Friday, May 28, 2010

Mental Challenges

Every morning, I dutifully chug back a handful of supplements.

That's one multivitamin (Target brand), one fish oil, and two glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM. I've been regularly taking them for about a year. And I am pretty sure they do nothing for me, since my knees have not been miraculously cured -- but whatever.

It's funny. More or less ever since I started running, the treadmill and I have been BFFs. I find it much easier to pace myself. And it's climate-controlled! I always preferred doing my workouts on the treadmill. If I was running for 60 minutes or less, it was treadmill city for me. Period.

But running on a treadmill had always been the ONLY form of indoor cardio that I enjoyed. The elliptical, for example, was equivalent to torture for me. Same with the bike. And don't get me started on the stairmaster -- I used that thing one time in college, and NEVER AGAIN. But something about those machines just made time stop. I'd get a magazine to flip through, but it never really helped. My legs would burn and sweat would drip off of my face and I felt every single second tick by.

Running, somehow, was not the same. Usually I was done with my first mile before I could even blink. Another mile would zoom by and my warmup was done, and then whatever workout I was doing, whether it was short intervals, mile repeats or a tempo run, would be knocked out even faster. It's not like it was easy, of course -- I'd be working and huffin' and puffin', but for some reason, the time just flew by.

And then I took my most recent lil' running sabbatical. And something changed. Whatever little switch in my brain controls the "hamster wheel syndrome" just flipped. And now running on a treadmill has become a mental battle like I've never really had to deal with before.

I need to just get over it, because I do it to myself. I had one long, gouge-my-eyes-out type treadmill run a few weeks ago, and I honestly think that I've just let it get to my head. Last night, for example -- on my plate was a five-mile tempo run. This used to be the type of thing that I would hate to do outside, since I'd be concerned about keeping my pace steady and fast enough. But ALL I wanted to do was run it outside. Unfortunately, the weather report called for thunderstorms. On my walk home, and then while walking the dogs, I kept looking at the sky nervously. I checked the radar. I desparately wanted to avoid the treadmill -- "FIVE WHOLE MILES on that thing??? That's going to be so painful!"

But I didn't trust the weather -- running in the rain is one thing, but lightning and thunder is another completely. So, to the gym with me. And I didn't even TRY to think positive. I spent the entire first mile with thoughts of "OMG this is going to take FOREVER" and "it's OK, it'll be boring but you'll be fine when you're done!" NOT helpful.

And it is a mental challenge, you know? Because I can do these things. With a modicum of effort, sure. And you bet I stopped between the last three miles to stretch and release the lactic acid built up in my legs (I suppose the point of the tempo run is to learn to run with that damn buildup, but such is life), but it was significantly more of a mental battle than a physical one.

Run: 5 miles in 48:50, including warmup and cooldown miles at 10:00, and three miles at 9:22. Four thousand miles on my brain.

But really -- the main, number one, up-front mental challenge, of course, is GETTING THROUGH THIS DAY. Just a few more documents to draft and probably a frantic panicked afternoon of getting random things out of the way -- and then! Vacation! What are you guys all doing this weekend?


  1. I'm completely with you on this now. I used to ONLY ever run on a treadmill and now I can't stand it. 2 miles on a treadmill at PT feels horrible and so long, but 2 miles outside is like joy on earth. Ugh just need to get used to it again I guess.

  2. I just finished writing almost the exact same thing! I could run for hours outside but put me in a room with a treadmill and I feel almost claustrophobic and just want to get off!

  3. I trained for my first half almost entirely on the treadmill, and then started going outside when it got nice for the last two weeks. And now I HATE the treadmill!! Funny how that works, right? Great job getting the run in anyway!!

  4. For some time I only ever ran on a treadmill. Then I was introduced to an elliptical and preferred that. Now I can't stand either! Running outside for me, thanks.