I never thought I would have such a hard time getting my first entry together or even come up with a topic to discuss, but then it came to me, as most of my good thoughts do, during a run, over the Holidays back in Massachusetts.
The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my training through the 2009 Boston Marathon and to discuss the many issues that will in all likelihood arise during those frigid morning and evening runs in the cold, biting air of New York and Connecticut, with lungs burning, heart racing and my thoughts squarely focused on a 2h50m time goal. It is during the first few weeks of my training that I came upon one aspect of cold weather/winter training that I absolutely cannot stand at all: the Dreadmill.
Reason #1: Recycled Air – The indoor conditions of any gym does nothing to prepare your body for the affects of the cold winter air on your lungs and if you train indoors and race outdoors that first race is nothing but hell and a slap in the face. Besides, where’s the fun in heavily breathing recycled air?
Reason #2: Funky Footfalls – Yes, “funky” is a technical term in this case. There is no substitution for your natural footfall outdoors. On the mill I find that my form and impact point are completely different and when I race outside I feel like I run like a duck. Not to mention the ridiculous bounce the platform provides … too much give.
Reason #3: Boredom – I consider myself a little bit of a running purist in that I will NOT run with headphones, iPod or anything else that distracts me from everything that is going on with my body and the World around me. If I am forced indoors onto the treadmill, long miles get really, really boring … correction, ALL miles are really, really boring. The closest way for me to replicate my outdoor focus is to wear a shirt with some image in the center of the chest so I have something to focus on reflecting back at me on the TV monitor, which is turned off.
“It’s a means to an end,” you say, well I have a little story to put the final nail in the Dreadmill discussion so we can all enjoy the rest of these Winter months.
On one particularly brisk, windy and vicious New England morning after what seemed like neverending snowfall I had an itch that needed to be scratched, having skipped three days of training. Yes, I was being a HUGE slacker and, to be completely honest, since the end of Fall marathon training I have had a particularly difficult time regaining the discipline I found so comforting. After listening to an excessive amount of bitching, moaning and an absolute magnum opus of whining, my mother told me to just take a 7-day pass for the local gym and go get it out of my system so they might have some peace and quiet from my laudable misery.
Taking her advice I grabbed the pass, slip-and-slided my way to Latitudes, formerly the Gold’s Gym where I played basketball in my youth, and took to the treadmill. Now, just to clarify things a little further, I HATE the Dread-mill with a passion comparable to my affection for the Dentist and all their little toys and this particular run brought my last reason into the forefront of my memory. Approximately two to three years ago I had the distinct privilege of being “that guy” at the 96th Street NYSC (New York Sports Club) when I oh-so gracefully fell and was shot from the treadmill I was rather pacily enjoying and spilled onto the floor. Oh yes, it was quite a scene.
Picture it, a post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas run indoors on a chilly Sunday around 1:30 or so. A full compliment of millers, stairmasters and elipticizers are on hand and the Patriots are on their way to the Playoffs on the TV. Now, mind you, this is still in the days prior to individual monitors for each machine, so there were only a handful of TVs around for our viewing pleasure and, much to my dismay, I was stuck at machine that possessed a slightly obstructed view and made it difficult to catch the score.
I’m hard at work and am maybe 2-miles into my run when I start to lean to my left to try and see the score. It is not the most comfortable feeling to lean on the treadmill while holding a 7:30 pace, so I am constantly trying to balance myself out, straightening my back and trying to maintain good posture, but in doing so I start drifting. Little by little I improve my viewing lie when it happens … my left foot steps on the stationary edge and my right foot falls in the center of the mill, spins my whole body and shoots me flying into the gap between my row and the row directly behind me.
“Oh God! My ass hurts! What do I do now? Get up like nothing happened? Are people looking at me? Do I act as if I tripped on nothing on the sidewalk and look at the treadmill like there was something wrong with it? Some magic impediment there that caused this spill of corporeal humiliation? How long have I been on the ground?”
With all that running through my head I think my reaction was perfectly appropriate … I started laughing, as I crawled to my knees, until a small volume of tears could be seen and my core was tired and sore. It was absolutely hilarious. Even more amusing was the number of people who laid witness to my majestic tumble and didn’t even break stride or smile but I know that as soon as I was gone or they bumped into someone they knew that this would be the first thing to come out of their mouths. I had achieved greatness and was now the topic of conversation for literally twenty or so people … Hot!
Please, for your own sanity and love of running, really hear my reasoning and consider what you are doing before you board a Dreadmill. I’m just trying to help you save your body and some face!