This week’s training theme contains a paradox:
The only thing worse than running on a treadmill is not having a treadmill to run on
It’s not like we live in some frozen hinterland like Yellowknife. But winters in New York can be hell. Or, rather, the opposite of hell. We’re covered in a massive sheet of filthy, frozen snow (otherwise known as ice). The running path is unplowed, the sidewalks unshovelled, and the roads narrowed due to meter-high piles of the stuff. Crazed drivers with phones clamped to their ears careen their hermetically sealed, high-center of gravity deathmobiles through the streets at high speeds, apparently blind to the delicate, vulnerable runners among them.
Needless to say, I spent six of seven days this week inside on the treadmill. Hating the treadmill. Yet appreciating the treadmill. Compulsively checking weather.com to see if we’ll ever get above freezing again. Feeling grateful for the Fox Soccer Channel, and cable marathons of “Law and Order: SVU” and “Dogfights” (don’t worry; it’s a show about aerial combat).
Week number three of my program introduced the first tempo run. I prefer to do these on the treadmill anyway, since I’m forced to maintain a certain pace — and, no walkers, cars or stoplights to slow me down! It went pretty well, although I couldn’t quite hold the pace I wanted and had to settle for about 10 seconds per mile slower for part of the run.
On a side note, I always feel as though I’m working harder on the treadmill. Since I have less “push off” (because the belt is pulling me back), I suspect that my strides are shorter and more frequent, which feels unnatural. But that’s probably a good thing since I don’t run with enough strides per minute. So this week, among other things, I used the treadmill to work on maintaining a stride rate of 180 steps per minute.
Here’s a handy chart I found recently that shows pace conversions for the treadmill vs. road.
In another screw-tightening move, Coach Pfitzinger scheduled a 14 miler the day after the tempo run. After hard days on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was dragging my ass on Thursday. But I felt surprisingly better after a recovery run (despite the fact that I was too feeble to go the whole six miles) and sailed through a 12 miler on Friday morning. Saturday was another little recovery run through the streets of Crestwood. Today’s run was 16 miles on the dreaded treadmill, with the final five at marathon pace (8:00) or quicker. I decided to do it inside because it’s rainy and very windy outside, and I really needed today’s run to be productive, not one where I’m battling the elements.
This morning’s session actually went very well. I’ve been doing so many long runs lately that 16 miles isn’t a big deal at all anymore. The final five certainly felt like an effort, but I had no problem holding the pace and ran the last half of mile 16 closer to half marathon pace. My heart rate drifted up from 82% to 89% during those five miles. The top end is too high to sustain for an entire marathon, so I have my work cut out for me.
I also thought I’d take the opportunity to experiment with fueling on today’s run. I tried my first gel ever (Hammer “Tropical” flavor with caffeine) at mile 10.5 to see if my stomach would rebel. No problems, and I definitely felt a lift in energy starting around mile 12. I have two half marathon races coming up (one in late January and one in late February). I think I’ll try gels on one and Gatorade on the other and see which method works better for me.
Both have their advantages: with Gatorade, you don’t have to carry anything. But with gels, you can use exactly what you know works for you and as long as there’s water you’ve got what you need. I’m also completely uncoordinated with the paper cups and I’d much rather spill plain water down my front than florescent liquid.
A look back at the week:
- Monday: 6 miles, recovery pace
- Tuesday: 10 tempo run, miles 5-6 and 8-9 at 7:35-7:45 pace, easy pace for the rest
- Wednesday, 14 miles, long run (steady) pace
- Thursday, 5.6 miles, recovery pace (dog tired!)
- Friday, 12 miles, long run (steady) pace
- Saturday, 6.7 miles, recovery pace
- Sunday, 16.2 miles, long run: first 11 at long run (steady) pace, last 5 at race pace or faster
Total mileage: 70.5 miles
Paces this week:
- Tempo: 7:35-7:45
- Long: 7:50 – 9:00
- Easy: 8:35
- Recovery: 9:45 – 10:00
- Marathon: 8:00
This week’s quote:
I’m sick of the treadmill.
— Andrea Martin
Coming up in training week four: A 10% mileage increase plus my first “doubles” day. Oh, and Christmas too.
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