Getting Started

The Break Up

No, not the movie kind.

And, thankfully, not the heart-wrenching kind.

I’m talking about the treadmill kind.

Breaking up a run on a treadmill to make it more bearable.

If you are someone who has no trouble hopping on a machine and going for miles like the Energizer Bunny, I salute you.  That’s a big accomplishment in my book.

Personally, I am all about running outside.  I live across the street from Chicago’s Lakefront Path, one of the best in the country and offering miles and miles of uninterrupted room to run. Even complete with drinking fountains every quarter mile or so.  #spoiled

At the same time, my threshold for running outside is usually 35 degrees… While I know that is about to change for long runs, my alternative is a basement treadmill.  Because, winter is coming…

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I feel you, Jon Snow, that’s how I feel about it too…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really grateful to have access to a gym.  It’s awesomely convenient and has all of the basics for a great workout for free 99.

However, your views are limited and my attention span doesn’t lend well to distraction-free running for 45 minutes.

So my solution?

I break up the minutes with the glorious gift of “Speed Interval” mode.

Yesterday, I ran 5 miles on the treadmill.  In our mini gym we have 3 machines for each TV and the guy next to me already snagged the one closest to it and claimed it for the Real Housewives of some city.  Outside the windows is our courtyard between buildings covered in snow and with a few leaves flying around.  Boring to say the least.

But this is a sweet spot for strengthening mental endurance as well as physical fitness.

Using the Speed Interval, I usually set my jog pace somewhere between 6.5 and 7.1 (8-9ish minutes per mile) and my sprint pace at 8.5 (7:03 minutes per mile).

Then the break up begins.

Starting off with my Jog Speed, I go for about 3 minutes or whenever I reach .35 miles completed then crank it up to Sprint Speed for a minute, which usually gets me to half a mile (or go over a minute until I reach that half mile mark, because we are going for the gold here!).  After that, we are back to Jog Speed and a minute later, I give myself a swig of water and go at it again, this time starting the sprint at .85.  Repeat for as many miles as you like.

It’s not complicated.  But it keeps my mind on the next interval, the next minute before I toggle between the next speed or get a 5 second water break.

It’s looking at the baby steps that get you to the finish.  And that’s all a run or race is – a series of small steps toward a bigger goal.

It’s amazing how quickly the “oh sh**, I’ve only got a mile to go!” moment comes.

45 minutes is daunting.  But I can do 3 minutes. 1 minute. And repeat.

This isn’t rocket science.  It’s not a new idea.  But it’s my sanity saver.  And when it’s cold out or you are trying to increase your miles indoors, perhaps it’ll be really helpful to you while you strive for your goals, too.

Here are some suggestions for upping the challenge if you want:

  • Adjusting the time you spend in each pace
  • Increasing the incline
  • Increasing the speed a few tenths each minute during your Jog

Feel free to add more suggestions in the comment box.

For work, I visited a marathon trainer, Denise Sauriol (@meyouand262) who has run an awesome number of marathons across the US and even in Antarctica.  I could have talked to her for hours.  One of her comments that stuck with me the most was how much a marathon is about mental strength as it is physical.

So go give yourself a mental workout.

I’m off to do 8 on the ‘mill.  Check ya later.

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