Rise of the Machine: My Treadmill Experiment
It’s 75F out there today [Note: That meant last Thursday, FYI.], you guys! You have no idea how excited I am that the weather is coming back to the normal Californian winter after the “Big Freeze” we had this past week. This means I can get back outside to run again.
While I saw many runners hitting the road through the cold snap, I retreated indoors to the gym. It’s not the cold that was the problem for me. I’m well equipped to run in the chilly 50s. But it’s the dry conditions that mess with my sinuses.
The last time I went on a run outdoors was just over two weeks ago, after the rain cleared and the weather was getting crisp. I hadn’t realized how windy and dry it was until my sinuses started to burn about two-thirds of the way in. Every breath felt like I was filling my face with shards of glass. I walked for a while before the pain subsided. And of course, a bout of sinus infection followed.
If that is not enough incentive for me to pay for a day-pass to a gym, I don’t know what is.
And I have to tell you, running on the treadmill has spoiled me rotten. You see, I was able to complete the 5K Lap program in 45 minutes. I felt like a champion when I stepped off the machine! I even bragged about it all over Facebook when I did it the second time.
A weather weenie that I am, I haven’t been able to run that distance or in that time since the temperature dipped below 60. It was quite a feat to have done it on the treadmill. I was super gung ho when I went out the door this morning.
Alas, after a week of being pampered on a cushiony and propelling treadmill, a mile felt like a million. Every step was sluggish. My breathing became ragged after only 10 minutes. Keeping my mind focused on running took extra effort. (Y’all know about my mental struggle with running.) I gave up at 2 miles because my chest started to tighten. It appeared that my lungs had grown accustomed to perfect temperatures and the humidity of an air conditioned room.
I’m absolutely deflated. How bad am I at this running business? I can’t even get the mileage in! What a wuss.
But in the middle of hurling insults at myself, I realized a few good things I can be proud of from these past weeks.
First of all, I did not stop training when the conditions were not optimum (to my taste). This surprised my husband quite a bit as well. He had expected to find me bundled up on the couch on a cloudy and cold day, but instead I went to the gym to get my run in.
And finally, because my training is still on schedule, my performance has not suffered too much. I felt like I could’ve done better, but 2 miles isn’t too bad the first day back on the road.
Sure, treadmill running softens your edges a little. It could also be boring despite the television right in front of you. (There is only so much CNN or sitcom reruns you can watch!) But judging by recommendations from my long-time runner friends and some online research (here and here), the treadmill is actually a good place to build your stamina. You can run faster and harder on the treadmill than you can on the street. You can rev up the speed or slow down to whatever interval you’d like to do. Running speed intervals on the treadmill will help me break that 10-15 minute threshold, some friends insist.
I will definitely have to give the gym another try. Meanwhile, they have enough of my money for the month.
See you around on the road!