Monday, February 7, 2011

winter running: treadmill survival

Have you seen that floating around the web? It's a visual representation of how SCREWED Boston has been this winter. Shaq's resemblance has helped us to realize that mother natures hates Boston/New England. Every winter we all complain about how it's the worst one yet but honestly I think this is it for me. I know that I'm normally all super dramatic but believe me when I say that this is the worst winter I've ever experienced. Oh, and a fun little addition -- it rained yesterday and instead of the snow melting it's just turned entire streets into sheets of ice. Fabulous!

Of course I didn't know that every day would be another snowpocalypse when I signed up for the Hyannis half marathon that's on February 27th. It's been so hard to train for this race - much harder than past half marathons. I'm dealing with the post-marathon blues as well as the city being buried under ice, snow and tears. The problem is that I hate running on the treadmill. HATE IT. The possibility of being on the treadmill for more than 3-4 miles makes me want to slam my head into the wall. However, this winter has forced me inside and I wanted to share some things that have made the dreadmill a little less torturous:

Mix it up!
If I get on the treadmill and tell myself that I have to run any particular distance it instantly becomes unbearable. Like, I want to cry after 6 minutes because I feel like I'm dying. However, I've had some pretty great interval runs in the last few months. Vary your speed, get on a "hill", whatever you prefer. It keeps me active and engaged in the run. Also, a few friends have suggested that I try a pyramid speed workout. That's on the list for things to try this week.

Easy listening:
How good of a workout I have is often directly linked to the music that plays on my shuffle. The small amount of memory on my shuffle forces me to continuously rotate my music so that I'm not bored. Current obsessions include: Girl Talk, the Tron soundtrack and Rihanna's S&M (this song is so amazingly bad ass). I've had less luck with podcasts, listening to books, and "watching" tv/movies on their ipods - but I know plenty of people who love it.

Mind games:
I'm sort of a competitive jerk. That being said - I like to stick myself on a treadmill behind someone whom I think would be of similar atheltic ability. And then I race them. I tell myself that I can't take a break until they do - or until they're done. I (try to) match my speed to theirs and pretend I'm actually racing them. I also play mind games in my head - naming objects or names with each letter of the alphabet. Oh, I'll also go through movies/plots in my head. Anything to keep me entertained and stop me from pitifully staring at the display on the treadmill. 

Utilize your math skills:
I find that it helps to mentally divide the distance. Breaking the run into smaller parts makes it seem a little less painful. That's why intervals work so well for me. Knowing that my run is made up of six 6-minute portions is much more manageable. It keeps my brain working and I'm less likely to get bored. It's also a fun way to compete with yourself - to see how each portion matches up to the one before it. Are you speeding up? Do you need to lighten up on the incline?

Tell me your tips for surviving the dreadmill - I want to hear it all! 


Anonymous said...

UGHHH the Dreadmill. I try to use all of the tips that you listed above and then sometimes I also change it up and will do 5 miles on one T-mill, 5 miles on another, just so I don't go COMPLETELY insane. Yes, this winter is INSANE...I can't stand it!

On a brighter note, I'm volunteering at the Hyannis Half and Full Marathon, so hopefully I might be able to meet you there!!

Tiffany said...

Okay, I totally do the same things! The trying to race the person next to me works well IF I accurately gauge his/her athletic ability. About two months ago I badly misjudged and almost died. I also do little tricks with the tv. Like "I'm going to run until this quarter is over" on a football game or "until someone scores 50 points" in the basketball game. Generally that works well, but I have learned that I HATE time-outs! I also did a funny thing while I was studying for the bar exam--I would take my flashcards for a topic and run until I got them all right. Some of my worse topics almost killed me! :)


Stephanie Anne said...

I am hating the mass snow too! i have the new orleans half this weekend and disney princess the 27th... so training has been treadmill for me too the last month or so.

I usually break it into .2 .... .2 is easy, I can handle that. I play with the speed up/down to keep me entertained. I listen to music, watch tv, scope out other people, whatever I can. Mostly I have to play with the buttons and promise myself starbucks after im finished!

Unknown said...

thanks for the input everyone!

kim- ah if you're at hyannis then we must meet up! i'll be at the luna booth before the race!

tiffany- i've seen people using flashcards on the treadmill. too bad i have nothing to study for right now!

steph- wow, two half marathons in one month? impressive!

Bamboo Cyclist said...

The treadmill has always been awesome for me. I can get on there with my favorite mix and run. I typically stick to the same mix so that I know when I need to pick it up and let the legs fly. Before I started my riding I would put between 7-10 miles a day on the treadmill then go for a 10 mile run with my dogs. For me it was just getting in the zone. Trying to watch tv while running was a death trap. I can't count how many times I thought I would fall off that dumb thing to my death. You can roll some good miles if there is a window in front of you or a mirror so you can see your reflection and keep an eye on your form, your head position and your hands. If you are looking for cross training in the myriad of snow piles you have, strap on some snow shoes and go for the gold. Great snow shoeing and cross country skiing that will help to take your mind off the snow and your car off the icy streets. Happy training and don't worry, you'll do awesome in your race at the end of the month.

Unknown said...

i am so incredibly jealous that the treadmill is such a pleasant experience for you. i wish i could feel what you feel, instead of dread and anxiety!