Making peace with treadmill season

It first happened in a hotel in New Jersey. On Monday it was before a swim. By Tuesday ‘s interval workout it became obvious — treadmill season had arrived.

Yes, the treadmill. Or as I have called it in the past, the dreadmill.

When I first tried to start running a number of years ago, the treadmill was actually enjoyable. My intervals were walk-run with a heavy emphasis on the walk. My iPod was attached playing my favorite 1980s-era tunes and the random Britney Spears song. Once I ran for the length of an entire song. And a modern era full-length song too. Not something short and snappy by a 1960s female group or a quick diddy by Elvis Costello. Seriously, I was invincible for the rest of the week. Heck, I’ve completed an Ironman and I still swell with pride when reflecting on that accomplishment.

And that accomplishment happened on the treadmill.

My running has changed since then. I’ve run faster and further than I ever dreamed possible for someone like me, who was just playing around with this whole idea of being an athlete. I found friends to run with, some of them crazy, who took to the streets in heat, cold, ice, rain and snow. The option first is always outside, not because we’re tough or strong but because we’re a little dim and a lot crazy.

After running outside, the transition back to the treadmill is difficult. The knock against the treadmill? It’s boring. And well, yes it is. The scenery doesn’t change. Sure you can find a distraction with your MP3 player or by watching television but suddenly you realize just how slowly time can crawl by and how long that .1 of a mile  can be.

However, the treadmill and I need to become friends every winter. First off, western New York has no indoor track facility in which to do my speed work. So my 1000-meter repeats on Tuesday were done on the treadmill, converting the meters to miles and the prescribed time into a treadmill pace.

Occasionally, the speed work can be done on the road, measuring out the distance on a clean stretch of pavement. But the key is finding those spots where the snow and ice are removed, making it safe to have bursts of all-out speed. If there is a chance to fall, you can be sure I’ll find it. Which is also why some of easy runs are now accomplished on the treadmill. Right now, the roads in my neighborhood are still pretty sloppy, making it dangerous footing and even more dicey when you throw in traffic which sometimes drives a bit too fast and tends to slip, especially around corners and through intersections.

Could I be outside? Probably.

But there are times when I want a speedy, quality, no-frills workout with as much safety as possible.

And so this holiday season, I offer the treadmill an olive branch, an offering of peace, and recall the good times we had many years ago.

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