Thursday, February 11, 2010

This Treadmill Workout Brought to you By the Blizzard of 2010

I woke up to an odd sensation in the bedroom this morning: sunshine streaming in.  Of course, the wind still howled outside, whipping the bare trees and stirring up what I can only call mini-snow tornadoes.  Nevertheless, the sun represented one thing to me: hope.  Hope that perhaps some thawing would occur and by God those snow plows would come out and we could see the asphalt again!  And most importantly, I wouldn't have to resort to running short loop after loop around any exposed asphalt or packed snow on the shoulders of neighborhood roads.

Each time I walked past my training program (which was a lot since I haven't left the house much this week), I tried to ignore the coming interval workout, knowing full well I wouldn't be on the track for it, but perhaps an outside chance I could use the 1,000m route I'd used in my last program.   What I feared was having to *cue ominous music* do my workout on the treadmill (or dreadmill, or hamster wheel, or any other accurate derogatory term for the machine).  

My wife and I went out at noon today to walk the dog and take stock.  Surprisingly, once we got to the main road running through our neighborhood, it appeared mostly clear, especially the sidewalk.  So that would give me about half the distance I needed.  The first half, however, still proved treacherous.  

Our walk turned into her and Mattie walking me down to the gym.  I actually had a dream last night that I was trying to use the treadmill for this workout but the tread was so narrow, I kept falling off.  Yes, the treadmill has penetrated my subconscious.  

My problem with the treadmill, beyond the monotony, which for me is arguably the worst part of it, is that perceived pace is so much greater than actual pace.  When I get on and dial up 7:30 pace, I have the sensation of racing, but when I step back -- figuratively of course -- I realize that my heart rate is barely elevated and my breath is steady.  I had the fear of being that guy pounding and pounding incessantly, sweat flying, trying to keep up.  I hoped that no one would be there, because who in there right mind would walk all the way up to the gym on a day like today?

I walked up the stairs, rounded the corner and to my horror saw several coats hanging on the hooks outside.  Apparently, seven other brave souls and most of them were on the cardio equipment.  There was still one treadmill left.  Lucky me.  

I stripped down to my shorts and t-shirt, an odd feeling in and off itself.  The whir of the machine started and I trotted along in a nice rhythm at 7:30 pace, telling myself to relax, that I wasn't working hard yet.  And that seemed to work, except with nothing to stare at except the pool, or rather, the pool below a couple feet of snow, that mile was patience was not.  The gym has tvs to look at but unless it's right in front of me, I find it too big of a distraction to turn my head and watch.  Again, fear of falling.

So, 7:30 later, after what seemed like a half hour, it was time to start the workout: 8x1000m run in roughly 3:41-3:52 and a 200m jog recovery, then 3x200m with a 200 recovery between each.  The workout stressed that the length of the workout not the speed should be the fatiguing factor.  I started the first at 6:50 pace (or goal marathon pace) and braced again...but it was fine.  In fact, it was easy, and thankfully quiet.  

On the next interval, I cranked it down to 6:45...more of the same.  Finally, I settled in at 6:29 pace and drew no more attention to myself than anyone else who was there.  Though, I'm sorry to say, I was that guy flinging sweat...kinda gross.  Actually, I was soaking wet when I finished.  This was also a phenomenon I'm not used to since it's been such a cold winter.

What I found was similar to adding an interval or fartlek workout into the end of a long run.  I focused less on where I was in my route (or the clock ticking up ever more slowly on the treadmill) and more on the actual interval.  It became more about completing the time or distance and savoring those precious seconds of rest than where I actually was on my route and how close I was to being done.

I was pumped when I finished.  I threw in a cool down mile which was pure drudgery but not bad enough to ruin the euphoria of completing the workout...without falling off.  I was surprised to see more than 50 minutes had elapsed on the screen.  I got down, a little wobbly, and tottered over to get a wipe to towel off the machine then threw in some core stuff.  

I walked home, the sun beating down on my face, and my shoes sloshing through the river running down the street.  My eyes had not betrayed me, I could see pavement.  Glad I got through the treadmill workout in one piece...but I'll see you on the road tomorrow.

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