Hi everyone! It’s time for another edition of Try New Things Tuesday!
This week I’m focusing on something that I’ve seen a lot of people talking about on Facebook and on blogs, and the consensus is that many people are too afraid to try this. I’m talking about doing a long run on your treadmill! I have to say that I’m not a super big fan of the treadmill, but it does have its advantages and it helps me get the job done (plus it gives me an excuse to watch crazy reality TV!). I did all of my training for my first 10k last spring on my treadmill, and did much better than I thought in my actual race, which was seriously hilly. But I’d never run anything more than 5 miles on my treadmill before…until last week, when my long runs were becoming a serious safety concern. The sidewalks in my neighborhood were covered in snow and ice, and my favorite long running trails were buried under a lot of snow. There’s only so much that my Yaktrax Run shoe covers can do to help me get through the snow in one piece, and they even say that they don’t work in thick fresh snow. So in order to finish the 10 miler that my half marathon plan was calling for, I really had only one safe option – and that was the treadmill. I bought a treadmill from Walmart 1 year ago and it’s one of the best things I ever did because now I never have an excuse to skip a run, no matter what the weather is! But I’d never run more than 5 miles on it so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.
I prepared myself for my first treadmill long run like all of my other treadmill runs: A massive bottle of water which my husband agreed to refill if I needed it, a bag of Jelly Belly Sport Beans with the exact amount of beans I would need to eat to get through 2 hours of running (3 beans pre-run, and 3 beans every 45 minutes), and a sweat towel because running indoors makes me super warm. I also had checked out what was going to be on TV during the 2 hour span of my treadmill time and discovered that Duck Dynasty was running a marathon. Don’t hate me for liking that show, you know Uncle Si is pretty awesome 🙂 and I really do like the fact that it’s a mindless show that I don’t have to think about too much, which is good for treadmill runs. I calmed my nerves by telling myself that I had a bathroom nearby and my husband was right there if I needed him. I set my treadmill to 12:00 per mile and then I began the longest run I’ve ever done!
The wise words of Si Robertson 🙂
I do have one big rule about treadmill running, which is to not look at the clock for at least the first 75% of the run. Most 30 minute TV shows have commercials every 10 minutes, so I’m able to get a general feel for how far I’ve been running and I only let myself check the time when I think I’m very close to being done. For this long run, I was going to need to refuel at certain set times, so based on my pace I planned to refuel during the second commercial break in episode #2 as well as the end of episode #3. One thing I noticed right away is that unlike my outdoor long runs, where I’m struggling to stay positive and I feel really sluggish and tired for the first few miles, I felt really awesome and never had a tired moment early on in my run. I barely thought about how I was feeling when the show was on, and only struggled minimally during commercials because I was surprised at how quickly time was passing. After episode #2, I was surprised at how well I felt since I was at the halfway point. I’m usually dead after 5 miles on the treadmill, but this time I was doing great! From that point on I began feeling optimistic about finishing those 10 miles. I wasn’t sure I could do it, especially indoors, but once I made it to the 1 hour mark I realized it was actually going to happen! Miles 5-9 were kind of a blur (although I remember mentally struggling a bit in mile 7 and asking my husband to refill my water bottle) and when I got to 9 miles it hit me that I was about to hit a huge milestone with my running! Andrew came into the room when I had a quarter mile to go, and he held my hand for encouragement as I gave it all the energy I had and finally finished my longest treadmill run ever!
I was so emotional about hitting double digits for the very first time! I actually cried a bit and took a moment to really let it sink in. I then walked for a bit before stopping to stretch, drink more water, and refuel. Despite running longer than I’ve ever run in my entire life, I didn’t feel as tired as I usually do at the end of a long run. I did feel pretty awful about 15 minutes after the run, but lots of water and some food helped me feel better.
I had so much success with my first long treadmill run that I wasn’t even bummed to see it was snowing last Sunday on my long run day! I hopped onto my treadmill for an 11 miler without any nervous feelings that usually come with a long run. This run was very different than my first long treadmill run – I had stomach issues and I was so tired, but I was very happy to have a bathroom nearby just in case. I had to stop and walk a lot, and my husband had to refill my water bottle twice, but I did manage to finish my long run in one piece and I actually recovered pretty quickly! I loved that I could jump right off the treadmill and into the shower without having to drive a long distance home, and the fact that a nice cold cup of chocolate milk was waiting for me right away 🙂
On my Try New Things scale, I give this a 5 out of 5!!! What! Yes, that is seriously how much I loved doing my long runs on the treadmill. Why did it get such a good score?
- You are in a temperature controlled room without any dangerous conditions on the “ground”. This is something that most people in the northern parts of this country can’t say on a long run right now!
- On that note, the warmth of my apartment mimicked the warmer temperatures that I’ll be running in during the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It’s important to train in similar conditions to your race, which is seriously hard to do when you live up north and your race is in the south! This helped me understand how running 10 miles will feel when it’s warmer outside.
- The “route” was super easy! I just stayed in one place and didn’t have to think about my route at all. When I run outside, especially in my neighborhood, I’m constantly thinking about my next move – where should I turn around? What areas are unsafe to run in alone? What areas have hills that I should avoid? Are there any cars around? These things honestly stress me out during a run and they take up a lot of mental energy. When you run in a race your route is planned out and there are no safety or traffic issues to worry about, so I loved being able to replicate that feeling on a treadmill. And I really loved the lack of hills 🙂
- There was a bathroom nearby if I needed it! As a fueling newbie I’m scared of my Sports Beans turning on me during a run, which would definitely cut it short. Not if your bathroom is only a few feet away from your treadmill!
- You can always get more water or fuel if you run out. It’s stressful planning what you need to bring along with you on a long run, especially if you’ve never run that distance before. It helped a lot to know that I could quickly grab anything I needed halfway through my run. It also helped that my husband was willing to refill my water bottle so that I didn’t have to 🙂
- Your pace is whatever you want it to be! I wanted to try for a consistent pace, so I kept my speed at 12:00 per mile and slowed down if I needed to walk for a few seconds. This is faster than the pace of any other long run I’ve ever done so I felt like I was pushing myself!
- Although this was on my “pro” list, it’s also a con: there were no hills. Knowing that the Disney Princess Half is 99% flat helped me come to terms with this, but if you’re running a hilly race you may not want to do all of your long runs on the treadmill because you won’t be adequately prepared. Luckily many of my shorter runs are done in a super hilly park so I was able to overlook the lack of hills for my long run.
- If you get bored easily or seriously hate being on the treadmill for more than 5 minutes, this probably won’t work for you. I would never have been able to do this without the help of my TV!
Overall I would definitely recommend long treadmill runs, especially to long-run-newbies like myself who are still practicing how much fuel and water go into finishing a long run. Running in a controlled environment took away many of the stresses that I normally feel during a long run, which helped me relax and enjoy the miles. Now I feel prepared for doing long runs and races outside because I know how much water and fuel to bring along, instead of just trying to figure it out for the first time out on a trail. Although I wouldn’t recommend doing all runs on the treadmill, I do think it’s a great way to log your long training miles when it’s not safe to do it outdoors or when you need some fueling practice. So for everyone out there who is worried about having to do a long run on a treadmill, get excited because there are a lot more pros than you think!
Have you ever done a long run on the treadmill? What is the longest run you’ve ever done inside?