I hate the treadmill. Nay, I despise the treadmill. That was me 6 weeks ago. I’ve been a runner for roughly 4 years now. In that time I had let my feet touch that revolving band 1 time for a miserable 8 miles. That was in season one, when I was still too delicate to run in the rain. It was the longest 70+ minutes of my life. Staring out the window of a gym as cars passed and I internally begged them to stop and pick me up.
Fast forward to early January of this year. I was two weeks into my training plan and had a 10 miler on the schedule. Mother Nature threw one of her -17 days out there and while I’ve ran in colder it hasn’t been for that distance. Needless to say I went back to the dreaded mill. 75 minutes later I got off that mouse wheel questioning everything I had previously thought. Naturally it was a touch monotonous, but I felt refreshed and completely happy about my decision. Over the next couple days I found myself making excuses to go back. I’ve already paid for the whole month… It’s still kind of cold out, right? I can go faster on the mill… By the month’s end I hit the mill 8 times. What happened to me?!?!
I’ve since gone back to the gym and renewed my membership one more month due to biting it one night on the ice. Truth be told, it’s good to be back in there on that wretched machine.
So why the change of heart? Eight weeks into my training I’ve found the mill to be one the most useful training tools I could have imagined. Here are some of the perks I’ve come to appreciate about my former enemy.
Who doesn’t want to run in shorts when it’s 2* out?!? With that being said, in most cases I can handle the cold. My biggest complaint about my outdoor winter running has always been my footing. Running on unplowed back roads hasn’t been fun these past few winters. Even when the roads get cleared I’m constantly trying to keep my footing and in doing so tiring my legs and slowing my pace. The mill welcomes back a spring time pace and no worries of slipping on the unseen.
Repeats, hills, tempo runs, all easily controlled on the mill. Looking at the same spot on the wall can be trying to say the least. I’ve found a good way to break up the time is by adding one of the aforementioned workouts. The side benefit of all this….speed! These are the core of marathon training and I’ve found they are even easier to complete in a controlled environment.
For someone with arthritic joints I’m very mindful of the pounding I take on the roads. Being able to lace them up and run on a forgiving surface is a great benefit of running on the treadmill. I’ve also found my joints are less sore when I wake up the next day.
Long run control:
We all have goals when we sign up for a race. More often than not those goals involve a time. Some people find it difficult to train at their desired pace on longer runs. Whether it’s because they fade out at the end due to lack of fuel or because they came out the gate too fast- it does happen. I just did 17 miles on the mill. I plugged in 7:24 and let the belt roll. Chances are due to experience and feel I could’ve been in that same area on the road but it does help mentally to know 7:24 is doable over a long period of time.Mental toughness:
Want to complete a marathon? It’s going to take more than physical conditioning. There’s going to come a time in the race when things don’t go as planned or you don’t think you can get to that next mile. The only thing that’s going to get you through those struggles is mental toughness. Putting yourself through hell in training helps you to realize you’ve got what it takes when it rears its ugly head during a race. Being stuck on a treadmill for 2-3 hours at a time….(even after all these positives) I’d say that comes pretty close to hell on earth!While I don’t see myself changing my ways and staying off the winter roads I’ve become a little more open-minded about my options. Here’s hoping winter ends soon and we can all get into our spring races.