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Beat the Heat with a Treadmill

July 26, 2010

Dedicated readers know that I was supposed to get up at 6am on Saturday morning to get my long run out of the way without subjecting myself to hazardous conditions.  I am happy to report that I was up at 6am. However, I must also report that I arose and thought to myself, “What the %&$^ are you doing?” and I went immediately back to sleep. Well. Wait. In all honesty, I had another thought before I went back to sleep and that was, “Why are you getting up at 6am to run outside when you can sleep late and just run on the treadmill?” THEN I fell asleep.

I am now learning that there are benefits to having a running history. You see, in January, when my region was struck with a blizzard that it hadn’t seen in decades, I was at the peak of my training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I was a winter running newbie at the time, so when the snow came and brought everything to a halt, it took my training program with it. For a few days, I bummed around; basically crippled by the snow. But you can only go so many days astray from a training program (and blame it on the snow) before it negatively affects all the hard work you had done previously. Fortunately, right before all my conditioning started to suffer, my hubby suggested: Just suck it up and go run on the treadmill.

Wait. I just realized … I have to go back further for you to understand …

If you have read my “About the Runner” page, you’ll recall that I started my running on the treadmill at a local gym in the wee, early, morning hours. For more than 6 months – that’s all I did. Then, when I felt like I hit a peak and I was bored, I joined a boot camp class. All I can say is “Boot Camp” should have been called “Butt Camp” because it really whipped my hiney – both physically and theoretically – into shape. To start, the trainer would make us run to the local track which was about .75 miles from the gym. Now, the first time I ever took this class and ran to the local track, was also the first time I ever ran outside. How did it go? Not good. I was the second to last person in the pack, panting, heart pounding through my neck and all I could think was, “I’m going to die. I’m going to have a heart attack right here and die. I’m a spring chicken compared to some of these folks, but for the life of me, I can’t even keep up. They’re going to wonder how the hell a 20-something chick – who looks like she’s in shape – died.”

Anyway, I’m very stubborn and have no patience for pity parties, so at the time, I had two goals: learn to run outside and learn to like it. And – over another year – that’s exactly what I did.

Now here’s where it comes together: When you learn how to run outside and you come to appreciate why it’s a great thing, you unintentionally create a hate for treadmills. I truly believe this.

The first time I stepped back on a treadmill – after months of running outdoors – I felt like a hamster. I felt suffocated. I felt like my feet were not free. And I banned it until I could avoid it no more: The Blizzard of 2010.

So, now, back to the blizzard …The first few days of my treadmill runs at that time sucked. Royally. In fact, from that experience I learned I have a 6 mile maximum distance on a treadmill. Anything after that, and I go crazy (with tv, without tv, with music, without music; it doesn’t matter). But I learned something else too: you can’t let the weather be an excuse. And you can’t let it get it in the way. After a few days of some 4 or 5 mile runs, I did begin to remember why I enjoyed the treadmill so much. I mean, at the end of the day, I was moving and sweating and pretty much doing my own thing. It was very zen. So I stopped hating the treadmill so much and I filed it in my memory for a rainy day.

So when this past Saturday’s temperatures were signaling high alerts and I was dreading a 6am wake-up, I was glad to have the memory that the weather doesn’t control me and a treadmill can be a friend. Had it not been for my previous training experience of dealing with mother nature, I don’t know if I would have quickly recalled a solution to my new running enemy: getting up early.

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