Oh Treadmill, My Treadmill

Let’s face it, Florida during the summer is as wet and humid as it can get. Sure, I love coming home for the summer and taking in the warmth, especially after spending 9 months in the frozen tundra of Boston. But, since I’ve decided to train for the 2 upcoming half marathons, Florida has become my worst enemy. From the mosquitos to the unrelenting storms, I absolutely hate how it completely throws off my running schedule. I was looking forward to completing all of my training runs on the road but I’ve had no choice but to create some sort of friendship with treadmills.

Since coming home, I made it a priority to sign up for a gym membership at a relatively large gym so I wouldn’t have to deal with overcrowding. Seeing as most people in Florida are into achieving bulging muscles and rock hard bods (I am one of those people), hitting the weights becomes a challenge during certain times of the day. On the other hand, there is a huge surplus of treadmills in my gym. Upon discovering this my first few times at the gym, I thought that it was a nice little touch. But with how wet, humid, and dangerous the weather has been lately, the cardio section surplus has been a lifesaver. I write this with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Luckily, only a few of my training runs have been on a treadmill while the majority have been on the road. Although, I do feel like the amount of treadmill runs will increase as my training schedule progresses. Now, you might be asking, “Why are you so bitter? What’s not to love about running on a treadmill? You have air conditioning, speed control, and you don’t have to deal with mother nature.”

No offense to lovers of the ‘mill, but I’m about to drop my stone cold opinions on y’all. First of all, I hate the predictability that comes with running indoors on a treadmill. On a race day, you can’t expect things to go as planned. Anything can happen in terms of the race course (i.e. incline, decline, amount of racers) and the weather. When I ran the B.A.A. 5k (my first race ever), I was expecting frigid  weather with a relatively flat course. That was not the case. I found myself shedding some of my layers and experiencing some incline / decline changes. While most people would find this annoying, I liked the change and the thought of running into the unknown. In short, it’s thrilling.

To me, running is about working hard and continuing despite any circumstances. If it’s hot on race day, I’ll have to deal with it. If it’s cold, I’ll deal with it. If it rains, yeah, I’ll have to deal with it. But if it’s dangerous outside, you can bet that a race will be cancelled. I only use treadmills when I feel that it is or can get dangerous outside.

As for speed control, I like that I can adjust a treadmill to get faster thus challenging myself to keep up. But sometimes I find myself wearing myself out too quickly or pushing myself way too hard. I guess you can call me an occasional speed control abuser. With half or full marathon training, your goals should dictate your training. For people who want to increase their race pace, upping your speed is essential. But for people like me who simply want to finish their first race in a decent amount of time, it’s about learning to conserve energy and know your limits while gradually upping your mileage. When I run on the road, I know to take it slow and how to fluctuate my pace in a way that will help me see results while remaining injury-free. But because of the non-stop stormy weather that passes through South Florida, I need to learn how to find my balance on a treadmill.

Eventually, I know that I will feel more comfortable and confident on a treadmill. I will find my balance and finally see the treadmill as an effective training tool when road running isn’t an option. I hope that day comes soon. But until then, I will have to deal with my issues and keep at it. I need to look past these problems and distractions because, after all, any run is better than no run at all.

Anyway, today is, yet again, a dark stormy day and I will have to retreat to a gym treadmill. Wish me luck.

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