Tag Archives: Treadmills

Taking my medicine

Imagine a small child, lips pursed, nose wrinkled, eyes tearing up, head actually moving backward in disgust, as her mom tries to give her a spoonful of nasty-tasting medicine.

This is roughly the attitude with which I set out to do my speed workout this morning.

There are only two training weekends left before the National Half Marathon, and I’ve committed myself (in my head, at least) to running part of the course on a 10-miler next weekend. Which left me with only one real choice today: hit the treadmill, hard, for one last speed workout.

Oh, the excuses I thought of! I told myself it was too beautiful and sunny to run inside. Then, I told myself I’d have to find a good speed workout course outside. Then, it was back to Plan A, but I told myself I should mix things up and find a new treadmill workout. Then, after sucking it up and putting on my running clothes to head downstairs, I watched at least 15 minutes of “Balls of Fury” with Steve to stall even longer.

Finally, I sucked it up, made like a Nike ad and just did it.

Guess what? It was great! The kind of great that makes you wonder if the treadmill needs to be recalibrated or something. I had set out to do four one-mile repeats — one more than my standard three — at something like 7:30-minute-mile pace. I ended up doing more like an average of 7:15-minute miles, with long spurts of 6:58-minute-mile pace (superhuman for me, if I have to do more than one mile!). And check this: My iPod ran out of juice after the first three mile repeats. I went upstairs, recharged it so it would last another seven minutes, then WENT BACK DOWN and did my last one.

As hard as it was getting off the couch today, the feeling of “I ran four fast miles this morning, I can take on the world” is totally worth it. This all leaves me wondering why we spend so much time and energy resisting things that make us better, healthier and stronger.


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Mixing things up on the treadmill

It was back to the treadmill for another speed workout today. “Speed workout” has become synonymous with “set of three 1-mile repeats” for me, and that’s just what I did this morning.

I like the simplicity of doing one thing, three times, then being done. I also like the challenge of trying to run a whole mile as quickly as possible three times in a row (who can’t run their fastest for a quarter-mile? It’s over before you even get a chance to crank up the speed on the treadmill’s control panel). I also like it because it’s familiar. My training plan offers lots of interesting-looking options for speedwork, and I’m sure they’re as much fun and as effective as my current go-to workout. But it’s like trying something new at your favorite restaurant: The buffalo chicken sandwich is probably just as good as the veggie burger I order every time we go to the Quarry House, but WHAT IF IT’S NOT?

I’m still planning to order the veggie burger at Quarry House tonight. But next time I hit the treadmill, I’m gonna mix things up. I found a few good-looking treadmill speed workouts in Runner’s World, and I think I’ll try this one first:

The Broderick Crawford.

This workout gets its name from its “10-4” pattern, a familiar phrase to fans of the old Highway Patrol TV series. Begin by warming up for 10 minutes, then run for 10 minutes at your current 10-K race pace. Jog very easily for 4 minutes to recover, then surge again for 10 minutes at your 10-K tempo. Recover for 4 minutes, and complete the workout with 10 minutes of easy cool-down running.

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Hustle and flow

I had planned to try a new running route today, and was so excited about hitting the road, I actually laid out both my route and my toastiest running clothes the night before.

A combination of looming work deadlines and hearing that this morning was the coldest in the past five years in Washington left me indoors for a quick, warm treadmill workout instead.

I’ve already moaned and groaned about how I don’t like working out inside, so I’ll move right on to coping mechanisms. I get past the boredom of treadmill time by doing speedwork. My typical workout is three 1-mile repeats at 8-minute mile pace. I usually get through this with a kick-butt playlist of six or seven songs (the best thing about a speed workout, in my mind, is the fact that it’s over pretty quickly).

The get-through-it nature of treadmilling makes it a perfect place to try to get into that elusive happy place known as flow. Endurance athlete Christopher Bergland, author of “The Athlete’s Way: Sweat and the Biology of Bliss,” says this is “a key to making exercise a pleasurable experience, because it allows you to lose yourself in the moment–time flies, and you are totally engaged.” Some call it meditation in motion. Former Washington Post writer Walt Harrington writes beautifully about finding flow while hunting with his father-in-law in The Everlasting Stream. And today, on a treadmill that may or may not have been properly calibrated, I found it, too.

This is no easy task for me. My brain is, as Elizabeth Gilbert would put it, a “big, spazzy free-for-all,” where thoughts swing from tree to tree like so many monkeys. More often than not, it operates like a never-ending to-do list, always leaping to the next task
before I’m done with my current one.

So I started running to my typical gangsta-rap playlist. But after one Wutang Clan song, I moved on to a more meditative mix. I was sweating like a pig and panting like a dog, but inside, I was chill as I burned through three miles at 7:30-minute mile pace. I felt so good, I even turned it into a tempo run, nixing the jogs in between mile repeats (usually, when the mile is up, I all but punch the “stop” button on the treadmill to get a breather).

I can’t say for sure that the treadmill wasn’t calibrated incorrectly, like a pair of size-4 jeans you know should really be a size 6. I don’t care — for 21 minutes of the day, I was completely present and grounded, which is more difficult for me than any 7:30-minute mile.

Here’s the playlist that helped me find my flow. I especially recommend the last one on the list — let it wash over you while you’re running fast, and see if you don’t find energy you didn’t know you had.

Wutang Clan, Protect Your Neck
Dear Sergio, Catch 22
Two Step, Dave Matthews Band, Live at Red Rocks
Halleluja, Jeff Buckley
Moving to New York, The Wombats
How it Ends, DeVotchka


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