Tag Archives: treadmill

Halloween Workout: Fighting For My Life

As I went about the preparations for my Halloween workout, I was startled by a squeak resembling the sound of a hinge on a door being opened slowly. I whipped around expecting one of the boys to be standing in the entrance rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, but the entrance was vacant. A cool breeze blew across my neck even though the door was closed just as I had left it.

Turning back to turn on the treadmill, I heard a bang on the outside wall. I peered out the window to investigate. All I could see was a frightening reflection cast from the glare of the CF lights on the glass. It was the scariest reflection of all, my own.

I know the noises were only a coincidence but my heart rate was elevated before I even started my warm up. I transitioned into dynamic stretches that loosened my joints and muscles. I checked that all my parts were working and that nothing had been possessed a la Evil Dead 2. I appreciated being limber and ready just in case the squeaking and banging were actually coming from otherworldly demons forcing their way inside.

The treadmill made enough noise on its own to cancel out invading aliens. I hope it holds out for another winter because I really need to build up my endurance if I expect to outrun a two-headed man from somewhere in Betelgeuse who encourages the consumption of Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters. In preparation, I cranked that treadmill up to a whopping 5.5 mph.

20121101-155327.jpgZaphod on by mrjuju125deviantART

Just in case I get cornered by Frankenstein’s monster while running along side a decrepit castle, I also polished up my fighting skills. I sized up the heavy bag imagining it was the monster. Of course, it was smaller than Frankenstein’s monster but I’d rather practice a few quick jabs there than break my hand on a tree. I’d be a sure goner fighting with a broken hand against a man with hands the size of a Yugo.

It was a tenacious Halloween workout that I approached as though I was fighting for my life which in reality I actually am.


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Stop Before You Get Started

When the boys were very young, a friend shared sage advice about having them ride snowmobiles.

“You need to make them get off the snowmobile before they want to so that they are really excited to ride the next time.”
– R. Grivins

I haven’t been running much this year. It started out with trying to resolve some aches and pains but spiraled into doubt and depression. I wasn’t sure I’d run again but worse, I didn’t really care that I hadn’t run.

The other night when all was quite except for a mouse and me, I went to the treadmill. I knew that I would never get up in the morning to exercise, the best use on my time right then would be a 1 hour walk on the treadmill.

Most people dislike the treadmill because it’s boring to run in the same place. Mostly, I agree. Yet, on this particular time, I loved my treadmill. Because I become bored on the TM, I started running short intervals. I can’t even recall the last time I went running before this. I’d lost my running mojo, yet, here I was running, again. Every time a short interval ended, I wanted to run more. The short intervals were just too short, and I couldn’t wait for the walking intervals to end so that I could run more.

R. Grivins was right. I had to stop running before I wanted to. As a result, for a first in long time, I am excited about going running again. Even if it has to be on a treadmill.

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In The Morning

This is how I see myself in the morning, on the treadmill, barefoot.


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My Go To

Realizing that the conversation was not going to go the way I had hoped, I said good-bye to John and headed out of the lobby. My frustration was boiling over like a full pot of potatoes. There was the small consultation prize of knowing he agreed with me but he wasn’t planning on doing anything about it. John is a pleasant enough person to be in the boat with but I had the feeling no one had pulled up the anchor. I was done with it all.

I need to release tension. I wanted a drink. No, I wanted my Go To.

Ten minutes later, I’m walking into the fitness room in exercise clothes that had seen skinnier days. Never mind, I thought to myself, I dare anyone to say something. After all, this night wasn’t about the clothes, how I looked in the clothes, or even how I could look better in those clothes. It was about going to my Go To.

I’ve got my arms and legs pumping. I’m striving for something. I press myself to go faster, urging my body to work harder. I’m searching for a feeling, a physical representation of the mental frustration I endured earlier. I need to feel exhaustion in my lungs, my legs, and my arms. I need to deplete my energy reserves. I need to run.

Finally, I’m done. I’m gasping for breath. It’s a struggle to walk normally. Plus, it’s late in the evening so I rid myself of the salty residue and climb into bed for sweet oblivion.

The next morning, I feel so much better. It’s as though my body tapped into my frustration as though it were fuel for a race or a recovery drink or both. I am rested and optimistic. My head is clear, and I am ready to conquer the next obstacle.

I have running. It’s my Go To.


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Treadmill Smiley

It’s the first (now second) day of winter. As a runner in the northern hemisphere, I am happy for the first day of winter because it means it might actually snow soon. Plus, it means early morning daylight is on the horizon. Until either one if these magical events happen, I will carry on, plodding my way through winter on a treadmill.

Almost every runner hates their treadmill. I think hate is a strong word but wouldn’t bestow a BFF title on my treadmill either. I don’t hate the treadmill because I have learned there are ways to make a treadmill run smiley.

Treadmill Method #421
(I like choosing random three digit numbers to number my methods because it insinuates that I have more than a thousand different ideas, and I just pulled a random idea out of a hat for today’s post.) First off, when I want to run four or five miles, I am not obliged to run them consecutively. Second, being able to listen to music while running on the treadmill eases the agony of running into the oblivion. Although I list music as a runner-up, listening to music is really treadmill method #1. However, method #421 is a modification of method #1 so music gets secondary billing under this particular method.

How Method #421 Was Developed
The hotel had a “cardio” room instead of a fitness room. I asked where the fitness room was and was corrected with “cardio” room making me wonder who sued them over that terminology. Tomato tomahto as long as the room included a treadmill.

The hotel employee led me to the ‘restricted’ area of the hotel. The sign on the door stated “Employees Only”. My first glance was of a dimly lit room. It was narrower than a regular guest room but wider than a standard closet. There were no windows, clocks, or pictures. A treadmill, a stationary bicycle, a stair master, and an armchair were lined up one in front of the other. I suppose armchair quarterbacks come here for their super bowl preparations? The “cardio” room was a pinch creepy but functional.

As a rule, I spend the warm-up period gleaning a method to keep the treadmill from extracting my spirit. Acknowledging my dour surroundings, I opted for a less routine method, #287, referred to as non consecutive miles. It’s perfect for when I need mental breaks through that hour’s length of time. I would fill the gaps with push-ups.

Love Shack by B-52s was pounding in my earbuds at the leading break. I was into the tune enough that instead of pressing my nose into a sketchy carpet, I descended from the treadmill and started grooving. Sure, there wasn’t much room and my only partner was a armchair waiting for someone to turn on a TV, but the music was in my soul. If there were any security monitoring cameras in the”cardio” room, they would have witness Elaine inspired dance moves.

The following break time came before a good dance song had started playing. Hence, I continued running for another 1/4 mile as I skipped through songs until I located the right beat. Once more, I dismounted the treadmill and grooved like a funky cat.

I spent an hour in a run/dance combo. I fulfilled four miles with an impression of having executed only one mile. I ran and grinned. I had fun and was joyful that I’d found the dingy “cardio” room.

Official Method Descripition
Method #421 – Dance Interludes

Purpose: To Treadmill Smiley

Scope: To complete an enjoyable treadmill run while maintaining an elevated cardio rate for the duration of the time allotted.

Safety: Safe treadmill procedures are to be followed at all times using this method. This includes wearing the appropriate clothing. Shoes may not be necessary when running on a treadmill.

Terminology: Stint is the length of time spent running. Interlude is the time between stints when you dance.

1. Separate the target run length into short mentally manageable stints.

2. Run the stints at a speed to elevate your heart rate but reserves booty shaking energy.

4. Select a booty shaking or foot stomping song from your ipod in the interlude.

5. Select random play on your ipod.

6. Continue the interlude for as long as random play selects booty shaking or foot stomping songs.

7. Repeat steps 2 – 6 until run length or time allotted is culminated.

Have a Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Go Run Smiley!

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Tonight, I found it incredibly difficult to maintain the Run Smiley attitude on the treadmill. Not because it gets horrendously boring, I mean, they don’t call it the dreadmill for nothing, but because the red digital indicators blaze into your soul from the faceplate of the treadmill.

I hesitated before stepping onto the textured belt. I didn’t want to exhaust myself too quickly which would be easy because of the lack of running I had done lately. I wanted to run at a zen-like pace that would allow me to run for endless hours. even if I was only going to run 30 minutes. My hesitation was the cue for the red digital indicators on the faceplate to squint at me as though they were thinking, “Zen? We’ll see about that!”

Almost immediately that treadmill started to taunt me in a passive aggressive manner. 5.0 mph flashed at me. I swear I heard it sigh. I tried to focus on my form. I thought about short strides and forefoot landing but I heard it sigh again. I adjusted the speed to 5.5 mph after justifying that I had only been easing into running, a warm-up, if you will.

The treadmill bided its time to to see if I would increase the speed on my own. When I failed to react to the flickering 5.5 mph that I’m pretty sure spelled out “snail” in morse code, the treadmill gave up on passive aggressive tricks and upped the ante. A perky little 20 something climbed aboard the adjacent treadmill. I glanced at the blazing red 5.5 mph on my treadmill wishing I had a sweaty towel throw across the faceplate to prevent anyone else from knowing I was a snail.

Of course, I had no qualms in peaking at Miss 20-something’s speed. It was 5.7 mph. My 5.5 mph blinked “s-n-a-i-l” at me again. I was still wishing for a towel.

Undeniably, I subcumed to digital, red indicator pressure. I’m pretty sure I saw a smirk on the computerized face of my treadmill when I reached up to increase my speed to 5.6 mph. The smirk was then replaced by perma-smug as I raised the speed to 5.8 mph a minute later. I’m not certain, but I think I heard the faint starting tones of We Are The Champions as I beeped my way up to 6.0 mph a short bit later.

I might have let those red digital numbers goad me into going faster than I had meant to go but one can’t deny that it felt good to flex and contract those running muscles. I barely had any belt burns on my toes to boot.

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Run For The Health Of It 2011

It’s not a very good idea to be standing in line for the port-a-potty when you hear the National Anthem play.  I was the good little Cub Scout Leader by being quite, respectful, with my hand over my heart, but I had a little trouble stopping the pee-pee dance.  The worst part was that there were still about 10 people in line in front of me.   Mrs. PG and I, we met in line, she’s pregnant with #2, had a decision to make.  Do we stay in line and start late or hope we become dehydrated before we pee our pants?   Yeah, I guess good competitors never die.  We totally went for dehydration and sprinted down to the starting… er… crowd.   I didn’t make it to a bathroom until about 3 hours after the race was done. 

Five minutes after the the gun went off, we began to move forward.  Mini-steps lead to shuffling lead to walking lead to a desperate attempt to start running.  I tried to stay with Mrs. PG at the starting line but I felt good and wanted to go faster.  I guess it’s hard to develop loyalties after only 10 minutes in the port-a-potty line. 

With all my tendonitis issues, I wanted to “sit” back and take in a delightful run through Kalamazoo.  The problem was that I was running faster than everyone around me.  I tried to slow down but I still kept weaving in and around people.  A pacer was near-by me.  I must not have been thinking very clearly because it took me a good 10 minutes to realize that I was near the 2:45 pacer.  Eeek!  From that point on I had my sights on the 2:00 pacer, yet, I would never find him/her. 

The best section was clearly the down hill in the second mile.  I must have easily passed 100 people.  The last time I did this race, I ran that mile in about 7 minutes.  I missed the 3 mile marker so I don’t know how fast I was running but I was fast.  It’s something I’ve learned by going minimalist.  I hated running down hills because my back would tense up so bad I’d have to stop and walk on a down hill.  How embarassing.  With minimalist, I let gravity take me down.  By landing on the forefront of my foot, I don’t get that back jarring impact I used to get.  It’s like running like a kid all over again.  I’m sprinting down the hill but I’m not using any more energy than when I’m going flat.  It was fun and for a few minutes I was really, really, really fast. 

The worst part is hard to choose but I guess the bridge was a little worse than the hills.  With so many of us running on the bridge, it was bouncing enough that I could not get my footing right.  I’d step down but the bridge wasn’t where I was expecting it to be.  You know the effect, but imagine being about 10 miles tired and trying to run as fast as you can still manage.  I think that bridge sucked a lot of energy out of me. 

I wish I had known the course better.  I do much better when I can mentally/visually check off a list of landmarks.  When I did the Chicago half years ago, I stopped to walk at mile 10, even though I knew there were 3 more miles, because the course did not turn the way I was expecting it to.  The last time I did the Kalamazoo half, I PR’d because I was able to see myself pass the list of landmarks in my head.  The course was different this year so I struggled, again, with keeping my head in the game the last few miles.

I’m very glad that during training, I had established that I wanted to finish strong.  That I was willing to sacrice my time to finish strong.  Fortunately, I’ve realized and cemented the “natural pace” belief in my head.  While this may not be a good theory in the end for getting a PR, it does help you kick  yourself in the butt when you want to walk.  Everytime I wanted to walk, I said to myself, “Your feet are going to hurt whether you walk or run. Your legs aren’t going to be any different. Your lungs are fine. So, pick up the pace.”  It wasn’t too long ago on the treadmil when I recalled that it IS actually easier to run faster than slower.  When I’m below my natural pace, I feel like lead and I want to stop.  When I push my pace up, I begin to feel lighter and better.  It’s the pace that I should be at insted of restricting my energies by trying to go ‘conservative’. 

As I came into the last mile, I was running next to Tatoo Sleeves.  She and I had been going back and forth for some time so I was using her as a pacer.  I asked myself if I was still strong enough to pull away in the last mile.  Since I wanted to finish strong, I pushed up to that natural pace and pulled away from Tatoo Sleeves.  Once I rounded the corner for the last 0.1 mile, I pushed the turbo speed.  I grunted a lot but I sprinted that last section and crossed over at 2:10:49.  It was not my best time, it was not my worst time, it may have been my strongest time.   

I saw Mrs. PG cross the finish line about 5 minutes behind me and ran into her on the shuttle bus with Kid #1 in tow.  It’s that strange feeling you have when you recognize someone on a plane that had been on the same parking shuttle bus as you an hour earlier.  I think we both did pretty good as neither one of us stopped for the port-a-potty.

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