On my last post (The Race That Wasn’t), I talked about the poor air quality leading up to and during the weekend of the Monterey Bay Half (Nov. 10-11). Well it didn’t get better until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. So from Nov. 10 (minus the Nov. 11 run in Monterey) through Nov. 20 I ran exclusively on the treadmill.
I have never been a treadmill runner. I had only ever run on one in the past if there really bad weather or I didn’t feel safe on the roads for some reason. And there wasn’t really a choice during these couple of weeks, the air was very dangerous to breathe (my work closed, schools closed, K’s daycare closed… you get the idea). And I didn’t want to skip an undetermined number of runs (who knew how long the bad air would linger). So treadmill it was.
All my previous treadmill runs had also been slow. I have a mild (real) fear of falling (you know the gif of the person eating it on the ‘mill? yeah I saw myself there for sure!). So I told my coach to give me my workouts but that I might just run easy. And he agreed that would be ok, a few weeks out from my marathon I had done the hard work – I just had to make sure I didn’t injure myself.
While I did do all of my runs (I didn’t skip one), this was definitely one of the few times that I took the low range of all my runs. Normally if my schedule says 6-8 miles, I will run that 8. But on the treadmill, 6 baby.
But I was determined to try a workout and if I felt like I might eat shit, I’d drop it. That was a tempo workout: 10 minutes on, recovery, 5 minutes, recovery, 10 minutes (tempo being about 6:40-6:50). With some good pop songs from the ’90s and early 2000s, I overcame my fear of running fast on the treadmill. Two days later I did 800s at 3:03-3:08 (about 6:10-6:15 average pace). The following week I did 3 by 3 minutes at a 5k pace. I did not like it at all but it was good mental fortitude.
And yep, I did a long run too. Twelve miles on the treadmill is up there as one of my least favorite things but I did start watching Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime, it made for some pretty good viewing on the treadmill, as well as an episode of Doctor Who another day (man I love the new doctor!). But really I can’t complain because I had teammates running upwards of 20 miles(!!!) on the treadmill.
I tried really hard to remind myself that this was a good exercise in mental strength. I planned on looking back on these miles when I got into the hard parts of the marathon. If I could push through on that boring ‘mill, I could push through the slogs of the marathon. And heck, I definitely made my gym membership worth it in November!
After the rain cleared out the smoke and I escaped to southern California, I had run a total of 61 miles on the treadmill. And I hope to never have to do it again… but I live in the land of wildfires, so I probably will.
Just to be clear – as much as I did not enjoy the treadmill, I know how lucky I am to have not been threatened by wildfires, still have my home, and loved ones. My thoughts continue to be with the victims of the Camp Fire.