doesn't sound bad temperature-wise until you get about a mile into your run and realize you can't breathe and that's sweat dripping off your elbow.  It's enough to make even a hardcore runner take pause and realize it doesn't feel good at all. Sure, a runner can slog through it and get those miles in, but is it enjoyable?

Two years ago I signed Greg and I up for the Napa-to-Sonoma Half Marathon, which would take place in mid-July.  Temperatures at the race would probably be in the 50s and 60s, humidity hit or miss. Scenery: spectacular. Wine at the finish. A race meant for me and Greg to run together. Something I didn't really think too much about was TRAINING for said race. Training up until July in Texas. Doing a 12 mile run in 80 degrees, plus countless runs over 8 miles leading up to that. To put it bluntly, it was miserable. The race itself was pretty great, but I vowed that would be the last summertime half marathon I would ever train for in the hot Texas summer.

Last year I had a bout of exhaustion that derailed any quality summertime running. I struggled every time I was out there. I pretty much maxed out at 4 miles and it simply was not enjoyable for me at all.  I was typically running at a 9:45 pace or slower, whereas my usual training pace is 9:15-9:30.  I was dejected that I was getting slower and struggling so much.  My marathon training season pace really wasn't much better, although I was able to enjoy some cooler and more comfortable, albeit slower than usual, runs during the fall and winter.

I knew I needed to make a change this season if I wanted to maintain my running shape.  I had no choice but to embrace the dreaded TREADMILL, or as my running friends like to call it, THE DREADMILL.  *cue foreboding music here*

Up until my first day in my gym my longest treadmill run was 4 miles, plus I had done a 5 mile run with a walking break at 3.  I jumped right into my new routine, however, and was consistently posting 4 and 5 mile runs, and even a 10K, within the first month at the gym.  I do strength training and core work before my treadmill runs so I'm already slightly fatigued before I even start.  If someone, especially a dude, hops on the treadmill next to me, I usually crank up the speed and push myself more than usual.  After I missed a 10k race because of traffic, I immediately headed to the gym and got my frustrations out on the treadmill. I posted a 44-minute 5 mile run, which is almost my 10k race pace. I do speed interval workouts consistently so I can continue to push my pace. I'm running harder, faster, more efficiently, and I'm not dreading every single run.  I get to watch young buff dudes people during their workouts, or read the headlines on the TVs set up in front of the cardio equipment. I can sleep in later and not worry about how hot and sunny it's getting outside. If I want to run at 11am I can, when it's 95 degrees outside.

Today I posted my very first 10 mile non-stop treadmill run.  Well, almost non-stop.  You see, the treadmills at our gym max out at 60 minutes, so when that session was up (at 6.3 miles), I paused, took my shirt off (it gets warm in our gym! I still sweat a lot), reset the 'mill for another 3.7 miles and continued on my quest for double-digits.  I ran it in 1:34, which is 9:25 pace.  Last week I did 5 miles, then strength training, then another 5 miles for a total running time of 1:33, a 9:18 pace.  It's a huge difference from how I felt running long runs last year.

Last week Greg and I did a couple of short runs outside during late morning. I'm running a 5K on September 5 and a half marathon on October 9 so I do need to stay slightly acclimated to outdoor running.  It was already very hot when we started, but I just ran with what felt comfortable.  I rarely looked at my Garmin to check my pace, but when I did I was consistently seeing sub-9 minute pace, and it felt easy.  During the last mile of one of the runs, when I was definitely feeling the heat, I ended up running FASTER.  I absolutely attribute it to my treadmill runs.

Color me shocked....I AM LOVING THE TREADMILL.

1 comment:

  1. This borders on blasphemy. Lol! I hate the friggin' dreadmill. Way to embrace it!