Saturday, March 3, 2012

Treadmill - torture or treasure?

I have gotten a lot of questions and comments about my treadmill running/mileage so here is a post on the topic.

(You can read about how I "accidentally" bought our treadmill here.)

Let me start by saying that I have a love-hate relationship with the treadmill. I hate it because it's miserable for me to run on. I would much, much rather run outside.  For me, the miles go by faster outside, the time goes by more quickly outside, and paces feel easier outside. When I am outside I feel like I am free. When I am running indoors the kids can still need me, the phone still rings, etc. etc. etc.

And yet I live in the Rocky Mountains, where we have snow and icy roads continually for months every year. I don't mind snow or rain or cold at all, but icy roads are a deal breaker for me. If I was able to run in the afternoons I would probably be able to get more runs done outside year round, but since I have to run very early in the morning, and in the winter it is very dark, very cold, and very icy in the mornings, it is just not safe. On the icy roads it is very tough, if not impossible, to get a good tempo run or any type of speed work done, and to me, the risk of slipping and injuring myself is not worth it with all the work I am putting in to training for Boston. So I love the treadmill because it allows me to get my runs in and my marathon training done during the winter time.

Yes, last month I ran 307 miles. From my calculations, all but 14 of those miles were on my treadmill. It's not ideal. It's not my first choice. But it gets the job done and is letting me train for Boston through a cold, icy winter. I am hoping to get at least my last month of marathon training before Boston fully outdoors. Once the ice is gone, I won't touch the treadmill again until next winter.

I do think that running outside is best (especially for me) but I do also think that the treadmill is a good and effective alternative when needed. Here are some pieces of evidence to back that up from this article about training on a treadmill for a marathon.
  • Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen at one time held the world record in the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters, half-marathon and marathon. She won the London Marathon four times, Boston twice and New York once. A treadmill often was her best friend.
  • Colorado's Kim Jones, twice runner-up at Boston and New York City, avoided ice-caked roads by running indoors.
  • Chris Clark, the United States' lone woman at the Sydney Olympics, who set PRs at both the Trials and the Olympic Games, did half of her training on a treadmill. "I work out in the morning on the days I go to work," says Clark, 39. "There's no way I'm going out in the cold when it's 5:30 in the morning, five degrees and pitch black."
 My friend Jill asked, "So be honest...do you ever get really sick of the treadmill? Do you have your moments when you just want to stop a run early?

Ummmmm, YES. I get very, very sick of the treadmill, especially lately when I am running high mileage in the middle of a tough marathon training schedule, and have been stuck on the treadmill for several months. I have plenty of moments where I just want to be done and stop a run early. BUT, I don't. I haven't ever - not even once. I always finish what I start, and it is important to me to do my workouts and complete my training to the best of my ability. You got to do what you got to do, right?

To keep myself from going completely nuts I usually watch movies/tv on my laptop while I run, or listen to music. If I am doing a steady paced run, it sometimes helps to cover up the screen instead of watching the mileage. (On that note, I have a 23 miler coming up this week and am desperate for some good movie ideas!)

Someone else asked about incline. I always run with the treadmill at an incline of 1 for my runs, unless I am doing hill repeats or something like that.
 
Here are a couple of pics of me on my treadmill. These are from last year.

Notice the dirty ladder? Here is what I wrote over a year ago. (The ladder is still there).

"Do you like my redneck solution for watching TV while I run on the new 'mill? My old treadmill had a book stand on it that my laptop slipped right into. It was super convenient for watching DVDs while I ran. The new treadmill doesn't have anything to hold the laptop (and it is REALLY tall). I asked Josh to come up with a solution, temporary or permanent, that would let me watch the laptop on my long treadmill runs and he was zero help. In a moment of self-proclaimed brilliance, I trudged through the snow out to the garage and dragged in the ladder. Ta da! It is the perfect height, and I can even plug the laptop into the treadmill and here my shows right over the treadmill sound system. PRETTY COOL. Josh came in and looked at the ladder and said, "You know that has like, paint and bird poop on it right?" and I said, "Yeah, but isn't it the perfect temporary solution? Aren't I brilliant?" and he laughed and said, "YOU, who can't stand dirt or mess is ok with a dirty ladder in the play room?" So I shot him a look and told him to get to building a shelf. Until then, the dirty ladder stays."



Do you run on a treadmill?  If yes, do you do so by choice or by necessity? Do you love it or hate it? Ever trained for a marathon mostly indoors?

18 comments:

Suz and Allan said...

I started running on the treadmill so I don't mind it as much as I thought I would. I would much rather be outside though unless it's freezing cold or 100% humidity.

Lacey Sue said...

Living in Utah- I have a similar problem- the icy, snowy, COLD roads/outside for months. Sadly, this means I forbear my precious outside runs for the dreadmill. Am I thankful for it? You bet! A run, is a run. I am thankful for the chance to continue training even during the winter....
Do I like it? No way, no how. I hate running on the treadmill- especially since my only option is to use the ones at the gym...*sigh* oh well!

Sameera said...

I am a practicing Muslim woman and i have to run indoors for religious reasons. So i have run on the treadmill ALL MY LIFE! LOL! can you believe that?! I trained for 2 half marathons on it too! (ran them indoors on the treadmill as well). But I agree it does get very broing sometimes...specially during the long runs and thats when i put on some good shows on the laptop to watch...i use my ironing board to keep the laptop on, meh, it works but i TRULY love you ladder idea! Im gonna drag the ladder in tomorrow! You look super in the second pic :) Always keep smiling!

christa said...

I do not the like treadmill at all. I might do better if I could watch movies or tv on it....I'm sooo thankful VT's winter has been so mild that I have been able to run outside most of the time.

Mark Matthews said...

I did 15 on a treadmill on Saturday, and I think they are a great tool. Outside is always better, and it makes me feel a bit more couragous and refreshed venturing outside in 10 degree snowy weather. But if given the choice of no run, or a treadmill run, then there's no choice. I have a DVR and all sorts of old shows to watch, and have also used my kindle with really, really big font and read. Putting a towel over the time and distance so you can't see each click really helps. Netflix streaming, or something you can watch while listening to music,

Rene' said...

I use my treadmill all of the time. In NH when it snows/ice I am not going out and killing myself. don't get me wrong I love being outside, but I would be miserable without my treadmill.

Jill said...

I've do a ton of treadmill running (hello 21.4 miler last weekend. haha)....I actually don't mind it and have done many marathon training on the thing (Boston '09 training was so snowy and I'm a big baby of the cold so treadmill it was. I raced Boston very well that year, btw! :)). Mostly though, I like it for intervals and hills because it keeps my pace honest and I can't slow down!

I love your ladder solution, perfect....bird poop and all! :)

Terzah said...

Treadmills are a mixed blessing, for sure. I have to drive to the rec center to use one, which is another strike against it for me. I'm lucky the winter here has been relatively mild (compared to last year) and I've needed it much less often. But on the days where I have needed a treadmill I've been very grateful to have the option.

Amanda@runninghood said...

I think we might have the same treadmill. What one is that? I suppose if I click on your link I could find this out. I will have to try the ladder thing. Yes, treadmill running is MOST of my running except my long runs and weekend runs. It gets the job done.

Caroline said...

I am not traiing for marathons but for me the hardest part on the TM is mental.

I have to use it more in the summer when it is too hot here and when the boys are off school. I dont have a TM at home, I go to the gym and there is no TV...well they have some but no volume!
So I get bored after 2 miles....and then it becomes a real struggle to stay on

Kristin Miller said...

I began running on a treadmill. Then I discovered outdoor running. If I do a morning workout before work, until about May, I have to run indoors (It's not safe running in pitch black 5am no man's land in NYC). I would probably use it more if my gym wasn't so hot in the afternoon, so I tend to run in FRIGID temps to avoid a hot sticky gym. Needless to say, all my snow days from school have a treadmill portion at the gym while the plow trucks get their acts together!!!

Jill said...

Thanks for answering my question! I also have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill, although sometimes on really blustery cold days I find myself really looking forward to it. Or if I have a TV show I've been waiting to watch, since that's the only time I watch TV. But almost 300 miles in a month? That's some dedication! I'm really looking forward to see how your training pays off.

Christina said...

I trained on the treadmill for a half. The long runs were done partly outside and then, finished on the treadmill

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

Yep, I train most of the time of the treadmill out of necessity. 4 am on the roads alone doesn't sound or feel smart to me and other runs are at on my home treadmill...trying to run while taking care of darling daughter.

I have successfully trained for multiple half's and a marathon this way. Totally love running outside better but a mom has to do what a mom has to do.

~R said...

E- I give you Treadmill Fartlek ~R

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTAAsCNK7RA

Abby Anderson said...

I want to start running again, maybe a marathon, but I've always been a 5k kind of girl. I go crazy when my mind is unoccupied, running gives you all that thinking time and that drives me nuts lol! But soon, maybe I will.

portia said...

I am very VERY lucky - I picked this winter to train for a spring marathon and I live near Boston, which in some years means lots of treadmill running. But this year I have only run on the treadmill twice. On one short run last week (4mi) I *should* have run on the treadmill but was pigheaded and ran outside, and my feet were soaked with cold icy slush every few steps. Sometimes the treadmill is the right thing to do. It's very tough for me mentally but it's better than slush puddles and ice! :)

Stephanie said...

Oh gosh! You are so so strong. I do hate running on the treadmill but am so so thankful for mine. We have a tv hooked up to the wall but I LOVE your ladder solution. Genius! Ice is a total deal breaker for me. I could not agree more!