Posted in Fitness, Opinions and Thoughts, Running

Is There Middle Ground in the Treadmill vs. Outdoors Debate?

Dark Outside

It happens every year, like clockwork.

With the onset of fall, as darkness falls earlier come the obligatory posts about running safely when it’s dark outside. And the running websites, magazines, and  Facebook groups throw out the question – Do you bring your run inside when it gets dark outside? The answers fly fast and furious, ranging from the tame, “No, I hate the dreadmill,” to the self-righteous, “It’s only a run if you run it outside.”

You know it's cold outside when you go outside and it's cold
You know it’s cold outside when you go outside and it’s cold

Now, as the country is in the throes of the “polar vortex,” we are going through round 2 of runners’ self-righteousness. Once again, the running websites, magazines, and Facebook groups are pitting the “real runners” against the “hamsters on the hamster wheel.” The question takes the form of – It’s X degrees out today, did you run outside or did you break down and hit the treadmill? Once again, the answers fly left and right, ranging from the weather-immune, “Of course I ran outside, just threw on an extra layer,” to the Eeyore-esque, “Call it what it is, the dreadmill,” to the haters, “Yes, I ran on the dreadmill, hated every second of it, and kicked it when I was done.”

picture of a treadmill
Treadmill

Every time these questions pop up or I read comments or posts about the “dreadmill” or people who proudly crow that they run outside exclusively no matter the conditions, I get a visceral reaction. “How dare they put down my beloved treadmill?” I ask myself. “Who are they to judge me or anyone else who runs on a treadmill?” I fume. “I’ve run marathons and half-marathons, too! Why are they bashing one of my training aids?” I rail inwardly.

Is this what a "real" runner's leg looks like?
Is this what a “real” runner’s leg looks like?

I‘m not sure why I have such a strong reaction to those posts, but I do. I’ve actually not renewed a running magazine subscription because one of their editors – yes, an editor – mocked treadmill runners. Why would an editor of a running magazine put down anyone who is running, regardless of where they’re running? Of course, I was accused of not having a sense of humor but what people don’t understand is that the little jabs here and there start to add up and pretty soon, anyone who runs on a treadmill will start to think that they aren’t runners. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it treadmill bullying but if the shoe fits…

Running Shoe
Running Shoe

The treadmill vs. outdoor runner debate will never get as heated as the runner vs. jogger debate. Yes, I saw one running group had resurrected that old saw recently, too. Why will it never get as heated? I can think of 3 reasons:

  1. Treadmill runners are intimidated by the “real” runners and feel inadequate after seeing all the vicious, hateful rhetoric about treadmills. These people don’t want to get flamed by the “real” runners when they make a comment that they run on a treadmill.
  2. A lot of treadmill runners probably don’t consider themselves real runners, which is an incredible fallacy. I’ll bet a majority of treadmill runners are gym-goers who are fit people. They probably crank out 3 to 6 miles 3 to 5 times a week as part of their workout without blinking an eye. But they may not consider themselves runners because they’ve never signed up for a race or because they’ve never followed a training program or because – heaven forbid – they run on treadmill instead of outside.
  3. Treadmill runners are not exclusively treadmill runners. We prefer the treadmill, but we also run outside. We are capable of finding the benefit in both.
No Haters
No Haters

Here’s the interesting thing to consider if you’re one of those outdoor-only runners – a run is a run is a run, no matter where you run it, no matter how fast you run it. We cheer the beginning runners who gasp their way around the block, but we denigrate the runners who have the mental toughness to slog out their runs on a treadmill. Why is that?

And if you’re one of those runners that thinks it’s cute to call it a dreadmill, consider this – if you name it, you own it. You call it a dreadmill and so you’ll dread every minute on it. You’ll never come to terms with how beneficial a treadmill can be. For a mother without childcare, a treadmill in the home could be a god-send. For a woman alone in a strange city, a treadmill in the hotel fitness center may be the only safe option. And the list goes on.

I’m a treadmill runner. I once ran a virtual half-marathon on my treadmill with nothing but music to keep me company. I learned my lesson after that run and now, the biggest television in the house is in the garage in front of my treadmill! But treadmill running has helped my focus, my mental toughness, and my consistency. Do I run outdoors? Of course I do! The fresh air, the sights and sounds, the social aspect of encountering other bikers and runners – what’s not to like? But at 5 o’clock in the morning when it’s still dark outside or after a long day at work, the treadmill is my friend.

My wish for the new year is that we runners support each other. Stop putting each other down. Stop making other runners feel like less than a runner because of where they run, how fast they run, or how they run. In my book, you’re a runner if you run. I don’t care if you run on the sidewalk, on a trail, on a bike path, on the beach, or on a treadmill – to me, you’re a runner. I don’t care if you run a 14 minute mile or a 10 minute mile or a six minute mile – to me, you’re a runner. I don’t care if you run, jog, run/walk, or walk/run – to me, you’re a runner.

In the meantime, wherever you run – Happy running!

Posted in Race Reports, Running

Race Report – 2012 Peacock Acres Turkey Trot 5k

The 5th Annual Peacock Acres Turkey Trot 5k took place on Saturday, 24 November 2012. This was my first time running this race, but interestingly enough, not my first time running this course.

Check In/Registration and Race Swag

Check-in was straightforward and simple. The volunteers knew what they were doing even if some of the participants didn’t.

I had pre-registered my parents and myself, but I didn’t know my brother would be home for the race so I didn’t register him. His registration process was smooth and simple, as well. Again, the volunteers knew what they were doing.

Race Start

There was a young man dressed in a turkey costume and he was given a head start. The goal was to “catch” and overtake the turkey. The prize for the first person to beat the turkey to the finish line was – you guessed it! – a turkey. The race started on a downhill so at the starting gun, the field took off at a sprint after the turkey. Thank goodness they don’t have us run up that hill to finish!

Race Course

This trail course was very hilly and had areas of sandy soil instead of hard-packed soil. It’s a tough course on a normal day and even tougher on a hot day.

After I finished, I ran/walked back through the course to find my parents. They were a little on the slow side, and I finally found them almost at the halfway mark. My mom always wears too many layers so I ended up carrying two of her sweatshirts for her! The good thing is that they weren’t the last ones to finish. A lot of walkers were struggling with the hills, the sandy soil, and the heat.

Post Race: Goodies and Medals

For a small event, the race organizers had a nice selection of munchies for before, during, and after the race. There was a best costume contest for the dogs – something to remember for next year!

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Thumbs Up: My entire family – including Rambo – was with me for this race.

Thumbs Down: No age group prizes – I doubt that I qualified for one but I’m pretty sure my brother did. It would have been sweet for him to get an age group prize for his very first 5k.

121124 Gilbert at the Turkey Trot 2

Thumbs Up: This was a dog-friendly race.

This is a tough little course. I would run this race again next year. I’m sure Rambo would enjoy the trail but I’m not sure if my parents will want to come along.

Happy Running!

Posted in Etiquette, Opinions and Thoughts

Wednesday Whys, 28 Nov 2012

I managed to run a bit during the Thanksgiving break. Since I didn’t have to work, I managed to run outside a lot. Since I don’t listen to music when I’m running outside (only when I’m in a race!), my thoughts were darting here, there, and everywhere. Here are the ones I remembered when I got back home:

  • Why must we edit classics like ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown so that they are politically correct? Are we really being sensitive and inclusive by doing this? Or are we simply re-writing history a la Orwell’s 1984?
1984 was not supposed to be an instruction manual
  • Why do people blow their noses at the table? Don’t they realize that it’s gross and disgusting to people who are eating?
Oh, that’s nasty…
  • Why are minority groups allowed to use racial slurs on one another but if another racial group uses the same word, it’s bad?
Shhh…don’t say anything
  • Why do dictionaries define words using the root word itself? Example: discretionary – subject or left to one’s own discretion (dictionary.com) At least the website gives a clickable link to “discretion” but would it really kill the writers to define discretionary as “subject or left to one’s own freedom of judgment or choice”?
Dictionary entry
  • Why do people tell you that you look great when you know you look like a sausage?
Running sausage

And the thought processor churns on…