Monday, March 4, 2019

A Treadmill Catharsis


I guess I've had a meeting of the minds with Milly.

You all know who Milly is, right? She's the treadmill that lives in our mudroom. She and I are not exactly the best of friends.

I think I have come to a catharsis on the relationship she and I share, though.

There's no need to elaborate on the winter we've experienced in Iowa this year. Let's just suffice it to say that this outdoor runner has been stuck inside, with Milly, far more than ever before. The temps have been in the single digits (often times with sub-ZERO feels-like conditions). It's been windy, there's been record-breaking snow, and an abundance of ice.

Due to my work schedule, the bulk of my runs happen in the wee hours of morning, when it's still dark outside. Not exactly safe running conditions, given the above-mentioned weather reality.

Recently, in an attempt to get my runs with Milly over and done, I have been making them progressive runs...where each mile is a little faster than the previous ones. It's kind of an empowering move on my part, because it makes me feel like I'm winning the battle of getting the run(s) done without quitting early. And, I'm getting them done quicker than if I'd just kept the same boring pace for the duration of the time on the 'mill. 

Did I mention that my treadmill is almost as old as my youngest child? Yes, Milly is 18ish years in age, a legal adult, so to speak. Not sure what that translates to in human years.  She does not have any modern bells or whistles and no fancy monitor or advanced settings. She's also rather loud, so even if we had a television nearby, it would be difficult to hear it.

Even more recent, I've also (on occasion) been adding 400-meter surges at the end of each mile. Ha ha! That makes those miles even less painful because they seem like shortened miles (1200 meters, instead of 1600) and those 400m surges are kind of like a quick interlude between those shortened miles. Obviously, this kind of a run could be considered an interval workout or (gasp!) a speed drill....but I'm choosing to simply call it a coping strategy, a means to get those (indoor) treadmill runs over and done.

Monday, after work, I had another such run with Milly. Most of my Monday runs are short, usually only 2-3 miles. They're not intended to be anything more than just an easy-paced run to kick start the new week. As I was lacing my shoes, the idea crossed my mind to do a 4-mile run, which would be my longest #nevermissaMonday run ever. Once the idea made its appearance, I couldn't let it go.

Instead of just doing the "shortened" (1200 m) miles (also with the 400m surges), I decided to test the waters a bit and ALSO increase the pace with each mile. I wasn't prepared for what happened....as each mile got a little faster, the run seemed a little easier. The 400m surges got progressively faster with each mile as well, yet they didn't feel like they were requiring any extra effort on my part. 

Granted, my body was thoroughly warmed up after the first two miles, but those final two miles felt good. Great, actually. Inside, on the treadmill, none the less. In fact (dare I say it?), I enjoyed an indoor run with Milly! When I finished that fourth mile, I think I had a small taste of runner's high. From the treadmill!

Hmmmmm, how did that happen????

My hunch is that this "coping strategy" of mine has morphed into something else. It's been building my speed (ever so slightly) and increasing my endurance for sustaining a faster pace for longer periods of time. 

Don't think for a minute, though, that I have a new found love for Milly. Although Monday's run was not an all-out effort, it still was quite challenging. It felt like my body was working a lot harder than it did at my "speedy" 5K a couple weeks ago, and I ran that 5K at a much faster pace. Somehow, treadmill runs always feel much harder than outdoor runs, even with the aid of the belt to keep me moving.

So, my catharsis? Even though I'd MUCH rather be outside, I guess these indoor runs are serving me well. Monday's run was my 18th treadmill run of 2019. Believe me, that's a huge record number of runs with Milly in such a relatively short time span (less than two months). There's no way they would have happened if the weather would have been more cooperative. So, maybe that's a second catharsis? Nah....don't think for a minute that I want winter to stick around any longer, either. I'd still rather be outside!

 How do you feel about treadmill runs? Love them? Hate them? Love to hate them? Tolerate them, just barely? Any coping strategies you use to make your treadmill runs more bearable?

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34 comments:

  1. If nothing else, it's nice to have the option. So many people who don't own treadmills and don't belong to a gym haven't been able to run at all this winter!

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    1. So true!!! I am not a Milly fan, but without her taunting me in the mudroom, there would have been a lot of missed runs in the past two months.

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  2. Bless the mill! Given a choice, of course I'd be outside but like you I work out at early o'clock and the mill is really the only way to get it done. I always have a good TV show to watch. I listen to the audio on my airpods.

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    1. My fear of watching tv is that I'd lose focus on my form...I'm always paranoid about stubbing my toes LOL

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  3. Interesting stuff and I'm glad you've come to terms with having Milly in your life. We have some Millies in the gym but I only use them to march up steep slopes as running on them does not suit me. Love your pics, as ever!

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    1. ha ha...I don't know if I can say treadmill running suits me, but I'm trying to just be tolerant. The monotony of the strides wears on my hips if I don't pay attention. My body needs the variation of terrain....

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  4. I would rather be outside, too, unless it's my umpteenth bitterly cold,slushy,windy run. Which it seems it constantly is lately. Plus most of my runs are pretty short right now. If I didn't have a tv, like you, however, I know i would really struggle with treadmill runs.

    I think where people really get into trouble is with all the "cute" names they have for their treadmill: dreadmill, satan's sidewalk -- it's a self fulfilling prophecy. Tell yourself you at the very least tolerate it, and your brain will. In some ways our brains are stupid!

    I also agree that speedwork is easier to bear than easy runs (of a certain length, I'm kind of loving 2 miles right now). And I also believe that it's kinder to our bodies -- in small doses.

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    1. Well, I am guilty of referring to Milly as the "indoor beast" (as well as numerous other less-than-flattering names). I'm trying to keep my glass half full....I'm a lot better at that these days than in the past LOL

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  5. I would rather run outside, but for safety reasons, I hit the treadmill more often than outdoors, especially in the Winter. I like that you do progressive runs to switch things up - I will try that too.

    I don't know why, but this line made me LOL "Yes, Milly is 18ish years in age, a legal adult".

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    1. I HAVE to do the progressive runs and speed surges to break up the monotony. I think I have been doing my runs too "slow" on the 'mill. I know that sounds crazy, but the medium/slightly faster paces feel more comfortable with Milly.

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  6. What a great way to look at it. I agree with The Accidental Marathoner -- it's a good option even if it isn't one we prefer.
    And yes, button fiddlign can be necessary

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    1. I never thought I'd actually be grateful for Milly LOL This winter has been a piece of work!

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  7. There was a time in which I did a lot of runs in the treadmill and actually enjoyed them. I would run miles and miles on it. I would pass time by listening to music and watching TV shows. Now? I'd much rather run outside but would definitely run in it now. This weather is just impossible, right?

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    1. My entire first year of running was mostly on the treadmill (I guess because I didn't know any better LOL). I just don't like it anymore. Yes, I can tolerate it, but even that's getting kind of sketchy given all the miles I've logged inside this winter. This winter has really been brutal!

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  8. The only way I can survive a treadmill run without falling over from boredom is to do some kind of interval workout. So it's a good thing I live where I do or I'd be doing speed work daily! I'm glad you've figured out a way to make your treadmill runs more tolerable.

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    1. That very thought crossed my mind this morning! My treadmill runs are getting to be more speed-driven, and that's not a good thing so often. Monday's run was pretty intense, so I thought I'd better keep this morning's run more easy-paced....in other words b.o.r.i.n.g. I had to call it at 4.5 instead of the usual 5 miles because my mind had totally checked out of the game LOL

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  9. Not only I am super impressed by how you have embraced Milly but you do it without tv distraction! I am sure it's made you a much stronger runner

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    1. oh, not sure I'd go so far to say I have "embraced Milly" LOL I have gotten more tolerant of her, but I still think she's a beast to be reckoned with ;-)

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  10. Even though the treadmill can be boring sometimes, there is a ton of versatility with it and you can really mix up your workouts! I'm not surprised that you've been making the most of your time with Milly! I really wish I had a treadmill at home!

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    1. I am trying to make my Milly runs versatile, because they are so boring! A treadmill run once in awhile is manageable, but not for almost every run over the course of two months. UGH!!!

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  11. Glad to hear you are finding some love for "Milly." I don't mind the treadmill so much especially when it is just nasty outside.

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    1. My body does not do well on the treadmill, and I have been on it far too much this winter. I'm starting to feel it in my knees because the strides are so repetitive. I do much better outside LOL

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  12. This totally depends on the day for me. Some days I don't mind the treadmill at all and others I feel like I'm going to die if I have to run on the treadmill. I try to make the treadmill as exciting as possible. I do my speed workouts on there so I can switch the speed around to make it more interesting or I save my favorite podcast for those runs. Sometimes I'll watch a show or something. But most of the time I can get through a treadmill run ok.

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    1. Usually, I can handle a treadmill run because it's just a once-in-a -while thing. Not this winter LOL

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  13. I struggle with treadmills. Shorter intervals runs are the only ones I can face doing on one.

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    1. I am not really a fan of the treadmill, either. I have long legs, and it's just an awkward thing for me...I keep thinking I'm gonna stub my toes and face-plant.

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  14. I appreciate this so much! I don't usually treat my entire run as a progression run on the 'mill, but I definitely do for my last mile. I like this surge idea, too. I'll have to borrow!!

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    1. I started doing the progressive runs about 10 runs ago LOL. Not a huge increase in speed...maybe increments of .2 every 1/2 mile or so. The 400m surges are my favorite, though, because they make those 1200's seem so short ;-)

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  15. I have pretty much the opposite to your never miss a Monday... It just works out with our family schedule that I purposefully take off every Monday.. I haven't run on a Monday yet in 2019 :)
    - Marc

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    1. I got in the routine of doing a short Monday run a few years ago. It jump-starts my week. I don't usually make them into speed workouts like I did in the one I referenced above; rather a short shake-out run.

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  16. I think you've done a lot of growing as a runner this winter, compliments of mother nature. In my experience as a coach many "tough winter warriors" are outside because they lack the mental tenacity to gut it out on the treadmill. This season you've done just that AND you've reaped the rewards. Awesome!

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    1. Thanks, so much!!! That means a lot coming from you ;-) Now, is it asking too much to just get back outside, just for SOME of these runs? ;-) Pretty please, with extra sugar?

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  17. Glad to hear that you and Milly have come to a better understanding ;) Haha
    I am also glad you are being smart and staying inside on the cold and dark mornings!

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  18. Runner's high from a treadmill? You go girl!

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