Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ice ruins lives

That MAY be a bit dramatic, but here in DC ice certainly puts a damper on the best-laid plans. I had a glorious plan for this morning that involved the 4th Metro run (from Northeast DC, as promised) and a bagel-and-coffee-celebration upon my triumphant return. Alas, last night DC was hit with a ridiculous ice storm of sorts, so I was relegated to just a bagel-and-coffee celebration of a two-hour delay at work. What can I say? I try to see the positive in everything.

We'll see what the weather (and by weather, I mean the sidewalks of DC, which are my true nemesis in this situation) have in store for tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I will have to use that most ancient and dreaded of torture machines, often used in the Tower of London to force false confessions out of Catholic idolaters, the treadmill.

I know, I know. It's gruesome. It's boring. It's noisy and you can't spit because there's nowhere TO spit, except on the gym floor and really that's not going to win you any fans or blog readers. But if you're going to train through the winter in the majority of the USA, it's a necessary evil (someone needs to explain this to the boyfriend, who is currently training for a marathon but is allergic to both winter AND the treadmill). I have a few little games I play on the treadmill to keep it interesting and keep me from falling asleep out of boredom and rocketing off the back of the belt, like my iPod has been known to do from time to time.

Anyone who has done any internet searching for run training has probably come across the word "fartlek." Swedish for "speed play," all it really means is stick some fast intervals in the run from time to time to mix it up and get the anaerobic system involved. Intervals are great for your running in general, building strength and speed, and burning more fat than a steady aerobic run. In a fartlek, they don't have to be even intervals, but for the sake of keeping my OCD in check, I do them evenly on the treadmill. I usually do a 10-minute warm-up, then 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds regular pace, or maybe one minute of each, or maybe 30 seconds fast one minute slow...it all depends on where I am in my training or how tired or unmotivated I am feeling in general about the treadmill. Sometimes I also go by distance, especially if I'm on one of those treadmills that has a little quarter-mile track on it and a blinking light indicates how far you've gone and how many laps you've done. Using the treadmill like this helps the minutes tick by fairly quickly and gives you something to concentrate so your mind can't wander off into space dreaming about not being on the treadmill.

For a longer run, I found an interesting post on one of my favorite women's sports blogs about a little game to keep your mind occupied when speed intervals aren't part of the day's training. Haven't tried it yet, but looks interesting enough and I'll try to put it to use this evening after work.

If anyone has any other ideas for staving off treadmill boredom, I'd love to hear them (and I WILL entertain suggestions like "Don't run." or "Watch TV instead." These are all viable solutions in my book).

Also, if anyone has specific suggestions on things I should see when I hit their neighborhood, I welcome those...this is a daunting project and expertise from those who know an area is certainly appreciated.

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