Treadmills < outdoor runs

As much as the bitter cold, whipping winds and treacherous ice of winter running suck, the treadmill still makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs in sheer boredom.

I just can’t do it. I tried valiantly on Thursday, when the temperature was around -20, but I only made it 5 km before I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was listening to podcasts, running in shorts and a tank (such a weird feeling) and trying to distract myself with people-watching, but it was still. so. mind-numbingly. boring. Any tips on how to get through a treadmill run??? The longest I have ever done is 10km and I’m still not sure how I did that.

After 5km I jumped off, pulled on my sweats and drove back to my apartment. I changed into my outdoor running gear and ran a cold but blissful 8km outside to round out my run. There’s just something about being able to run past things and have that changing atmosphere, incline and decline and wind at your back (or more likely, blowing in your face). Sometimes when I think about it, I feel like a hamster or gerbil in my daily life – I do the same things every day, I run around (literally on my runs, and more figuratively around work, doing errands, hanging out with friends, driving, etc.) but I always end up in the same place where I started the day – at home, in my bed, ready to start it all up again tomorrow like a cog in a machine. Running on a treadmill takes that feeling of running around on a wheel and never really progressing or moving forward in life and multiplies it by a million. So I think that’s the biggest reason why I hate it so much. I want to at least feel like I’m moving forward.

So that was Thursday. Friday was cross-training (Jillian Michaels’ yoga with my mom, sweaty but fun to do with someone else I can commiserate with!) and then today I woke up to about 2.5 feet of snow we got overnight, with the good ol’ flurries coming down and snowplows and snowblowers out in full force.

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On the running schedule? 9.5km fast today and 14.5km slow long run tomorrow. Hah. Yeah, there was no way anything fast would be happening.

I got bundled up though (wore my new swishy-material loose running pants over my tights*) and headed out. It actually ended up being a pretty fun run! The streets were pretty good and since everything was closed because of the storm, there wasn’t a lot of traffic to worry about. Running in snow is a lot like running in sand – it’s tough, but man, it feels good on your shins and joints. Especially running downhill! I ran a nice slow 5’41/km pace and ended up doing 12km just in case tomorrow’s weather is worse and I can’t do 14.5. Does anyone else “bank” their runs like this?

I think – I hope – I’ve turned a corner in my attitude on winter running. As a fairly raging Type A personality, I tend to stress over…everything, especially things I can’t control. Like the weather. A big part of my lack of motivation over training for Boston that I felt in the fall stemmed from increasing dread of winter running. I remembered all too well the panic I’d feel waking up in the morning to some brand-new weather condition that had developed over night, and freaking out about how I’d manage whatever run was on my training schedule.

But now I’m trying to look at weather as just one more factor in my training. Like a speed or interval or endurance run, a “weather run” will test my capabilities (both mental and physical) and help make me a stronger, better runner. They won’t be my fastest, longest runs, but they’ll toughen me up and help prepare me for Boston in other ways than working on my pace or distance. I’m giving myself permission to relax a bit more with winter training and to have faith that this too shall pass. Spring WILL come (right???) and hopefully I’ll have a few weeks at the end (before tapering starts, please?) to get in some great, kick-ass fast/long runs.

*Swishy pants (yes, that is their proper name, ha!) are the BEST. I picked up a pair from Sport Chek yesterday to layer over tights and they were great at blocking out the wind. When I got back home I had to slide them halfway off to get to my keys and I realized just how much protection and warmth they had given me during the run. Definitely recommend them for those extra-cold days! Also, has anyone tried running in ski goggles? I’ve been wearing my sunglasses but the last few runs they’ve been getting fogged up from my breathing and basically blinding me, so I have to take them off (but then get blinded by snowflakes driving into my face). Would non-fog ski goggles help? Would I just look even more insane? Do I care at this point? (No, I’ve accepted I will be the crazy running girl probably my whole life)

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4 thoughts on “Treadmills < outdoor runs

  1. All of this sounds terrible. BUT! I agree that training in Canadian winter will definitely make you a better runner and help you prepare for Boston in numerous ways. You’re gonna run that marathon like it’s nothing after this!

    But I agree about treadmill running. It’s just awful. And you really have to run more than you would on a regular run because you don’t have wind resistance and varying road conditions to add to the difficulty. I think a treadmill might be good only for trying to run as fast as possible. Also, obviously you’re used to podcasts on your regular runs, but for treadmills I can only handle loud, upbeat, fast-paced music to get me through it. Nothing that makes me think too much. Anyway, hopefully you won’t have to use a treadmill again, but in case you do… good luck.

    About ski goggles, I think it’s a great idea! You don’t even care about looking ridiculous, so you might as well be comfortable.

  2. Dad suggested we wear ski goggles to the Winter Classic. I flat-out refused that ridiculous notion. No way we were going to look like a bunch of goofs. What do you know? There were all kinds of people in googles, and at minus 15 and driving snow for 4 hours, they didn’t look goofy at all!

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