I love the sound of running shoes, the muffled hit of rubber when my stride is just right & I often run without headphones just to hear it & my sweat seems to drop with my breath. I love aching legs & burning lungs & the mental focus to stay steady. I adore running.
It’s just a shame that I’m so terrible at something I love.
Over the years I’ve attempted to create a habit of running, dreaming of half marathons but there’s always a voice that tells me I’ll never be able to do it & then I fail. I hang up my sneakers & fold my running tights & sit back down on the couch. I’m just not good at running.
In the fall I promised my little family that this winter would be different than the past few, that I wouldn’t retreat into myself with the waning daylight. I sat under my sunlamp throughout the work day, 6-8 hours per day. I took Vitamin D supplements. I picked my running shoes, logging miles on the treadmill several times per week. Running became medicinal for me & that kept me going for months.
Running Epiphany #1
As 2013 turned to 2014, I became incredibly frustrated with my runs. I capped out at .75 mile of continuous every single time – run .75 mile, walk .25 mile, run .5 mile, etc despite the treadmill reading a 12 minute pace. I asked my friend Rici for advice & she kept encouraging me to go just a little farther each day. The first few .80′s were victories but they waned until I had a new “stuck.” Then on a rare beautiful day in February, I opened Nike+ & went running through our neighborhood trails at my usual stride. At .75 with aching legs, I looked down & saw I was running a 9:35 mile.
A quick Google search confirmed that most treadmill readings are wrong & I’d been running a sub-10 minute mile for months. Problem was that my body wasn’t ready to handle that speed (fat & bad asthma lungs) & I needed to learn how to slow myself. (You should have seen the actual hand-to-forehead smack I gave myself for being so dense.) So I headed back to the treadmill, letting the ability to set my speed re-train me, a running sensor in hand. The first day of keeping myself at an 11 minute mile, I ran 1.25 miles non-stop easily. The second run was sub-11 minutes at 1.5 miles non-stop. Slowly over the past few weeks, I’ve been ignoring the treadmill & listening to my own stride & pace.
I’ve made more progress in 2 weeks than I made in 4 months.
Running Epiphany #2
Last week the sun shone & temperatures soared into the 70s, a welcome change from the long & cold winter. I took my shoes to the pavement, determined to soak up the last rays of the day & run 2 miles non-stop, using the change in scenery & beautiful day as motivation. Half a mile in, my shins started to throb. At a mile, they hurt so badly that I stopped to stretch. I walked them out, shook them, & the moment I picked up my pace, they exploded in pain.
Shin splints are a bitch.
& I find nature more distracting than inspiring while I run. Probably because I’m trying not to trip.
The truth is, I’m a treadmill runner & it feels like a shameful secret to tell. Real runners don’t run solely on treadmills, do they? Runners love trails & outdoor races & those little water bottle fanny packs. But I don’t love any of those things. I love the steady treadmill, the ease on my joints, not worrying about the weather. Being surrounded by others at the gym inspires me & yet I’m still alone, headphones blasting. Also this:
So I might be running my 5K on a treadmill, but I’m still running it. I think that’s worthy of running shoes.
I’m so eager to hear your own running stories. Are there any other treadmill runners out there? Or maybe you have something that you love to do that you’re just inherently bad at?