We were still in college student mode when I convinced my husband to buy the treadmill. Our son was still little and I was overweight and stressed and I had enjoyed running in the past. We cobbled together a series of sales and coupons and snagged a killer Nordic Track with all the bells and whistles. The only place we had to keep it was the garage.
I used it, off and on. It comes with us and gets set up every time we move. Right now it’s one of the most prominent features in our living room. It’s there. It’s convenient and it makes it so easy to regulate my speed. I suppose that real runners, hard core ones, look down on treadmill running, but for me it’s hard to beat. The temperature is always ideal and, importantly for me, skin cancer survivor, it is always shady. I adore the thing.
But when I decided I wanted to run a 5k, I knew I needed to practice outdoors. I have horrible memories of setting off down the driveway only to find myself unable or unwilling or unmotivated to run more than two blocks. I don’t know. There is something about the wind and the elements and the BIGNESS of outside that intimidates me.
This time had to be different, right? I could run four miles on that treadmill and I knew that rhythm and how that felt, I could surely replicate that outside, right? So I sat down with MilerMeter and plotted out a course. I ingenuously devised a route that was a perfect loop and took me by my son’s school so I could stop on my way and have lunch with him. Score!
I laced up my shoes and headed out. I warmed up, I ran. I ran! I ran a long way! I ran up a hill! I ran past a construction site! I ran down hills. I got tired. I pushed through. More winded than I expected, I rolled up to the school. I’m a runner! A real outside runner!
For some it might be motivating to look ahead down the street and say, I’ll run to the end of the block and then the next and the next. For some reason, this mental trick does not work for me. Instead I say, hell, that’s a long way, I’m done. But this one day I did it. I told myself I was running to this school and I did.
I had several outside runs, including a pre-race prep on the course. It’s still not my favorite. I live in Kansas which means I am constantly battling winds, hills and of course, the sun. Now in winter there is wintery stuff and cold winds and insane sunshine. I still get unmotivated and stop to walk. I get annoyed with the arm band holding my phone and the unevenness of sidewalks and driveways and easements. I get frustrated when sidewalks switch sides of the street and I hate waiting for traffic. I’m still a runner, right?
I realize as a prepare for my upcoming 10k, that outdoor running is a different sort of challenge than the treadmill. I do attempt to replicate outdoor running conditions by always setting the incline to at least 1 on the treadmill. For more information about how to adjust the treadmill to match outdoor conditions and rates, check out this great fantastic chart.
Personally, run. I don’t care how you do it. Lace up and go. Which do you prefer? Treadmill or outdoors or something else?