With all this icy weather, I have had to move my runs inside to the treadmill, or as I refer to it, the dreadmill. Running inside on the treadmill is preferred to risking a fall that could end my plans for the Tokyo Marathon. I have never met a runner who has been thrilled with the idea of running on a treadmill. It is one of those necessary evils – if the weather is too dangerous to be outside, you have to run on the treadmill. Back in December, 2009 when our 20-mile training run was snowed out, one of my teammates ran 20 miles on a treadmill. The rest of the team was amazed; none of us would have had the guts to do that.
I decided that if I was going to complete all my training runs for Tokyo, I was going to have to make running on the treadmill more tolerable. That involved making some changes in my set-up as well as seeing the positives to running indoors.
The indoor temperature can be a problem when running on the treadmill. I ran 5 miles last week indoors and was absolutely drenched at the end. I don’t think I sweat that much when I run outdoors in the summer heat. But the thermostat was set for 70 degrees, meaning it really felt like about 90. For my next treadmill run, I turned down the thermostat and set up a fan to blow on me. With the air blowing on me, I found out that I needed to keep lip balm handy to avoid chapped lips. I also stashed a basket of small towels next to the treadmill so they were handy to towel off as I ran.
Running outside is nice because there are lots of things to see – wildlife, other people, just the changing landscape. But it also means that my non-running spouse is at home alone. When I run on the treadmill, we can spend a bit more time together. Since I have a television by my treadmill, we catch up on all our favorite programs we have on the DVR while I run.
I usually have difficulty trying to decide how best to dress to run outdoors in the winter. I typically overdress and end up taking things off during the first few miles. Carrying those extra clothes ends up weighing me down. The nice thing about running on my treadmill is that I know how to dress – shorts and a singlet or a short sleeve shirt. If I do get too hot, it is easy to change into a different shirt, then hop back onto the treadmill. One thing that I did learn the hard way is that you can still chafe when you run on a treadmill. Outdoors or indoors, Body Glide is needed for every long run.
One of the big challenges for long runs is finding someone to provide water stop support. Not an issue for the treadmill. I filled a small cooler with water and Nuun and put it next to the treadmill. An added bonus is I don’t have to wear a fuel belt since the treadmill has a bottle holder.
Probably the biggest benefit to running indoors is the fact that you have no bathroom worries. I typically will plan an outdoor running route with the best bathroom coverage. When I run on the treadmill, I am only a few steps from a bathroom – and not a Port-a-Potty either.
There is only one drawback to the treadmill that I can’t change. My treadmill automatically shuts off when it hits 100 minutes. Fortunately for me the first time that this happened, I was watching the elapsed time as I ran and reacted quickly to avoid falling when it stopped. On the balance of things, this is an issue that I can easily handle.
In the past, I hated the treadmill so much that I use to run considerably slower on it than my outdoor running pace. Since I have changed my mindset about the treadmill, I am happy to report that I have taken nearly 4 minutes per mile off my treadmill pace. My pace, indoor and outdoor, is nearly the same.
I still prefer to run outdoors but at least now I have made peace with my treadmill. I no longer refer to it as the “dreadmill”. My treadmill is helping to keep me on my training schedule. Look out, Tokyo, here I come!