Saturday, March 22, 2008

A great treadmill run -- finally!

In my experience, the days when you really don't feel like running are the days you have some of the best running experiences.

Today was one of those days for me. I had told myself that I was going to see if I could run a mile on the treadmill without stopping, but when today actually came, and I had free time, I really didn't feel like getting off the couch. Watching television is so much easier than running -- why run when I can watch reruns of Star Trek Voyager?

Ah, the Eternal Question. But instead of laying there, pondering, I decided to get off my fat ass and walk three blocks to the gym. I am glad I did. What followed was the best treadmill workout I have had in years.

I have never been able to test my Run-a-Mile-Without-Stopping ability when running outside, because I live on the set of The Sound of Music -- you know, rolling hills that are so much fun to spin around and sing songs on but a bitch to run on? I can't run a mile around here because I hit massive hills after half a mile!

Outside, I have been training at about 4.2 mph, which is a fairly slow shuffle. Today, I wanted to go faster. My goal? Run 5 mph, without stopping, until I have traversed one mile. Twelve minutes of nonstop running. Doable? I thought so. But it was going to be tough.

Once on the treadmill, I walked one minute to briefly warm up. Then I pushed it up to 5 mph, and we were off! The first five minutes were a breeze, as my pulse steadily rose from 130 to 150. I was still below 75% of my maximum heart rate, so it was still easy. But my pulse continued to rise, and soon it was approaching 165. Now it was getting tough. I knew that once I hit 13 minutes, that would be the one mile mark, so I was eagerly counting down the minutes until I could stop running. As I counted down, my pulse continued to rise. 170, 175, 179...

And there it hovered, around 175, for the last two minutes. It was hard... but I did it! As the clock hit 13 minutes, I hit the off button and jumped up on the handrails. Sweat was dripping from every part of me, but I had done it! I know it is kind of pathetic that my heart was working at 90% of its capacity to finish one mile at 5 mph, but I was still ecstatic. The last time I had an okay treadmill workout was one month ago, but at that point I had to use The Stick every few minutes, my legs tightened up incredibly, and I had to walk every few minutes. This is the first time I have been able to run one mile on a treadmill without stopping in several years. (I had been using The Stick religiously the past few days, and it paid off -- no tightness, no numbness!)

After the mile, I got off the treadmill for a few minutes, walked around, talked to some trainer friends, and eventually got back on the treadmill. My only goal for the day was really to see whether I could run one mile without stopping. Having accomplished that goal, I was fairly open about what to do next. I ended up jogging for a few minutes, walking for one minute, and repeating that several times, trying to keep my pulse around 150. Once I had hit 2 miles, my instinctual reaction was absolutely unprecedented, and it went something like this:

"Well, I have already gone 2 miles -- I might as well go 3!"

I cannot remember, ever in my life, having uttered something like that. I've already gone 2 miles, why not keep on going? What the hell is that? That is something a runner says! I'm not a runner! I'm a guy who is trying to run -- there is a big difference.

Unfortunately, just as I was a couple of tenths of a mile into my third mile, having pushed the speed up to 5.5 mph, the damned treadmill shut off. "WORKOUT SUMMARY," it said. Noooooo! Alas, my momentum was lost. After several seconds, I was finally able to turn the treadmill back on, but I only ended up running about 2.5 miles. Still, pretty impressive for me. :-)

After the 35 minutes of running/walking, I felt great. Hungry, as I hadn't eaten in about seven hours, but great. Full of energy, chipper, and just generally content. It was a great run, and I am extremely glad that I got off the couch today. Star Trek Voyager is nice, but not nearly as nice as an unexpectedly great running experience!


  1. Matt that is great! Your first sentence is very true. I have NEVER regretted getting my butt off the couch to go running, but I have often regretted wasting a beautiful day being lazy inside.

    And while I appreciate your efforts to track your heart rate and all, I wonder if you're over-thinking it a little bit. Do you ever get a chance to just run and 'get in the zone?' Remember when I was telling you about the floating head feeling? Part of that comes with just running and letting the mind go a little blank, which is probably hard to do when you're monitoring ten gadgets strapped to various parts of your body.

    So I don't know - next time you're in the mood for something different, try running without that stuff and see if it makes a difference, mentally.

  2. Oh yeah, you're a runner. Congratulations on a great workout!

  3. Stopping by from Skwigg's page...

    Congratulations! You ought to check out Penguin Athlete's on Yahoo Groups. They'll tell you, you ARE a runner! At my gym, I often put the TV on Star Trek while I'm running on the treadmill and I'm prepared to leap off & pummel anyone who tries to change the channel. :)