Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Back on (the) Track

Since I got my new training plan from Coach Doug about two weeks ago, I have been a little bit nervous about the workout planned for today.  And, over the past 3-4 weeks I have been losing my sense of humor and patience with running on the treadmill. I ran several 100 mile weeks and many 80-90 mile weeks on the treadmill over the winter. I did long runs, tempo runs, and speedwork. I didn't complain (much) but the treadmill just feels so much harder to me than outside.

I am not a treadmill lover. I am very grateful for my treadmill, as where I live and with my schedule it just is not possible to train outdoors all year long. I could probably run outside all year, but tempo runs, goal pace miles, and track work just wouldn't happen - most runs would be slow, careful runs on ice and snow. So the treadmill lets me train how I want to when I wouldn't be able to otherwise, and for that I am grateful. But give me the option and I will run outside every single time. And that is 100x more true when we are talking about a long run, a tempo run, or speedwork.

I told myself that I WOULD run this workout outside, if there was any possible way. I decided I wouldn't care about the temperatures, and if the track was clear of ice and snow, I would be on it. Josh and the kids scoped it out for me yesterday at practice and with the exception of one tiny stretch, the inside three lanes were all crystal clear. (The outside lanes, shot put ring, and jump pits are all still under quite a bit of snow and ice.)

I left my house at 5:30am and drove to the high school. It was 17 degrees and still super dark, but stepping onto that track for the first time in MONTHS was still exciting. I did my warm up, drills, and strides and then got to work.

The workout was written as - 1x2000m repeat, 8x800m repeats, 1x2000m repeat. A little scary, right? I was confident I could and would do it, but I knew it would be tough. I had never done a 2000m repeat, and I definitely had never done one before and after a set of 800's. I was also a little worried about how I would do pacing myself since I had been doing my speedwork on the treadmill for so long. I decided to just focus on one section of the workout at a time, and not worry about what I had already done or what I had left to do. I told myself what I tell my kids all the time, "Your best is good enough."

It was a really good workout. I did the first 2000m in 7:50, then did the 8x800's in 2:56, 2:58, 2:54, 3:01, 2:57, 2:58, 3:00 and 2:59, and then did the final 2000m in 7:52, followed by my cool down routine.

This was a butt-kicker for sure. It was a long, hard workout. But it was awesome too, and it was a confidence builder.  It felt great to be on that track, even though it was really dang cold and the wind picked up during the end of the 800's. My face was numb for a good hour after I got back home and my throat was grouchy. I can't wait to be out there without three layers of clothes and a headlamp on. :)

I am completely exhausted (and will be in bed shortly), but not too sore. I am really happy with how good I feel. I have said it before and I will say it again, there is nothing like the feeling at the end of a tough track workout, especially one that scared you a little before you started.  Yes, my best was good enough.

I am hoping to be able to do all of my running outside now. It's looking good for my tempo run and my 20 miler this week.

Sometimes I read other blogs by runners who live in mild climates and have other runners to do workouts with (how grand would that be?) and I have serious envy, but then I figure that all those hours on the treadmill, all the runs in the dark and cold, and pushing through tough workouts all alone, will only make me a tougher runner.

How about you? Are you a treadmill lover? Hater? Do you love the track? Do you do your workouts alone or with other runners?

"There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be." - George Sheehan 

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it." - Oprah Winfrey  

"Tough times don't last but tough people do." - A.C. Green  


Amy N. said...

That is a TOUGH workout! Way to go! Looks like your splits were pretty consistent too!

Too bad you can't just come up and hang out with my group for speed workouts! We have so much fun and it's way easier with friends and your coach right there.

But when it comes to those moments in the marathon where even though you're surrounded by runners you feel alone, you will be so mentally tough from all those workouts alone and on the treadmill.

Holly K-N said...

Way to kick some workout butt out there!

I was never much of a treadmill runner (and I do think the same pace feels harder on the treadmill than the road) - but now that I live in the tropics, I'm thankful for the treadmill. Maybe it's because I'm not FORCED onto it (the roads are always clear, and I live in an incredibly safe city), so when I opt to run on the treadmill, it's always a definite CHOICE (not because it's dark, icy, snowy, slippery, whatever). The option to run outdoors is there, if I'm willing to accept the heat, humidity, sun, and demands of rehydration/re-salt-ing. Often, I am. But sometimes, I'm not. Then - and only then - the treadmill and air conditioning are a very welcome tool!

TRAINlete said...

A realistic and colorful article which gave me many ideas.Great representation!
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coach dion said...

I love the track for sessions, and that is a big one, bigger than I would ever give you!!!

What sort of rest are you having?

and on the track what shoes are you useing? track shoes are your road shoes?

PS it's good to see you flying again...

Karen Orozco said...

I'm so ready for spring! (Hi, btw, I have been reading and inspired by you, but this is my first time responding) I don't HATE the treadmill, but probably because my mileage isn't up to very long runs just yet. I suspect my hate for it will build next winter when I have longer runs. I prefer being outside and I am SO ready for it to warm up and dry up!

Mark Matthews said...

I'm a solitary runner, other than the occasional shoe store sponsored long run, and I have fully bonded with my treadmill. I've created a multi-media experience that satisfies my ADHD brain while I run. Given the choice, I'll still take outside. And there's a track exactly .5 miles from my front door that I frequent.

SWMom said...

You continue to be such a source of motivation when I read about your training! I'm daunted by my first 8 miler this weekend, as I'm training for my first 1/2 marathon.

I didn't love treadmills before, but now that I have my new C900 at home, it really helps me fit runs in when my husband works late and travels (I have a 3 year old daughter). I also prefer to run outside or even on the local track. Best wishes to you as you continue your amazing training!!

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Um that's kinda fast girlie! And consistent! I am so proud of you for that super cold outdoor training session :) you ROCK. Proud of you for hanging in there, day in and day out. You never cease to inspire...

Amy Lauren said...

I like running with a group on long runs so I have conversation (helps me run at a conversational pace) and sometimes, there are people in my group faster than me so they push me, or I could run with someone else and help them or just chat. It's more of a social thing though. If I want to do a seriously workout, I usually do it by myself (unless my run club decides to go to the track, which isn't a bad thing).

Doing all those runs definitely helps you! You are building mental toughness on the 'mill. Glad it's warming up a little there for you so you can get outside though.

L.A. Runner said...

Thank GOODNESS for getting off the treadmill. Very, very nice workout, especially in those temps and wind. This is a question regarding track in the dark- are you able to look at your watch throughout the workout? Whenever I hit the track when it's dark, I am not able to see the time clearly (even with indiglo). I always have to wait until the repeat is over to check it. That's fine for shorter repeats, but for something like 1200 and up, seeing the time throughout would be helpful.

Jill said...

I share many of the same sentiments as you and we have a lot in common living in this cold snowy place! One thing I do like about the treadmill is that it is pretty much the only time I watch TV. I record shows that I want to see and watch them during easy or long runs.

Christina Williams said...

Yay for getting outside on the track and I agree - these early mornings, solitude runs, and treadmill workouts bring in a mental toughness aspect. I am with you there on that love/hate of the treadmill but know where I live it is a necessity, otherwise training from Jan-March would become somewhat problematic with the icy roads. I've been envious lately of all the Texas runners, but I won't be envious here soon as their heat and humidity kicks in, ha ha! Fortunately everything is melting for me after our midwest freakish Spring Blizzard so I should be outside (praying!!!) for the 20 miler.

Kayla said...

I would be losing my sense of humor about the treadmill too - and I don't run nearly as many miles as you do!!
I used to be a strictly outdoor runner, because I don't own a treadmill and didn't belong to a gym. I live in the south so I could run outside most of the time though it's harder to run outdoors in the summer than it is in the winter, due to air pollution and oppressive humidity. I joined a gym last summer because I was recovering from an injury and needed to cross-train. I have always avoided the treadmill whenever possible, but lately I have been having to run at 5:30 am and I have opted to run on the 'mill instead of outside at that hour. If I break my treadmill run up into tempo sections followed by a recovery, it goes SO much faster! And, two mornings ago I was on the treadmill at the gym to do five fast miles, and just as I was almost done, a certain extremely handsome Oscar-nominated Australian movie star who is filming a movie in my town and who has been working out at my gym, got on the treadmill directly in front of me!!! I really needed to get home and get my kids up for school, but how often was I going to be able to stare at this person's butt and very muscular shoulders from three feet away? THAT extra mile and a half I ran went by much faster than I would have liked! ;-)

chrisbikeman said...

Awesome running! I really enjoy reading your blog. You are a great writer!

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

What a tough run and great job getting it done!

I am a treadmill runner out of necessity. I aim to run before work, but have been slacking recently, so I hit the TM versus running dark roads solo. I know some do it. I am just too nervous to run in the dark alone in the wee hours of the morning. I also have a TM at home for any PM runs. I used to put darling daughter in the jogging stroller and run outside more. It was tough. I miss it. But I just don't do it much now because I feel guilty strapping her in for her to sit still while I run. I feel like I am taking away her exercise time.

I do love running outdoors and with the training schedule I set up for myself, dear hubby will need to take over some more childcare so I can run longer on the weekends outside.

Suz and Allan said...

Great job on a tough run! I'm a wimp with cold weather so you have my respect for getting out there and toughing it out in the cold to get your run in.

Hanneke said...

Erin, I do think of you when I am running on my treadmill knowing that there are others who have to do this by themselves.

I am from Chicago but live in northern Canada for the 3rd winter now. There are NO runners where I live and it gets to be -40F in winter. I have a at least another month to go on the treadmill yet :)

monicac2 said...

I think too much of anything can lead to burnout (although I acknowledge that many runners never get burnt out on running outdoors). I am thankful for the treadmill option. As a runner with rheumatoid arthritis (and frankly, even aside from that), sometimes I just crave the ease of the treadmill. One thing is certain, whether it's outdoors or indoors, I hate/fear/dread speedwork - so hats off to you on your workout!

Mommy Run Fast said...

Wow! What an intense workout, and you nailed it!! I'm so glad you can get outside more these days... I agree that the treadmill feels a lot harder. But I'm hoping to get one next year, when we're back to a climate with winter. It's definitely nice to have that option!

Julie said...

I love that you have had to rely on the treadmill just as much as I do lately. That gives me inspiration, because I've always kind of felt like I was cheating a little bit by using the treadmill so much (because it sets the pace for me). Given the choice, I'd much rather run outdoors, but since this mama isn't often given the choice, it's nice to see that the treadmill can still be used to push me to be a better runner. I do agree, however, that it helps to create mental toughness!