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Posts Tagged ‘treadmill’

RIP Dear Friend

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Last night was the first night I really missed him.

May he rest in peace.

No, no, no. Nobody has died, not yet anyway.

I am in mourning not for a person nor pet. No, I am in mourning for my treadmill. After many years of service, the last three being fairly intense, my familiar friend TM has become injured beyond repair.

Like a horse with a broken leg, it may be time to put TM down.

His first injury was actually a little over a year ago when the elevation motor died. At the time I wasn’t too worried because I was training for an incredibly flat marathon (Smuttynose).

But it finally happened.

A few weeks ago, while trying to get myself back into the groove of running, I hopped on TM for a quick 8-miler.

You may ask, why didn’t you just go outside?  Honestly, as much as I love running outside, there is something very zen about hopping on a treadmill and being able to turn the brain completely off – plus, I find it a good opportunity to catch up on shows Jess doesn’t like on my DVR.

But I digress…

About 4 miles in I heard a loud “CRACK” and suddenly the ride got a little bouncy – not overly so, but I definitely felt like I was running on a small trampoline. As long as I didn’t run down the center of TM, it didn’t get too bad.  He had essentially split down the middle.  I was determined to get my 8 miles in, but I now had to run with my feet slightly apart.  The zen running was no longer very zen.  I did manage to zone out a little but as I passed 7 miles I started to hear a flap! flap! flap!.  I looked down in horror to see that the tread of the treadmill was coming apart at the seams.

It was time to stop.

At this point, I realized that TM was probably beyond repair, or that at the very least, the cost of fixing him would be more than simply replacing him.  Unfortunately, these are tough economic times, so a replacement will have to be held off for quite a while – as much as running is a necessity to me, a treadmill is a luxury.  Ultimately, outside running is better for you anyway, and I do enjoy time in the fresh air.

But last night, as I contemplated going out for a late-night run,  I realized just how much I will miss my dear friend TM.  We got our first snow of the year last night, and it wasn’t a children’s storybook gentle snow – it was a cold, hard, unpleasant snow.  As I walked the dog, I quickly decided that my run could wait another day.  As much as I needed a run, I didn’t need to be running in miserable weather.

And so I mourn.

Rest in peace dear friend.  You served me well.  Hopefully you are up in Heaven keeping the angels in shape.

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Where do you prefer to run?

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Soft.

Over the last 2 1/2 months I’ve put close to 300 miles in on the treadmill and because of that I am getting soft. The treadmill has made me a weaker runner this winter. The steel and iron have given way to fluff and dough. I no longer can honestly look in the mirror and see that hardened runner that looked back at me last fall. Running on the treadmill over the winter has taken that all away.

What’s that? How is it that I’ve managed to run close to 600 miles in 4 months and gone soft? How has my body responded in such an unexpected way?

…Oh, did you just ask about my body?

That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about my will.

Yes, it is not my body that has turned to fluff and dough – it is my will. And if I’m going to be completely honest, will is probably the wrong word. When I get into a race I will buckle down and fight. I will push my body as hard as it will go. I will walk away from a race knowing I ran hard. So it’s not that part of my will that has gone soft.

I’m having some trouble putting my finger on it. For the last few days, the weather here in Boston has been miserable – cold, wet and rainy. In fact, I don’t know if it has stopped raining since Friday. It didn’t really bother me on Friday. I was still high from my Thursday Lunch Half Marathon. But on Saturday I really started to get an itch to run. You runners know the feeling – the legs get restless, the horses want to be let out of the barn. I looked out my window and saw some kid running by. Normally, my first thought would be, Oh man! I wish I were that kid right now! But no. You wanna know what my first thought was? It was, Jesus that kid is nuts! It’s 32°, windy and raining cats and dogs out there!

I jumped back from the window.

What the frak was that? I asked myself. But it was true. It was 32°, windy and raining cats and dogs. It looked miserable. I was so confused. My legs and body wanted to run, but my brain was telling me, Not out there buddy. I did end up putting in 10 miles – in the comfort of my basement, on the treadmill, while watching 2 old episodes of Star Trek (yeah, I’m not afraid to admit it – I’m a total sci-fi geek). I broke a sweat, my legs were happy – as was the rest of me in the pleasant 68°.

I told myself not to worry too much about my earlier reaction and in fact told a friend that I might run 7 1/2 miles on Sunday to her first 5K to root her on and then run home. I knew it wasn’t going to be warm, but what the heck, it’d be an easy way to get 15 – 18 miles in with a nice little break in the middle. She mentioned that it looked like it was going to rain but I shrugged it off. I shrugged it off, that is, until I got up the next morning and realized that in was only in the high 30’s and the rain was even stronger than the day before. I wished her well on Facebook.

As the rainy day progressed, I found myself on dailymile and twitter, cheering on friends like Michelle and Pigtailsflying for the rain soaked long runs they were taking.  I’ll be joining you guys soon I would write, silently adding in my head in my basement, on my treadmill, in front of the TV, where it’s dry and 68°.

The final straw came last night as I was picking up pizza for the family for dinner. Both on the way to and from the pizza place I saw runners – true, hardcore runners – out there, putting in their miles. They were braving the cold wind and rain while I sat in the comfort of my car. I caught myself thinking, Man, those are some crazy runners!

And that’s when I realized that my treadmill had made me soft.

There was a time when I would have laughed at the weather and then run like it wasn’t there. That time is no more. Maybe I’ve gotten old. Maybe I’ve become wiser. But there is part of me that is very much afraid that perhaps, just perhaps, I’ve become soft.

I will run in the rain again.

I love running in the rain.

Just when it’s about 35° warmer.

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For my friend M

Continuing my treadmill theme, here is my Top Ten* list of shows I like to zone out to while running on the treadmill:

Prison Break (Fox – no longer on the air)

Chuck (NBC – returning in January)

24 (Fox – returning in January)

Numb3rs (CBS – Fridays at 10)

Rome (HBO – no longer on the air)

Fringe (Fox – Thursdays at 9)

Heroes (NBC – Mondays at 8 )

Lie To Me (Fox – Mondays at 9)

30 Rock (NBC – Thursdays at 9)

The Mentalist (CBS – Thursday at 10)

Last fall I would set the DVR to record my shows (4 of them aired on Mondays and 1 on Tuesday) and I was set for the week.

Some of you who know me may be asking, “Uh, dude? Where’s LOST and BSG? Aren’t you always going on and on about those two shows? How they are the best ever?” That is true. My two favorite shows of all time are LOST and the new Battlestar Galactica. But these two are far too involved to be put on the list – too much fumbling for the remote to rewind to hear a missed line or clue. I see Flash Forward joining this special list very shortly.  When I’m on the treadmill I tend to want fun, easy, popcorn entertainment. My wife calls it Pringles for the brain (though she’s usually referring to books).

Sadly, some of these shows are no longer on the air (Prison Break and Rome) and only available on DVD, but if you haven’t seen them yet, they are totally worth it.

I would love to hear what you would recommend when stuck on the treadmill.

* In no particular order.  The new V series may be joining the treadmill list, but with only 4 episode aired and the show not returning to the screen until February, I am withholding judgement either way.  Since Rome and Prison Break are off the air, it would probably replace one of those.

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Oh no!  Not the dreadmill…

– My friend Mollie when asked last Spring if I should run outside in the rain or on the treadmill

It’s been about a year now that I have been running regularly.  During that time I’ve had an on again off again affair with the treadmill.  The treadmill is what got me into running.

Last November when my wife proclaimed that she had signed up for a half marathon…on the Cape…in the middle of February…I decided that I was not going to let her run it alone.  Up until that point in my adult life I had run in fits and starts – a month here, a few weeks there – but never more than a couple of months at a time.  I was in relatively good shape.  At six feet tall and weighing in at 205, I was doing okay for myself.  I exercised sporadically but ate well.  The idea of 13.1 miles, never mind in the dead of winter, was daunting to say the least, but if my wife was going to do then I was going along for the ride.

So I started running.

I looked at the treadmill we had bought when we first moved into our house but decided to run outside.  A good friend from down the street had told me about a 3 mile loop in our neighborhood so I decided to give that a try.  I reached the halfway point in just under 15 minutes, gasping for air.  The realization that I had to do that all over again was awful.  Once I got home, I very quickly decided that until I got my legs under me, I was sticking to the treadmill where no one could see me.  It didn’t hurt that the weather was starting to turn and the fall television season was kicking into gear.  So I ran – 2 miles here, 3 miles there.  For about two weeks this was my training – 2 or 3 miles, 3 days a week.

Then something happened.  I woke up on a Wednesday morning with a mild headache (too much poker and tequila the night before) and contemplated skipping my run.  I thought of my poor wife running that half marathon* alone and dragged myself down to the treadmill.

3 miles in and I was actually feeling kind of good. 

Huh – maybe I’ll do one more mile.

After which I felt even better.

Let’s see if I can do five.

Wow!  I was feeling great. 

Alright, just one more.

Just as I finished the sixth mile I realized I had 5 minutes to pick up the kids from school.  Who knows how far I would have run that day.  Point is, something clicked.

I was hooked.

I very rapidly – too rapidly – went from 8 – 10 mile weeks to 20 then 30 then 40 mile weeks.  That 10% rule?  Yeah, completely ignored it.  I would eventually pay for my speedy rise in miles months later, but in the meantime I had found something that I loved.  I couldn’t wait to drop off the kids and then go home and pound out 6, 8, 10, 12 miles on the treadmill.  I would put my favorite shows on the TV and just zone out (it actually helped that at the time my wife was into shows like the bachelor and such because I’d end up having to record my favorites and watch them later).  On the DVR my favorite dramas would last about 44 minutes which turned out to be the perfect amount of time for me to log in 6 miles.  Double feature of Chuck and Lost?  Perfect for a 12 mile day.  I loved the combo of the treadmill and the DVR.  It didn’t hurt that in 3 months I lost 25 pounds.

But then Spring returned and the television season ended.  I finally discovered what running outside was all about.

Wow!

Having built up the leg strength and stamina didn’t hurt either.  How peaceful and meditative it was to be able to glide 6 – 10 miles outdoors.  Soon thereafter I discovered the Vibram Five Finger Unshoe (as my wife calls them) and that was it: the treadmill and I were officially broken up and I wasn’t ever going back.  The one place that I have found difficulty running in my Vibrams is on the treadmill.  It just doesn’t work for me.  So that was it – no more treadmill.

I ran all summer outside in my Vibrams.  I became a Vibrams/Born to Run apostle.

But then the swine flu decided to pay a visit to my house last week.  Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Oh, joy.

My wife was down for the count.  Kids were home from school.  I managed to get out of the house for one short run, but I was afraid to leave the house for a much needed longer run.

So I peeked downstairs and looked at our old treadmill.  I checked the DVR and whaddaya know, 2 new episodes of Numb3rs.

What to do, what to do.

I had recently done a short 5 mile barefoot run on the treadmill, but the mechanics of it just didn’t work for me.  I went to my closet, opened the door and stared at my old running shoes.

Ugh.  Really?  Am I going to put those clunkers on?

I did.

I felt somewhat ashamed putting on regular running shoes, but I had no choice.  If I was going to stay well I had to run, and I had to stay close to take care of the sick family.

In 7 days I put in 63 miles.  Yes, on the treadmill, in regular running shoes.   I know….the horror!!! It was a perfect storm of sick family members and early bedtimes for the wife.  If I was going to sit and watch TV while everyone slept, I might as well do it on the treadmill.  63 miles in 7 days and no pain.  I’m pretty sure that running barefoot style has finally fixed my form.

So are the treadmill and I back together?  Heaven’s no! But at least now I know I can fall back on her if the world conspires to keep me off the road…and maybe the regular running shoe isn’t quite as evil as I thought it was.

*We never did run the half marathon on the Cape this year, but with a couple of half’s and a full under my belt, I’m seriously contemplating doing the full.  Stay tuned.

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