Running toward nothing, everything; my time on treadmills

If someone were to alter the lyrics of Michael Sembello’s one hit wonder “Maniac” and replaced “dancing” with “running,” it could be my theme song. Because seriously, I’ve been running like I’ve never ran before!
If you recall my first post of this year (or if you don’t recall, I’ll recall it for you I had a list of things that I wanted to achieve for 2011. So far, I’ve scratched them all off my list except for two. One of them is to try something new in the sportsy/outdoorsy department and the other is running a half marathon.
As someone who doesn’t make lists, I think it’s pretty fantastic that I’ve managed to power through this one. 
Anyway, I’m working towards the half marathon. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I joined a running club at my gym as a way to stick with training. The club’s goal is to run a halfer at the end of this month. The downside, which was actually also what enticed me, is the 5 a.m. meet-up time. Waking up early and getting my miles in before I officially started my day sounded like the best idea ever. It was like cheating! Because who wants to go to the gym after working all day?! Well, I hate waking up early. And I hate going to bed early. So already you see how this is going to be problematic. For two months I met with the group and ran with them. Amazingly I stuck with it. And then I moved kind of far from that gym and it became ridiculous to drive out there in the morning. So back to running after work! Yes, I could have just ran at my new gym in the morning, which is one mile from my home, but the thought of waking up early depresses me.

After the Cork Town 5k with my brother Dave. What does he listen to at the gym? Jazz. I haven't tried that one yet.

So far, a few pretty neat things have happened from January until now regarding me + running. First of all, the training provided in the running group has all been heart rate-based. So to start out with this training I took a metabolic test. For that, a mask was strapped on me and I did all kinds of running tempos on the treadmill. Data gathered from that determined my heart rate zones. For the better part of 10 years I have been a runner. Not really consistently, just something I do mostly during the summer months. Because of that, I jump into my higher heart rate zones really quick and into my anaerobic threshold. The goal is to stay in the aerobic development and aerobic endurance zones. But because of all my years of running without a heart rate monitor or any clue about heart rate training, it was difficult to stay in those lower zones –  my body wanted to go right to my higher zones! Many times during our training sessions I’d have to slow down to a walk to get there again. It was so annoying because I knew that I could just keep on running!

Here’s a little tidbit on heart rate stuff. If you don’t care, just skip this! It’s just me being informational. And btw, I’m no expert.
The reason why heart rate-based training is so beneficial is because you’re better utilizing your own resources. You can’t run for long distances at your anaerobic threshold because you’ll eventually run out of sugar. But if you keep it to the lower zones your body will happily run along, using fuel from fat and carbs, which lasts longer than sugars anyway. The gym I go to, Life Time Fitness, breaks the zones down by numbers. I’ll use me as an example: So zone 1 is my Active Recovery and there my heart rate is between 124-134. Zone 2 is my Aerobic Development with a 134-155 bpm. This zone builds up my fitness base. Zone 3, or Aerobic Endurance is 155-176. In this zone I’m building endurance. Zone 4 is the Anaerobic Endurance from 176-186. Zone 4 is great for interval/tempo work. Anything over 186 is just speedwork for me. *Fun fact* zone 2 teaches your body to burn calories more efficiently and in zone 3 you actually burn the most.
So with the training, I alternate between zones at two minute-one minute-two minute intervals. That number and the zones are switched up every time.
But now I can see how the training has paid off. I can run for about three miles in my zone 2 and then after that, stay nicely situated in zone 3.  
I will be honest, it was quite the uphill battle for me to muster up any kind of enthusiasm for the treadmill. I even bought an audiobook. I thought, what a great way to “read” some books that look interesting. A few friends recommended Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” and I thought it sounded like a perfect book to listen to while running. The book is really good! But I had trouble paying attention to it. I found this to be surprising because what else am I doing? I’m running. Talking to no one. On a treadmill. With headphones on! Evidently, my mind likes to wander. It likes to run and jump on all kinds of topics and thoughts. Listening to a book was ruining its good time. And so back to music I went. My go-to album, the one that I always listen to first, every time I run, has been Bloc Party’s “Silent Alarm.” The beat on most songs is perfect for running. At about 53 minutes the album ends and either I let it play again, or go on to something else. At about that time I need to restart the treadmill anyway, because after an hour they time-out, so it’s a nice chance to pause, have a drink and change things up. Or not.
I guess I’ve made peace with the treadmill. I look forward to my alone time with Bloc Party and the miles I log while my caged-up thoughts are allowed to run free. Although I probably could get a few more Bloc Party albums to add to my playlist…
In the meantime, I ran a 5k with my friends and brother the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. I’m glad I have so many running-minded friends. Often we chat about how our running is going, our shoe situation and what our next 5k should be.
Speaking of shoes… I already ran through one pair! I scored a great pair of Mizuno shoes that are like clouds for feet, and at half their usual price.
As for the other things I said I’ve accomplished from my January list, I will have to make a post about that. It’s a new artistic medium! I’ve gotten a little behind with maintaining Shine Life. I’ll try to be less negligent!

A few years ago my friend Lisa and I decided to train for New Baltimore's Jingle Bell Run 5k. We even blogged about it. This pic is from there and while it was an accurate depiction of how I felt back then, thankfully it isn't any more!



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3 responses to “Running toward nothing, everything; my time on treadmills

  1. After talking to a friend that trains for triathlons and is preparing for a halfer and reading your post, I’ve found there is so much to learn about the art of running. I don’t consider myself a runner, though I really enjoyed the 5k. I think I might start looking for a running group to keep me motivated.

  2. Ha! I remember taking that photo — it seems so long ago! Congrats on the impressive running progress!! It seems like you’ll be finishing your New Year’s list ahead of schedule, so you might want to throw “Visit China” on that list, too 😉

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