Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Positive Aspects of Treadmill Running

Here we are on hump day, just another snowy day in Chicago.  It has gotten to the point that talking/tweeting/posting about the weather and its inconveniences is like beating a dead horse.  But I wrote an awesome haiku yesterday:

It's snowing again.
When will it all melt for good?
I hate the treadmill.

(You can read more of my spectacular running poetry here and here.)  Treadmill running is probably the epitome of what runners love to hate.  And my relationship with the treadmill truly is a love/hate relationship.  So instead of highlight the negative aspects of treadmill running, as most of us usually do during this time, I decided I'm going to focus on why treadmill running is better than outdoor running.

People watching.  People watching is obviously fun outside too, but you generally just run past a person never to see them again.  But on the treadmill, you can observe people and their working-out habits/techniques.  At XSport, the treadmills are right next to one of the fitness studios, so chances are a class is going on.  It is funny to watch people doing the routines, but to the music in your own headphones.

Controlling your pace.  If I was able to go run for an hour outside, chances are it would be just an hour right around 8 minute pace or so, with little variation.  I like that the treadmill allows me to pick and choose exactly what speed I want to go for the day without any guesswork.  I can easily change up the pace when the song changes or after a certain number of minutes without always needing to look down at my watch to see when to do so.

Hillwork.  There is no such thing as a hill in Chicago.  Sometimes there are very slight inclines, but they are about as close to a hill as my net worth is to Warren Buffett's.  Or my basketball skills are to Michael Jordan's.  You get the picture.  Now, I am not going to pretend I've actually done hill work on the treadmill.  I'm not one to voluntarily run hills.  But I know that I should and used to run on hillier terrain when I lived in Dayton.  Catherine recently sent me a few treadmill hill workouts to try by varying the incline setting for intervals, so I plan to work those in over the next month and will share them when I do.

(There ARE hills/mountains in Denver!)

Readily available supplies.  I always have a towel and water bottle right at the treadmill with me.  In addition to varying the speed every time the song changes, I also am in the habit of taking a drink of water every time the song changes (after I change the speed first of course).  I usually use a towel to cover up the display panel so I am not constantly staring at my time or distance, but I also use it to wipe away sweat from my face which is something I can't do outside.

Entertainment.  Along the lines of supplies, I must admit that I do bring my phone to the treadmill sometimes and text or tweet while I run.  Same with the Kindle, which only works to read while running at the slower speeds, otherwise I'm too bouncy.  I can also watch/read the closed captioning on the TV.  I can't tell you how many episodes of Sex and the City I've "seen" but not heard.  They are always on and I watch and read the captioning, but while I'm listening to my own music.

And a recap from today's run:

Day 10 - 7.5 miles in 60 minutes (8:00 pace average)

This run was very similar to yesterday's.  The total time and mileage ended up the same as yesterday, but today I started at a speed of 6.8 and increased by .1 each time the song changed, ultimately ending at a speed of 8.4.  I was happy with it, especially because I was almost going to stop early a few times.

I was at the YMCA today instead of XSport and used the treadmill while Mom was in Zumba class.  I was starting to feel very fatigued and knew she'd be done right around when I would hit 6 miles.  I figured I would just call it quits when she finished Zumba because obviously I want to be polite and not make her wait.  But instead, I told her she should get on the treadmill next to me and walk/run for a bit until I finished, which she did.  (I am trying to get her to be a runner of course.)  By this time, I was at a speed of 8.1 and was pretty sure I was not going to make it much longer.  I declared that I would stop at 7 miles.  But once I got there,  I told myself it's only about 4 more minutes to finish out the hour, so I kept on cranking through it.  Boo-yah.

I do like doing these gradual progression runs, but I think tomorrow I'll go back to sticking around the same general pace for the duration of the hour.

What do you like about the treadmill?
What TV shows do you watch on the treadmill?


  1. My relationship with the treadmill is similar. What I do not like about it (in addition to the obvious reasons) is that usually the temperature inside the gym is ~70-75 and I start feeling warm and sweaty pretty fast. But, I do appreciate the fact that I can up the pace and when I run at a pace faster than I thought I was capable of, even if it is just for a tiny bit of time, I feel very proud of myself! :) However, because of that it is also hard to do an "easy" run on a treadmill, since I am always tempted to up the pace!

  2. I get so jealous of the gyms that have TVs on every piece of cardio equipment. then you can pick whatever show you want!! I don't know how on earth your text or tweet while running on the treadmill... I would instantly fall off. haha

  3. Finally, someone acknowledged the "good" in treadmills. How would we run in negative temperatures if it weren't for treadmills, right? :) I like that fact that I can run next to my husband and we can run at different paces. I am mostly a music fan when it comes to running - I don't watch a lot of TV while on the treddy.

  4. I am definitely getting so sick of the weather too! I don't even want to make the mindless weather chat at work because what's the point, it's freezing, it snowed, haven't seen the sun in days...blah...blah.... But on the plus side I have been really challenging myself on the treadmill unlike my "usual" run outside back in the day when it was warm. I have been seeing some big improvements "for me" lately. Not near your place (speedy you!). Check out my blog, I ran 30 miles on my 30th birthday!!

    I was thinking about our run in Chicago the other day you must have been dying at my slow pace....sorry! Hope all is well!