Friday, January 4, 2013

Avoiding the Treadmill

It's been hard to get outside to run at my preferred time, the very early morning. It's cold,truly cold (as in sub-zero until the sun's above the horizon), and the sidewalks are dicey. Not everyone shovels like they're supposed to.

I also was assigned a hard fartlek workout today for the first time since the California International Marathon. This one was 7 x 3 minutes at a high heart rate with a 90-second recovery after each interval. I've been doing shorter pick-ups embedded in easy runs, but this is the first one where speed has been the entire point.

It was tempting to do it on the treadmill at the YMCA we belong to here. It's warm there--I can wear shorts and a tank. And I don't have to worry as much about pace. If my heart rate drops below where it's supposed to be (this morning between 166 and 172), I just push that little pace up arrow and take care of it. Outside, I actually have to keep myself honest, and that's still hard for me when I'm running fast.

This time, I did not give in to temptation. I DID wait until late morning, when it's much warmer (above freezing), but I'm happy I soldiered outside and took care of it on a nearby bike trail.

Doing these kinds of runs outside whenever possible is, for me anyway, really important. The last few hard workouts I did before CIM were on the treadmill. Even though I always follow the conventional wisdom and set the incline to 1% to mimic outside conditions, something kept whispering to me that I wasn't getting as much out of it because I wasn't being responsible for my own pace. There's only one way to silence that voice, I think--get outside.

Now, I know I'm lucky to live where I do, and to work part-time. Yes, it's cold in the early morning, but at least while my kids are in school, I have a couple of mornings a week where I don't have to go out pre-dawn. This does cut into what I can do with the rest of my day (the laundry doesn't do itself), but I'm thinking I can use the pre-dawn time when I would run in warmer weather to do some of these household chores before the kids wake up. Then I can get them to school, do my run under the friendly Colorado sun...and still have time for things like more chores, paying bills and a nap before it's time to pick them up.

Today's run outside was gorgeous, and with each interval I gained confidence in my own ability to hold the necessary pace. Plus you couldn't beat the view of the snow-mantled mountains to the west.

What do you think? Am I being too paranoid about speedwork on the treadmill? I'm sure I'll still have to resort to it some this winter....I just want to minimize that.

15 comments:

  1. I try to get my chores done in the early morning this time of year too, I actually like it better, seems to give me the illusion more time when I have the hose cleaned before I run

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  2. There's actually an advantage to treadmill work providing faster leg turnover, that you can utilize outdoors racing. I don't see a problem with the treadmill; I have done tons of runs on mine in my basement :).

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  3. I was reading Chrissie Wellington's book and her coach actually assigned treadmill speed time to his elites.

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  4. Treadmills just don't replicate true conditions. I had similar issues so I decided to get up an hour early--not too run--but to work for an hour before I go to my job. That way I can run for longer after work in the afternoon when it's warmer.

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  5. raina_smalltownrunnerJanuary 5, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    Wait a second....you are still blogging? And it's 2013? :)

    That interval workout sounds hard. Half the rest time of the interval at high heart rate. I am not a big fan of the treadmill--and it's not just for speed work.

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  6. I head outside whenever possible..I am not a huge treadmill fan. I think that it is great when the weather is bad..lets you run when you probably wouldn't..but I agree that running outside really does keep you honest. No matter how you try to mimic outside running on a treadmill you never really can.

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  7. I don't think you are at all! The TM is easier! It's great for those few times that you truly cannot run outside - a blizzard or temps so low you risk frostbite. Better to brace the cold and get the speed work done - mental toughness, right?


    Happy New Year!

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  8. I love my treadmill - can't slack off during a speed workout! I do try to train outside 1/wk to try to learn pacing on my own, get road feel on my legs, etc. But my runs are oh-dark-hundred as well (before work), so the treadmill is what works for me. Of course, I own mine and don't have to leave the house. :)

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  9. I hear you! I actually like speedwork on the treadmill because I feel like I can push harder on the last repeats. But.. races are run outside so it's important to do some of your hard stuff outdoors too. I find a mix is good. I'm still hunting for a treadmill since quitting the gym, so lately it's all outdoors for me. I don't go out when it's icy and pitch dark for safety sake, so my running is suffering at the moment.


    Sounds like you still had a great workout. Good luck with household tasks early morning. I know it's harder for me to do laundry at 5 am than it is to go for a run. :-) Hope your household is all healthy and recovered from the Christmas illness!

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  10. I completely agree. That being aid, I loathe the dreadmill, so perhaps that's why. :D


    Great job getting out there and getting the speedwork done outside!

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  11. I agree with you, but I also think being able to switch between mill and outside builds mental strength. A 22 miler on the mill comes to mind. Much of my speedwork for my Boston cycles was done on the mill at 2 incline. It all worked out fine. This flatlander misses those beautiful CO mountains!

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  12. I do very little running on the TM (ok, I do very little running compared to most runners), so I don't worry about it if I do. It's funny that I read this, though, as I'm planning for my first speedwork run back in "training" to be on the treadmill at our Y. I love running outside, but right now I can only run on the weekends (my long runs) or in the dark. I don't mind the dark, but I'm paranoid of falling on the ice.


    There. I both didn't answer your question AND spent my comment talking about myself. :P So helpful. Nice job getting outside!!

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  13. I do a lot of speed work on the TM, but that is because of my schedule and work issues (I hate to run when its dark; or when its below 30 too). it is easier but certainly not easy. And you just cannot slack off like you can out doors. (If i get tired, I end up dropping pace outside. Not on the TM).



    if you are so inclined, i think nothing wrong with TM until spring.

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  14. I have no good answer for your treadmill question since I haven't done enough speedwork to know, but I really prefer running outside myself so I think your compromise (running later) sounds like a great idea. I do find that it's tough to do speedwork outside when the ground's snow- and ice-covered, plus you're always risking a fall. I'll run when it's really cold (-25 C is about my limit, which is about -13 F), as do lots of runners where I live, but I know my physio said to take it easy outside when it gets that cold because you can't really feel if there's a problem and you're more prone to injury.



    And thanks for your comments on my blog. Left a reply for you there.

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  15. I think that if you do it, you get credit for it, no matter where you do it. However, there is some satisfaction to doing it "by yourself"! I prefer going outside over doing it on the treadmill any day!

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