I truly admire all of you out there who can plug big miles on the treadmill. Just this morning my companion Sue texted me that she’d covered an hour on the belt, a triumph because she’d tweaked a glute muscle in last weeks’ early morning speed session. That injury likely came about because we’d ridden hard in a Computrain session on the bike the night before. One of the risks of indoor training is that you might not give yourself enough time to recover. It’s easy to remember a hard effort when you’ve cranked out 40 miles hard on an outdoor ride. Indoors you might remember nothing about the ride except the colored bars indicating percentage of effort.
The dry winter air doesn’t help either. It’s easy to get dehydrated and not know it. And perhaps that was my condition going into last night’s workout. I ran a couple miles on the treadmill and it wasn’t much fun. To make matters worse, the television on the treadmill would not change channels. Perhaps I could have jumped over to another machine. Somehow I did not think of that. My program was already rolling along and my heart rate was up. I was in that weird focus where you’re not really thinking. You’re just doing. Nike isn’t so smart about some things. So I just kept going.
25 minutes on the treadmill is not a shame. I ran 8:30 pace once the body warmed up, but that was a chore. The temps outside were near zero and frankly my toes were cold after walking in from the car, and my feet were stiff. You really don’t want to jump on a treadmill and start running in that condition. The running motion on a treadmill is difficult enough to maintain without dealing with malfunctioning body parts.
Plus some weird thing happened to my right shoulder on the way driving to the health club. Again it was likely the cold that caused what felt like my rotator cuff to tweak. Honestly it might have been the product of a day spent on a writing project. That combined with a manic session of guitar playing between writing sessions might have tightened that shoulder ligament. All it took was a walk into the cold night air and “OW!” I was in pain.
So that took some of the verve and enthusiasm out of my training last night. I just don’t push it when something like that has happened. Often it’s a sign that other aspects of your body are off kilter as well. One of the thing you need to watch when you feel a cold coming on is your back muscles. It’s a strange thing, but something occurs at the cellular level throughout your body when a common cold approaches. There’s a tension to your muscles, and the middle of your back is one of the places that can occur. Of course, a violent sneeze never helps things either. It’s best to watch it when you feel like that. A back spasm can put you out of action for days. There’s nothing to gain in trying to fool your body into a hard training state when it needs to recover.
Rather than push myself through phases like that, I’ve learned to forgive my body and let things warm up well. The first ten minutes on the treadmill saw me covering just over a mile. Alright, it was time now to dial things up. You push buttons and make yourself go faster. How hilarious is that, really?
I used to run very fast on treadmills. 6:00 pace or even 5:00 pace is rather fun when you can do it. Flying along in one place, feet kissing the belt as you go. But then there was that incident where a pretty girl walked up to ask me if I’d be long on the treadmill, and I got distracted, and fell to the belt, which slammed my shoulder and sent me flying feet first through the wall behind. True story. And I’m not embarrassed. Well, sort of. She was really cute. And I was pretty stupid.
So it is with some consternation that I step on the treadmill to this day. It’s just never been a big component of my training routine. If I can run outside, I do. Zero degrees isn’t that bad if you wear proper headgear and gloves. The body itself is never that cold. Not once you get moving.
There will be a few more treadmill running sessions before winter is done, and lots more on the Computrainer, I suppose. This is a mechanized world of fitness we occupy. You simply can’t keep up with others in terms of fitness unless you learn to run and ride fast in the same place. Modern problems, we must suppose. A tarsnake of technology.