Thursday, February 24, 2005

Whiteout! Treadmill?

Well, it's snowing quite a bit here in New York. This will cut into my training a bit, although this week is one of the lightest for me because I get an extra rest day. I am following Hal Higdon's intermediate half-marathon training schedule (www.halhigdon.com).

Oh, I don't think I mentioned in my previous post, I am planning to run the Long Island Half Marathon in the beginning of May. I've run this one for the past four years, if my memory serves me right. I never had much of a training plan and was therefore never prepared on the actual day of the race. Last year was the icing on the cake. I was going to too many spinning classes rather than running. I never saw the harm in going out there and running the 13.1 miles with my fellow Long Islanders.

Besides poor training, what else did I do wrong? I decided I didn't want to run this one alone, so I paired up with my mom's friend's daughter, who I've known since childhood, but NEVER ran with before. I knew she was somewhere in my pace range, but as luck would have it, she was going a bit faster than I could keep up with. I stayed the course with her for the first 5 or 6 miles, going much too fast for the first half of the race. I finally gave in and told her to run ahead, admitting to myself there was no way I could keep up that pace.

And then I hit it --- THE WALL. I was able to finish, but I felt as if there were 1-ton bricks tied around my ankles. And the throbbing leg pain that has been rearing its ugly head for the past year was coming back with a vengeance. I spent that night with ice packs and Deep Heat on my legs while crawling around my apartment rather than walking like a normal human being.

Moral of the story??? Never run ANY race without the proper preparation and training. I veered off course a bit, but I told this story because in the past, harsh weather would always get in my way of proper training. A race in May means training in January, February, March and April - months where the weather can be relentlessly evil.

The word "treadmill" never fit into my vocabulary. The one thing I love about running is being able to get some "me time" in the great outdoors. I'm cooped up all day at school, work, my apartment. Running outdoors gives me the fresh air and sun-kissed vitamin D my body craves. I always swore up and down the treadmill was horribly boring and there was no way I could get in more than 3 or 4 miles without jumping off in complete desperation. All the TV sets and music gizmos in the gym can't keep me on the treadmill for anything.

But, in the past few months, I have learned to look at the treadmill in a new light. It is not a vicious machine taking away my outdoor time. Rather, it helps me train and keeps me from slipping on ice patches. It keeps me safe from crazy road-rage drivers and stray dogs looking for a friend. It provides a joint-friendly terrain as an alternative to the usual pavement pounding. I am in no way saying I will resort to a lifetime of treadmill runs, but I am learning to appreciate this piece of equipment and how it can enhance my training in trying weather.

So, I have made peace with the treadmill. My MP3 player has certainly helped this peace become possible. I will venture to the treadmill and dream of the first Spring days soon to come.

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