Sunday, April 6, 2014

Treadmill Run Block

            This has been a record-breaking cold winter up here in the Northwoods, with the temperature averaging 4.7 degrees over a three-month period.  Yikes!  Whenever there was a “warm” day, it also seemed to snow.  And it has snowed a lot, without getting hardly a chance to melt, resulting in a lot of cold and a lot of snow piled up.  Needless to say, outdoor running this winter has had its challenges.  I was getting one run a week outdoors, otherwise being confined to the treadmill for my weekday runs (no way was I able to take Baya out in a stroller with me in all that snow and cold!).  Every weekend (when I was able to run outside) it was either around 0 degrees or if it warmed up to positive double digits, there was fresh snow to have to run through.  This has indeed been a long winter.
            I used to loathe the dread-mill.  I could hardly stand to stay on it.  Since it has been my only option though, I have learned how to suffer through it, and have even come to embrace it.  There are things that I have learned about using the treadmill.  First of all, everyone seems to have a favorite.  We are also creatures of habit, so of course we always like to go to the same one (or same brand).  There are three of mine that I like (the kind with the best fans on them), so while I occasionally have to use a different one (ugh), it isn’t too frequent.
            Second, I have discovered that treadmills are really great for interval training.  I thought that I wouldn’t be able to mentally handle doing this type of speed work on a treadmill.  To prepare for this type of work, I had been adding strides into a few of my weekly runs.  Then I added in repeats once per week, which are fast, but short, lasting less than two minutes each time, and returning to an easy pace for 2-3 times the length of the repeat.  For me, my repeat pace is about 6 minutes/mile (based off of Daniel’s Running Formula paces).  I did my repeats of 200-400 meters during my bike block.  I just finished my run training block and was doing interval training one day per week (3-5 minute in duration at a slightly slower pace than the repeats, with a shorter recovery between each).  I’m also doing threshold work one day a week.  The first days of these types of workouts, I didn’t know how I would hold the faster paces for such durations, but once I got into the groove it wasn’t so bad.  The nice thing about doing speed work on a treadmill is that you know exactly what your pace is.  You set your pace and just go, without having to worry about it for the rest of the time.  In a sense, it is the simplest way to do intervals.  Don’t listen to when your mind tells you you’re tired and should slow down.  I hope that doing all this treadmill training will help me to also become mentally tough to push through the challenging run portions of the triathlon and to push myself to discovering new limits.
Third, I learned that my treadmill automatically goes into a two-minute cool-down once it hits the hour mark.  On a cold, windy, near-zero degree day, I actually wimped out and went and ran indoors for my long run.  My previous longest run on a treadmill was only 5.5 miles (which is still too long on a blasted treadmill in my mind!), but I have now run 7 miles on it.  And you know what?  It wasn’t all that bad.  I know others who have run much farther than that on a treadmill, but for me it felt like a milestone!
            There are things that I have learned to do to help pass the time.  Listening to music just wasn’t cutting it.  Sometimes there would be something interesting on tv and closed captioning was on, but that only did so much.  I have a slew of magazines though that I hardly get a chance to sit down and read (big surprise as a mom of a one-year-old), so I have been able to use my time on the treadmill as an opportunity to catch up on some of that reading!  My husband says it makes him nauseous to try and read while running, but it works for me, even when I am doing something faster like threshold pace.  Now my only concern is running out of my magazines!
            Originally I was hoping that winter would wrap up before my run training block would, and I would get outside to do some of this speed work.  No such luck up here in the Northwoods!  I had cut down my hard bike rides to only two per week, same with my swimming, though I still try to get four days of each in.  The other two days are just aerobic.  I have made one of the aerobic bike rides longer as well, getting up to two hours in length to start preparing for my build period that starts next!  We are finally beginning to see some signs of spring (although we just got dumped on recently with more snow), and I’m excited to hit the roads for some long bike rides again.  This is definitely the hardest I have ever worked on my running (or biking), and I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes together this season.  I’ll be testing out my run in an upcoming 5K and 10K before the triathlon season starts, and I’m hoping all of this intensity and focus shows up in the results!
Keep on running!

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