A Case For The Treadmill

Excuse my absence.  Apparently having two little kids, coaching, and trying to keep life together is a full-time job.  I don’t know how parents of three kids even get out the door of their house!

Spring running is finally in full effect across the country.  After a late April snow dumped 20 inches on our yard, I was starting to feel like winter was never going to leave.  We had a bizarre winter in Michigan.  It was cold at times, but also warm.  It snowed, but it often melted and there were days in February and March where we had green grass in our yard.  Then April turned into a frigid, snowy mess.

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Mary likes watching the turkeys roam in our yard.

Between the crazy winter weather, and being a mom of a now 2 1/2 year old and 8 month old, it can be difficult to fit runs in.  Lucy was too young to run in the stroller, and the weather was too cold to push Mary.  Quite often, my only option was the treadmill when the girls napped or at night when they went to bed.  Thank goodness for Netflix.

A week ago Saturday, I toed the line for my first true race since having Lucy in September.  I felt pretty out of place at the start.  I had no idea what to expect.  I hadn’t run with a GPS in months.  I didn’t know what my pace would be or how it would feel.  I had nothing to base it on.

Plus, it was freezing and the wind was blowing like crazy.  Thanks, April.  Glad to see you go!

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When the gun went off, I just settled in and started running at what felt like a good, but sustainable pace for me.  Imagine my surprise when I looked down after the first mile and I was running well over a minute per mile faster than I expected.  I was running way too fast!  But when I checked in with myself I was feeling relatively good.  I tried slowing a little bit, but as we came to the halfway turnaround of the 10k, I realized I was nearly at the front of the pack of the race and also the first woman.

Mile after mile, I was running paces that were faster than I had ever run.  I felt pretty good until mile 4 when the Pop-Tart that I ate before the race started to make me feel pretty sick.  Who would have thought?!

I was beyond thrilled when I crossed the finish with a 10k PR.  I ended up 6th across the line and in first place overall for the women.  It was a much needed boost for this running mom.

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This was a special race for me, as it was also where I ran my first 5k, 27 years ago in honor of our neighbor who lost his battle with leukemia.  A few years later, his dad passed away and the race now is done in both of their memories.  They were also avid runners.  At my first race, I won 2nd in my age group by default as there were only two of us.

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From my first 5k

It was also the weekend of our town’s yearly festival.  Despite being super chilly, and super windy, the entire family had a great time.  I also need to add a huge congrats to Rock and Lucy who placed third in his age group on Lucy’s first ride in the BOB!  Stroller running is no easy feat.

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Running on the treadmill can be a bit tricky.  It will never truly replicate running outside.  Every treadmill varies.  They all feel and work in different ways that make them unique.  You may have noticed this when some models feel easier or more difficult to use.  There is also no added effect from wind or changes in terrain that challenge our muscles and endurance.

Pace is also a tricky factor with treadmills.  It is virtually impossible to run at your normal speed on the mill.  I always encourage runners to find the pace that feels right on the treadmill.  Don’t let the numbers dictate how fast you must go or frustrate you.  Just know that what feels right for you, is exactly what you need.

While a lot of people will say that the treadmill has little to no place in a training plan, that isn’t always an option.  Personally, I feel that you need to do what works best for you.  That can mean giving yourself permission to get your runs in on the treadmill.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this for 100% of your runs.  But again, you do what is right for you.

I’m finally enjoying warmer weather runs with my girls, and that presents its own set of challenges.  However, I certainly have the treadmill to thank for keeping me sane and fit this winter.  You might even say it made me a better runner.

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What are your thoughts on the treadmill?