It's funny how cyclical my running has become. When I first started, and I was running 2-4 miles max, I ran outdoors predominantly. Then I had a major setback and was pretty much scared into the gym. But also I got into intervals and those I can only do on a treadmill. Then, at the start of this year when I started running longer and longer distances, I went back to running outdoors.
I just got back from the gym, where I ran my first non-interval distance run on the treadmill since... I can't remember. Sometime last year.
I remembered some of the challenges running on treadmills can bring as well. Now, many people knock treadmills as an easier way to get in a run but to me, running on a treadmill is dangerous and very challenging. At any time, you can hit the stop button and step off the treadmill. I can't hit the stop button on an outdoor run. Sure, I can stop I suppose but then I'll have to walk back home.
Not at the gym. Stop, step off, forget about the run. It's right there. It's so tempting.
I wanted to stop today. Multiple times.
I'd intended to run five miles. Since I'm running 13 on Sunday, I figured running five was the least I should do. Three was out of the question and more than six was probably too much. So five fit the bill.
I got on the treadmill, ran at an easy pace and then at about a mile cranked it from a 6.4 to a 7.3. That's fast for me, and my heart rate reflected that as it went from the high 160s all the way to the low 180s in a relative short amount of time.
I got to mile 1.90 and wanted to stop right there. Five miles seemed like an eternity and I didn't know how much I had left.
If I was outside and I saw on my Garmin that I was at 1.90 i don't think I would have thought twice about it. But on the treadmill, it's quite different. Miles seem longer, the time seems slower and that's just a terrible combination. But I pushed through it, got to mile 2.5 and then soon after pretty much decided to throw in the towel. I'd get to four miles and then that would be that.
A little later...
"I'm trying to get to three miles in under 30 minutes."
"Wow! That's great! You're almost there!"
I looked around. Noticed that the guy a few treadmills down, the guy who had gotten on the treadmill after I did and had been running hard the entire time he was on, was talking to his female companion.
I looked down.
I don't know exactly what I felt. It was a mixture of emotions: Excited, because here's a guy who had a goal and was determined to meet it; Enthused, because setting goals has always worked for me; Ashamed, because I was going to quit a mile before my time but that guy wasn't going to quit early.
I pushed through. 3.92 gave way to 4.06 and then 4.22 and then 4.36... all the way to 5.0. Eventually, I ran until the clock read 48:00 and my distance had reached more than 5.25 miles. After a two-minute cool-down walk, I had ran/walked (but mostly ran) 5.41 miles.
That last mile was not bad. In fact, it felt great. I was getting into my rhythm. Because I'd cranked up the speed to 7.3 (I went down to 6.8 just before the fourth mile and finished on 6.4), my heart rate was elevated. My average heart rate was 177 with a max of 185. Those figures would destroy me on Sunday, but they worked well on a shorter run. But the last mile, I was in my groove, my comfort zone, where I long to be on all of my runs.
Physical challenges are ever-present, and can be rather difficult to overcome. Heel discomfort, nipple pain, muscle aches... you name it. But it's the mental part of runs that are just as challenging too.
In that sense then, I had a complete, all-around workout today. And I came through for myself.