Sunday, November 22, 2015

Running on a treadmill: help, need tips, please!

I love the outdoors! If it wasn't for the pleasure of enjoying the fresh air, I'm not sure I would love running so much. Conversely, I hate running inside and especially on a treadmill. Thankfully, I live in a paradise from many aspects and, in the context of this running blog, not only for the perfect weather we have in the Bay Area but also the amazing profusion of trails around, from flat ones along the Bay, to hilly ones either East or West.

I've visited 49 countries so far and ran almost everywhere... outside! In Singapore, it was so hot and humid at times, that I used the hotel's treadmill from time to time but, otherwise, I ran in South Africa or Senegal even when it was deemed to be unsafe. I ran through Hong Kong and Shanghai. And many other busy places and suburbs, to the point of writing quite a few posts labeled "Running in...", see in the right margin. In Paris, I even had to cross the Seine one night on a bridge on the Périphérique, which is the highway going around the whole city, not meant for pedestrians, oops!

So, when I visited Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2011, I ran 22 miles across Riyadh, only to find out the next day that my local colleagues thought I was crazy because I didn't realize I could have offended some local officials and religious. This time, Agnès explicitly asked me to stay inside and, with the 11-hour time difference, and therefore jet lag, it was a good thing that the Double Tree gym was open 24 hours a day!

3 days after my 24-hour race, I was still recovering so didn't push the pace but, even at 8 min/mile or 12 km/h, it felt so uncomfortable bouncing on this machine, with all the noise that it makes. The first night, I couldn't go longer than 8K (8 miles), I was so bored, feeling like in a hamster wheel in a cage, and I really hate this idea/thought...

The second night, I uploaded a movie on my iPhone and that distracted me enough to go for 20K, not even to the end of the movie... 8 miles the following day and a half-marathon the 4th night. I really wanted to run more, but couldn't indoor, even while watching a movie on my small iPhone screen.

So, here is my question to you, if you manage to log many miles on a treadmill yourself, either by convenience or if you live in areas to hot, cold or humid to enjoy the outdoors: what are your tips to make that, if not enjoyable, at least bearable?

I hope to hear back from you, because, with the overall insecurity around the world, I may need to get back in the wheel and better get used to it to log a few of my miles occasionally. Thank you in advance!


Greg said...

I don't use a "dreadmill", but I own a water rower that I use for cross training and for bad weather days. I either watch TV or use the time to call friends and family. You definitely need something to break up the monotony of exercising on a fixed machine. Not as much fun as being outdoors.

M @readeatwriterun said...

I love my treadmill, run on it almost exclusively (I'm a road marathoner and have done a 50k as part of a timed race, gravel trail). You can do all sorts of different workouts very easily - speed, hills, etc. Easy access to fluid, nutrition and a restroom are pluses also, as is (if you've got it) temp control - make it as cold or warm as you like. I also open windows when it gets cold. I have a ceiling fan and 4 fans - stand fan and round fans on stools or other things - blowing right on me. That helps a lot.

My suggestion - podcasts.

When I first started running, I listened to NPR. Then music. Only occasionally did I watch a movie (Unbreakable, Hood to Coast, Ultramarathon Man, Spirit of the Marathon) and it was on a TV/DVD player some feet in front of the TV. I can't watch something on my iphone or read as some folks can. (the bouncing makes me queasy) but then I found podcasts. I probably have 30+ running or endurance related podcasts I listen to, and I'm always finding more. TalkUltra will get you through 3-4h per ep usually. Other ultra podcasts include UltraRunnerPod and TrailRunnerNation.

I've got an old list on my blog - need to update it to reflect the new podcasts I listen to (use the Downcast app) on my iphone on my commute or in a pinch if my old ipod shuffle isn't available.

Old list:

Some new ones I usually listen to on my phone: Science of Ultra (you might enjoy that), Athlete on Fire's Finding Ultra series, Ten Junk Miles, Ginger Runner Live,

Some folks like audio books (or non-running podcasts - NPR, BBC, etc.). You can search in itunes, and NPR now has a podcast finder. (people seemed to like Serial and Invisibilia and some other ones)

Carilyn Johnson and Liza Howard are two ultrarunners I know who seem to log a lot of treadmill time - my max so far is 25.2 mile, s 4+ hours.

Feel free to get in touch with me.

Jean Pommier said...

Thank you for the feedback and tips, Greg and M!
Here is an article which Stephane Marchand tweeted me: As the nights get darker and colder, thoughts of some runners and walkers turn to treadmill training. Dr Brian Hanley considers whether it is a good idea.