6 TREADMILL MILES // SUNDAY FUNDAY
The rain has a way of ruining your plans for a 7-8 mile long run on a chilly Sunday morning.
Initially, I just assumed that the rain would be outta here by the time I was ready to take off at 5:20 a.m. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately…I’m still not sure), that was not the case and I had to attempt to befriend the treadmill for a few miles this morning. I went into this run planning on just going for 60 minutes…however far that ended up being was 100% fine with me. I haven’t ran on the treadmill in a while, the last time was October 8th (and of course that was “only” a 3 mile run). I had no plan for distance or pace or what I would do when things got tough mentally.
Over my many, many treadmill runs, I have learned quite a few tips and tricks on how to survive and sometimes even thrive while running on this dreaded machine. First and foremost, is to NEVER GO OUT TOO FAST. This is super tempting given the fact that each and every time you adjust your speed, the treadmill will flash your average pace per mile in front of your face, almost challenging you to run faster and faster until you fly off said treadmill and end up injuring yourself. Thankfully, today I was able to start my 6 mile run out nice and easy with a 9:45 mile.
Perhaps the absolute worst thing about running on a treadmill at 5 a.m. is staring down your own reflection the entire time.
Mentally, if messes with you more than you can possibly imagine. All I could think during those first few miles was, “WOW! My form is complete crap right now and I have no clue how to fix it or how on earth I am going to last for 6 (or more) miles.” Simultaneously, I found myself being hyper aware of every single pain that my body was experiencing while getting reacquainted with treadmill running. From the very first mile, when I was only running at 6.2 mph, my pelvis hurt. In retrospect, that probably had a lot to do with how bad my form was. Then all of a sudden my left shin started flaring up…and by the 3 mile mark I was dealing with side stitches.
All of these factor combined had me wanting to cut this run short countless times. Like, before I even reached the 2 mile mark…and then every 1/2 mile to mile going forward. That’s another downside to treadmill running…it feels nearly impossible to distract yourself from the pain, and ignore just how fast you are (or aren’t) running. When I’m outside running all around town in circles and stuff…there are a whole slew of things to distract me from any pain I have to deal with. There’s trying to stay on your own two feet, avoiding getting hit by any cars, lip syncing to my favorite songs, taking in the scenery, and being hyper aware of my surroundings at all times.
The treadmill takes away all of this. It’s just you, your reflection, and the screen filled with numbers and more numbers. Naturally, when you’re in pain and see that you have another 3-4 miles to run just to hit 6 miles…you start to panic. You tell yourself that it’s not worth it to finish this run if it means possibly re injuring yourself. You remind yourself that you are not really all that strong…especially when it comes to coping with this kind of pain. The thought of increasing your speed with each mile that passes seems absolutely insane.
It became very apparent early on in this run that I would not be running for a full 60 minutes, or shooting to get 6.5 miles done in under an hour.
Pre-run, these were a few goals that I had in mind. By the halfway point, I had instead switched my goal to a more realistic one: run 6 miles somewhere in the 56 minute range. My last 6 mile run (November 1st) was done in 56 minute and 47 seconds. I assumed that I could beat that outdoor time running on the treadmill with zero hills or traffic to contend with. What I did not anticipate, was going crazy during that last mile with my speed. By that final mile, I was riding the struggle bus hard, and in a lot of pain.
I could barley keep up with running at 6.6 mph, let alone having to up the speed and run 6.7 for the last mile. Still, there was a part of me that wanted to push the envelope; see what I was really made of. I wanted/needed to get a good time after going through all of this pain and pretending that Damon Salvatore was for sure going to be at the finish when I hit the 6 mile mark. I didn’t want to finish this run with a mediocre time and feel like all of the effort/pain had been for nothing. That is when I decided that I HAD to up the speed by .1 every tenth of a mile. What came next was beyond difficult.
I’m not saying this was a smart idea given my physical state at the start of this run…in fact, this was probably the stupidest idea I have had in awhile (aka the last 24 hours or so). At first, it didn’t feel that difficult and seemed perfectly maintainable for a whole mile. However, around the 5.4 mile mark or so is when thing began to get more challenging. I really didn’t want to risk going to fast and flying off the treadmill. I also didn’t want to run a shitty time…so I was in a bit of a pickle. Obviously, I chose to continue upping my speed, because, “THE FASTER YOU RUN…THE SOONER YOU’RE DONE.”
In the end, I was just happy to beat my time goal and come out victorious against the treadmill.
I finished in a time of 55 minutes and 22 seconds. Upon completing my 6 miles, I dragged my butt over to the nearest chair in the gym and collapsed. I was drenched in sweat and breathing harder than I have in a long time. The idea of having to get through another 30 minute of incline walking on the treadmill, plus a 90 minute leg day made me want to curl up into a ball and give up. My entire lower body was trashed at that point…so hitting any Pr’s was totally out of the question.
By some crazy miracle, I made it through the rest of that workout relatively unscathed. Sure, I walked around like I was just a little bit drunk and had some pain…but that was nothing compared to the pain I felt hours later while just sitting down trying to get some extra work done on my computer. Thank God for 2 hour naps, Gatorade Zero and Ice Packs.