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 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!