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.