Treadmill versus the road

Everyone tells me that running on the road is not the same as running on a treadmill. And they are right. I am trying to transition to hitting the pavement, but there are many factors that keep me going to the gym to hit the Star Trac. I don't want to have to choose at this point, and I can't afford to have the question distract me from the key reason I'm exercising - to get my head straight.

When I first started at the gym over two months ago, I was terrified. Sweating in public? Ick. Who wants to see that? Of course, I've realized the answer is and should be "no-one." When I realized it wasn't a scary place, I was able to turn my daily visits into my daily medication while I tried to avoid the pitfalls of self-destruction.

But, as I've been upping my miles people have been saying I've got to hit the road soon if I have any hope of completing the ten-miler. People have been very kind by suggesting trails, suggesting routes, and so on. They say that running on a treadmill is too boring and doesn't provide real-world conditions by which to train.

And, they're right. But, they're also wrong, given that my main goal is to give myself an hour of exercise every day. I don't run every day. I lift weights three days a week, and take one day off a week for total rest. I'll be the first to admit I don't know what I'm doing, but I've set modest goals for myself and don't want to get discouraged.

I've been discouraged from running this week because of these questions, but also because I've been worried about my right calf. It seems to never fully recover and so I've been trying to stretch it out more. I need to get to Ragged Mountain Running Shop to get some customized inserts, but that will cost money, and my resources are currently devoted to getting myself out of a deep financial sinkhole.

But, today I went in and hit the treadmill and blanked out all the questions and just ran. I took my brother-in-law's advice and began switching up the pace and incline on a more frequent basis to emulate the unpredictability of the road. I listened to BBC Radio 4's News Quiz for the first half hour and switched to music for the second half. When I do this, I always speed up and I can always feel the adrenaline pumping. I think about all the pain in my personal life and I feel like the anger and the sadness and the bitterness gets transformed into something life-affirming.

Whether that happens on a treadmill or the road doesn't really matter. What matters is that I can heal.


Andrew Hersey said...

Exactly. I'm a big proponent of running outdoors, but the most important thing is to be running at all. Don't beat yourself up over which is best - you're doing great to be going to the gym and sticking with it. I've been a 3-times-a-week runner for 25 years, and that's always kept me healthy and happy and sane. Goals are good, improvement is great, but sticking with it is the best there is. Good luck, Sean, and I hope I see you in the ten miler.

Sean Tubbs said...

Thanks, Andrew! A future blog post will be all about running in Albemarle County, and how much I'm really enjoying living in my new place. I find it much easier to run along Hydraulic Road, around Humprhis Park, and even along 29. However, I only like to do it when it's warm outside.

Neilswilliamson said...

Andrew is right -- just keep going. Those who told you you could not complete the ten miler are wrong. Road milage will help prepare you for the ten miler -- which is run on roads and outside -- but treadmill miles are still miles. You will complete the ten miler and you will do well and you (and others) will be proud of this accomplishment.

I am a goal oriented runner. Some runners train to race -- I race to train. Without the looming deadline of a race commitment, I fail to have the proper motivation for training -- I guess just living longer isn't enough.

Any way - turn up the music and keep running -- treadmill or road.

Kevin Cox said...

Mr. Tubbs,
I just happened to stumble across your blog and I'd like to comment. I hope you don't object to hearing from me.
I run also and like Neil Williamson I race to train. Racing motivates me to keep up my exercise. I run in order to stay fit and have a long and healthy life. When I started running 5 years ago I made a pledge that I would run the Ten Miler until it becomes physically impossible for me to do it. I'd probably be happiest dropping dead running the Ten Miler as an centenarian.

Cross training on an elliptical, stationary bike and a treadmill are all part of my training. I like the treadmill for High Intensity Interval Training. It works for me. Still, there's nothing like a nice fast run on a beautiful day on the Rivanna Trail or the Monticello Saunders Trail.

On a post you wrote awhile ago about CTS you wrote that you live only a mile and half from your job. Do you ever walk to work? I walk a total of 5 miles to and from my job every weekday. I consider the walk part of my training. It's become such a integral part of my day that I MUST walk. I also enjoy all the people who are now regular parts of my day. People like Dave the harmonica player, Melvin Carter the taxi driver, Linda Owens my friend and fellow runner and many others I see and chat with as I walk to work.
Your rejection of negativity is a fine goal and one I admire. I try to have positive interactions with just about everyone I run into during the day. Reality being what it is though, there are times when, well it may be best for your goals and your soul to be negative. Anger can be a justifiable and needed release. Usually though, it just makes me feel worse.
Kevin Cox

Sean Tubbs said...

Mr. Cox, thanks for your response. Ideally I could walk to work, but I have had to move to Albemarle County and so I am not able to walk the five miles to work at this point! But, definitely think that would be ideal.

I'm learning how to use anger in my favor. When I get pissed off, I try to work it off by upping the incline on the treadmill, or adding another 10 pounds to the weight machines.