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!

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Posted in Opinions and Thoughts

Wednesday Whys, 7 Nov 2012

More random thoughts while pounding out the miles both on the road and on my trusty treadmill:

  • Why did everyone swoon over Han Solo instead of Luke Skywalker?

    Picture of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo
    Who would you choose?
  • Why do people put their mobiles on speaker and then hold the phone up next to their mouths? Do they think that speakerphone is the same thing as “hands free”?
from http://www.culture-chat-lounge.com
  • Why do people treat public toilets like pigsties? Would you walk away from an unflushed toilet in your home or at your office? I think people just get gross in public areas. I always try to leave a public restroom better than when I came in, which usually means taking an extra paper towel and wiping up the area around the sink. It’s a small gesture but I think it helps and it makes me feel good.
OK, That's Just Gross
from http://www.funnyjunk.com
  • Why are there always a few who need to unbuckle their seatbelts on the plane before the “fasten seatbelt” sign is turned off? Do you really feel constricted by that little belt? So much so that you couldn’t bear another 30 seconds of wearing it?
No Smoking and Fasten Seatbelt Signs
  • Why do people wear sunglasses indoors? Do they think they really look that cool? I think they look silly, not cool.
Wearing Sunglasses Indoors
from http://www.sodahead.com

And the thought processor churns on…

 

Posted in Running

Is It Time to Panic Yet?

 

Is it time to panic yet?

Seven weeks until the 2012 San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon.

San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon 2012

Eight weeks until the 2012 NWM (Nike Women’s Marathon).

Eight Weeks Left NWM 2012

Is it time to panic yet? Let’s see.

  1. Did you already sign up for the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-marathon? or Have you been informed that you made it in the lottery for the NWM?
  2. Have you already made your travel arrangements?
  3. Have you already made your hotel reservations?
  4. Have you already requested time off from work (if you’re traveling and/or staying extra days in or around the race location)?
  5. Have you been following your training plan?
  6. If you answered no to #5, have you at least been running regularly?
  7. If you answered no to #6, have you at least been running a couple of times each week?
  8. If you answered no to #7, have you run at least once in the last couple of weeks?

If you answered no to the last four questions, it’s time to panic just a little bit. Sure, sheer guts and determination can take you to the finish line of a 5k or a 10k. But you don’t want to mess around with a half-marathon and especially not with a marathon. Those are distances you need to respect – unless you’ve run them several times before.

The good news is that you still have seven or eight weeks before the race. If you haven’t stuck to your training schedule, let go of expectations of a PR or winning your age group or running with your speedy friends. If you haven’t been running regularly, let go of wanting or needing to run the entire distance and allow yourself the sanity of walk breaks.

You can still show up on race day and have a great time. The key is to adjust your expectations and adjust your training schedule. The last thing you want to do now is to over-train and injure yourself.

As for me, I’m not in panic mode yet. My long run on Saturday was a bit over 10 miles. The training plan said 12 miles but I had technical difficulties with the treadmill so 10 miles was perfectly fine.

Happy Running!

 

Posted in Etiquette, Opinions and Thoughts, Running

Do You Run with Baggage?

English: Bespoke red custom baggage - Tanner K...

Do you run with baggage? What thoughts wander around in your head while you’re running? Are they good thoughts? Brilliant ideas? To do list items?

When I run on the treadmill, even if I’m watching a movie or a television show, there are a lot of thoughts wandering around in my head. For me, running time is processing time. Time to think about whatever I saw, read, observed, encountered, worked on, etc. since my last run. Or time to zone out if things were stressful.

When I run outside, my mind usually isn’t on my surroundings because it’s processing, just like it does on my treadmill runs. Do I notice my surroundings? Sure, especially if I’m running in a new place. Do I notice the cars whizzing by? Of course, safety when running outdoors is important to me. Do I notice other runners, walkers, and bikers? Absolutely, we are sharing the same space, after all.

Do I acknowledge those runners, walkers, and bikers? If you read my post, To Cheer or Not to Cheer – There is No Question, you know what I like to acknowledge others. So when I’m running outside, I’ll usually greet other runners, walkers, and bikers with a hearty, “Good morning!” or a cheery, “Hello!” Sometimes I smile and nod. I don’t wave. I’m not a fan of waving. How do I decide whether to speak or just smile and nod? If they have their headphones on, I’ll smile and nod. If they are with a companion and they’re in the middle of a conversation, I won’t acknowledge unless one of them makes eye contact. If they are on the phone, I may smile and nod or I may speak. If I’m feeling grumpy, I may just nod.

I have a lot of guidelines to acknowledging others on the road, right? I don’t have hard and fast rules about acknowledging other. I like to do it. Do I always do it? No. Do others always return my gesture? Of course not. Do I care if they don’t? Absolutely not.

A Facebook running group recently discussed the topic of runners not returning acknowledgments. The majority of people who commented said that they were offended or annoyed or irked or bothered when people didn’t return their greetings. It’s rude, some said.

I disagree with them. I’m sure I’ve been on the other side of not reciprocating an acknowledgment because I’ve been lost in my thoughts. If I ignored an acknowledgment, it wasn’t intentional. It certainly wasn’t personal. It doesn’t mean that I hate the person. It doesn’t mean anything at all.

If my acknowledgment is not returned, I know that it’s not about me. I may think to myself, “Well, I tried.” Or, “They must be having a bad day.” If my mom is on my mind, I might tell myself, “Their mom must have told them not to talk to strangers.” If I’m huffing and puffing pretty hard, I sometimes think, “They must not have understood what I was saying.” I let the thought come and then just as quickly, I let it go.

I have too much other stuff going on in my head to stuff any more baggage in there that doesn’t need to be there. I have enough emotional baggage of my own that I don’t need to be worried about whether a complete stranger snubbed me. I’m a slow enough runner that I don’t need to be weighed down by additional baggage like that.

If you see me running outside and you speak to me or smile/wave/nod and I don’t respond, don’t take it personally. I don’t hate you. I’m not ignoring you. I’m not secretly plotting your demise. It’s possible that I didn’t hear you, especially if I’m listening to music. It’s possible that I didn’t see you because of the glare from the sun or because I blinked. It’s possible that I’m struggling to find a rhythm and just missed your friendly gesture. It’s most likely that I’m lost in thought and just wasn’t paying attention. I can guarantee you 100% that it’s not about you.

So don’t hold it against me. Because it’s highly probable that the next time you see me, you’ll get a cheery greeting and a big, goofy smile. And I hope you’ll return my friendly gesture. But if you don’t, I won’t hold it against you. And I won’t give it a second thought.

Roobarb smiles

Happy Running!

Posted in Running

Running with Rambo

I am on a mission. Before the end of the year, I am going to turn Rambo into a runner. That is my mission.

Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Let me explain.

Rambo is a walker. He’s used to a brisk morning stroll on the weekdays. Brisk enough to get his heart beating a little faster than normal but leisurely enough so that he can smell the wildflowers. Long enough to get out of the house to smell the fresh air but not so long that he would miss his next meal. Early enough in the day to sometimes beat the sunrise but perfectly timed so that the rest of the day can be spent doing other, more important things.

Important things like lounging around on the couch, chasing after one of the three cats, and barking at the mailman.

Yes, Rambo is a dog. He’s a four-year-old mutt with hemophilia. Had he not been diagnosed with hemophilia when he was a puppy, he probably would have been running with me right from the start. But I always worried that he might cut his paws on broken glass or sharp plastic fragments or whatever other pieces of trash there might be on the sidewalks and roads. It was easier to leave him at home than to worry about him getting hurt while we were running.

But after his second birthday, we were able to relax and stop worrying so much about him getting cut or scratched or starting to bleed internally again. So he began joining my parents for their weekday morning walks, which he thoroughly enjoys. He knows when it’s time for the morning walk and is as excited for the walk as he is to go for a ride in the car. He has his shearling walking jacket for the fall and winter walks and his windbreaker for the spring walks. He has his favorite fence posts and lamps to lift his leg on and he has learned not to just squat in the middle of a crosswalk to do number two.

With all that, why would I disrupt his routine? I’d like to say it’s solely because he’s become a little roly-poly since my parents don’t walk as fast as they used to walk – my mom had a partial hip replacement last July and my dad’s waiting to be called for knee surgery. But that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

Yes, Rambo has become a little rounder these past nine months but he’s still healthy and able to play for hours on end. My reason for wanting to turn Rambo into a runner is mostly selfish. Taking Rambo for a run makes it easier for me to want to run outside instead of on the treadmill. Since I’m a big treadmill fan, I truly need all the motivation I can get to encourage me to run outside.

Rambo 2010

Results so far have been mixed. He loves going out with me after work but he’s not used to trotting along for 20 minutes at a time. I have to keep an ongoing stream of encouragements and blandishments so that he doesn’t slow to a walk. My running pace is slower because of him, which is incredibly funny to me because I am a slow runner. The last time we ran, I felt like I was dragging him the whole time and that he only picked up the pace once we came within sight of the house.

I haven’t given up yet because I have a feeling that once Rambo finds his running legs, he’ll be pulling me along.

Happy Running!

Posted in Running

The 10 Things I Love about Running

The Old Running Shoes
The Old Running Shoes (Photo credit: Mike Spray)

I’ve been running for a long time. Not very fast (6 mph on a good day for maybe a half mile) and not very far (my longest so far has been a marathon) but I run. I’m pleased to say that I’ve inspired some to start running, some to keep running, and still others to take up running again.

But what is it that makes me run? What is it that gets me out on the road or on my treadmill? Why am I a runner?

In no particular order, here are 10 things I love about running. I love

  1. the endorphins
  2. that it feeds my inner planner (training plans, training paces, trips for races)
  3. that I can catch up with television shows on my treadmill
  4. that a good run leaves me feeling strong, powerful, and invincible
  5. that a bad run leaves me looking forward to the next run in hopes that it will be better
  6. the “me” time
  7. the sound of my footsteps on the pavement or my treadmill
  8. the meditative nature of my morning runs
  9. the stress-relieving nature of my evening runs
  10. that some days I run further than some people drive

This list is a good reminder of why I run but it also helps me appreciate the fact that I can run. If I could no longer run, I would miss all of these things. It makes me want to hop on my treadmill right now, even though I ran in a 10k this morning and it’s 2230 right now.

What do you love about running? What would you miss about running if you couldn’t run again?

Happy running!

Posted in Race Reports, Running

Race Report: Nike+ Women’s Half Marathon

My city. My terms. My Nike+ Run.

Sunday, 15 January 2012, was the inaugural Nike+ Women’s Half Marathon. This was a virtual race – each participant would run a half-marathon at any time from 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, 15 January 2012, and log the run with Nike+. Participants could run anywhere so some runners who were already signed up for a race let that race do double duty.

I hesitated about signing up for this race. My runs lately have been to build a base for the half-marathon training that will start in a couple of weeks. I didn’t want to sign up for the race and then not be able to finish it or injure myself in the process because of my inadequate training.

I compromised by signing up for the Nike+ challenge because I could log the miles without paying the entry fee. After all, was the finisher’s bracelet worth $40? Then, last week, I reminded myself that I could do the distance, that I had completed the distance on minimal training before, and that I could walk to the finish if need be. I decided to go for it and registered for the race. I was official.

I chose to do my run on a treadmill, in the evening, after the football games. Since I hadn’t been training for this race, I decided to treat it like a long run and go at my long run pace instead of pushing my race pace. I thought that I would do a run/walk ratio of 9/1. That’s 9 minutes running, 1 minute walking. The morning of the race, I changed my mind because I knew I was going to be running at just a twitch above my long run pace and decided that my run/walk ratio would be 14/1.

After watching the Green Bay Packers lose miserably to the New York Giants, I put on my running clothes, laced up my Asics Gel Nimbus 13 – the next pair of shoes in the rotation, not my usual race shoes – popped my Nike+ sensor into my bean pod, and strapped on my Nike+ SportBand.

One small hiccup, though. I recently moved my treadmill to the garage and the idea of staring at a blank garage wall for 2+ hours was a bit daunting. I don’t have a television out there (yet!) and I’m anti-i so I don’t have an iPad. I’m also cheap so I don’t have a tablet. I had hoped to use my Nook to watch movies on crackle.com – not the best solution because of the Nook’s lack of flash – but even that idea was stymied because my treadmill is now too far away from my wireless router to get a good enough signal to connect. Luckily, I had my phone and was able to watch old episodes of NCIS during my time on the treadmill.

The run went surprisingly well given my lack of training. I stuck with my run/walk ratio of 14/1 and ended up pushing the pace well beyond my easy run pace because I was feeling so good.

I ran until my Sportband read 13.12 miles, ended my run, and then walked for a few more minutes to cool down. When I logged my run, though, instead of uploading 13.12 miles only 13.05 miles were uploaded. That, of course, freaked me out because I wanted to be counted as a finisher! In retrospect, I should have kept the Sportband on while I walked my cool-down – it’s what I do during my regular runs, after all.

Post-race soreness wasn’t too bad and I was able to do an easy 3+ miles on Monday.

I’m glad that I signed up for the Nike+ challenge. I’m glad that I registered for the race. I’m glad that I have a treadmill. The successful completion of this event makes me look forward to the half-marathon in April.

Happy Running!