Monday, January 6, 2014

Wacky Treadmill Speeds, Trusting Your Running Gut, and Cold Temps

Yes, I'm fully aware that this temperature is what some of you might consider tropical conditions right about now!  If it makes you feel any better, they say that with wind chill, it feels like 5. Which, again, is rather warm for some of you.
Brrr!  Baby, it's cold outside!  Okay, so we have nothing to whine about here in Asheville when I'm hearing from some of you in the midwest and northeast parts of the country.  Having one of my best friends (also a virtual running partner of sorts) be from the northwest part of Minnesota definitely puts things in perspective when I find myself thinking how cold it is and now much treadmill running sucks.  Her -100 temps with windchill and ground conditions mean that her Boston training is a whole heck of a lot of treadmill running...if not exclusively for awhile.  I hope she gets some outside runs in by February!

So, no real whining for me about the weather.  Too many good things going on to take to whining. BUT, it's still cold for us and what we are used to.  Cold and windy.  So much that school was canceled again in anticipation of what the weather could turn into today.  So far, I'm not seeing any reason why my kids shouldn't be in school but is what it is. When they are home from school and I have training runs I want to fit in, I count my blessings that I have options with a treadmill in the basement and a membership at the YMCA.

The treadmill.  So many strong feelings out there about this fine machine that so many of us use for much of our winter training.

As I look back to my past years of marathon training, I'm often in disbelief that I actually trained for them with mostly treadmill running except for my long runs.  Even in the gray and cold rain that was so often an every day reality in the Pacific Northwest, running outside was better than a twenty miler on the treadmill.  However, the treadmill didn't seem to bother me so much in the past.  Not like it does now.

The past couple of weeks of winter break has meant most days on the treadmill.  Some of these runs were on the treadmill at the gym but many of them were in my basement on my home treadmill.  It's a very nice (expensive too) treadmill and has given us many happy and hard miles so I'm not complaining.  Very thankful for it!  Even if it has felt a little OFF lately.  As good of a treadmill as it is, it hasn't felt so accurate and leaves me feeling kind of discouraged!  For example, last week's run that included 2 miles@7:45; short jog; 2 miles@7:30; short jog; 2 miles (turned into 1)@ 7:14 kicked my butt instead of leaving me feeling strong and confident.  It made me feel like I have a loooooong way to go!  The next few runs did felt the same.  Even the runs that were supposed to be easy pace felt a little harder.  I was starting to really be convinced that my treadmill was off on speed!  Especially since the treadmills at the gym didn't feel as fast.  I mean, my ten 800's@3:15ish pace with the last one at 3:09 at the gym last week felt almost easy in a moderate pushing it kind of way.  I felt so strong and ON.  If I would have done these same 800s at this pace on MY treadmill, I would have DIED!

Today, my treadmill speed assumptions were confirmed!  It wasn't all in my head.  Thank Goodness!!

Today's workout:

2mi w/u
5 x 1mi @ 7:00 w/1min I
2mi c/d

When I started my workout, I had just heard from my husband that we would be home soon to finish his work day just in case the weather got worse.  I thought about bundling up and doing my workout outside but I decided to give the treadmill a whirl.

First 2 miles@8:49 (NOT an 8:49 for real).  Texted my friend mid run (sorry for those of you that get offended by my word choice):

Shortly after that text, I wrapped up our text convo with a random picture that made me laugh.  Come on, admit it, it's funny.

After my texting and easy portion of this treadmill run, I put my phone away, and started the tempo portion.  I set the speed at 6:59 pace 1% incline and settled in for my first of 5 miles.  It didn't take more than .25 of a mile to start thinking WTF?!  I mean really?  This is a 7:00 pace?!  If this is a 7:00 pace, I was in trouble!  Not to mention discouraged and disappointed.

At that point, my husband came home.  After my first tempo mile was done, I was ranting on and on about how this can't be right.  This treadmill was so OFF!  How could my 800's at 6:30 pace with the last of 10 at 6:18 pace feel so strong and spot on last week when this felt so hard for what it should feel like for this sort of workout??!

So, after a longer than 1 minute recovery due to my rant, dynamic stretching and gearing up for 4 more, I got back on the saddle and set the pace to 7:04 and put the elevation down.  Still.  Too hard for a tempo feel.  I stopped after .75,  grumbled a bit more until my engineering husband got to work on researching how to testing the speed to see if it was really off or if his wife was just making excuses. I got bundled up and ready to finish my run outside but before I left the house,  the results were in...SURE ENOUGH, I was right!  I wasn't just right about it being was way off in my opinion.  A 6:59 pace on that treadmill was actually a 6:31 pace.  And my 7:04 was actually 6:34.  This makes me feel so much better about this workout and my past two weeks on that thing!

I ran another 6 miles outside with some speed play and a couple of 7:30 miles thrown in the mix.  The cold, sunshine and light flurries weren't so bad.  They were actually quite nice for this born and raised Colorado girl!  I'll take running in 20's with the sunshine any day over running in the Portland winter with rain and gray.

Well, this was quite the long ramble just to talk about my wacky treadmill.  But for some reason, just typing today feels good.  Even if it is just for me.

This paragraph sums up so much of why and what we gain when we train (anything we train for or goal we commit to)....of why we stick to a plan and practice dedication and diligence...So much of what we gain/learn/become through our commitment carries over to our Whole Self and our Whole Life! 

1. How's weather where you live?  What's the coldest temperatures you will run in?  
2.  Do you ever suspect that your treadmill is OFF on speed and needs calibrated?  
3.  Are you training for anything specific?  What?  And do you feel like the dedication and hard work that you give to reaching your goal carries over to being effective in other areas of your life?  


I don't always blog as often as I used to but you can also find Runninghood on:


  1. I don't think the treadmill is off speed but I think maybe the incline might be a little different on each? The treadmill I have at home, is MUCH easier to run than my workone, but my work treadmill is probably the hardest treadmill I've ever ran on. In the end, all that I look for is constant improvement on each device.

  2. Nice that your husband could figure the TM out for you.

    It's definitely colder here -- HIGH of -1 today with wind chills in the -20s -- but whatever your area's cold temperatures are always feel cold, no matter how much worse it is somewhere else (hello, Wisconsin). That said, I'm having a blast playing outside this winter (not today, though. I shoveled and otherwise hid inside). I've run and hiked in single digits, and my coldest race so far this winter started at 10*.

    I only run on the gym treadmill, and it always sucks, and I don't really have a good feel for pace, so I'm sure I'd just assume it was normal sucking. :)

    I've got a couple upcoming races, but mainly I'm just playing. When I *am* training, though, I don't think it really helps me otherwise. I often wish life would stop getting in the way of my training time.

  3. I live near Seattle, so I feel it's the "end of the (running) world" anytime the outside temps get below 40F or above 75F :) So I do appreciate the treadmill (plus it gets you out of too much rain), but I almost never use it for more than 1h - my mind is not that strong :) So cool of your husband to figure out the real speed/pace of your treadmill :))
    1) I think the coldest temp I ran in lately was 31-32 F
    2) I don't have a treadmill at home, and the ones at the gyms I go to all feel the same; I think they calibrate them regularly.
    3) The fall-winter weather really reduced my mileage, so I registered for a half on Jan 25 to kick myself back into training; I follow a semi-structured program as I don't have a time goal in mind, but I do run or hike almost every day to prepare. So it worked! When I train I feel more relaxed - maybe the extra endorphin?

  4. I'm sure it was a huge relief to know that you're not just getting slow for no good reason. We tend to trust that our technology is accurate but it can be flawed. Garmins don't measure length with 100% accuracy. My HR can't be 250 when I'm running along comfortably and chatting. We have to trust our instincts and our bodies.

  5. Glad that your husband figured it out for you!!!
    I think that my treadmill is pretty accurate and I'm sure by now you know I love it!!
    It was -13 (or maybe -15) this morning but warmed up to 9 by the late afternoon. They did cancel school and I didn't mind - one more day before I start back on 5 am days!!!

    1. Brrr! It's 0 degrees here this morning and I'm treadmilling it all the way and adjusting for calibration being off. Hey Kim, would you please list your blog link here because for the life of me, I can't find it!! and when I click on your link here it takes me to your google plus.

  6. Its 18 degrees here which is a first for us. Its only been something around 30 before so our city is going wild. Schools are closing and people are buying all the food off the shelves! Its fun and exciting!

  7. Oh my gosh! That's insane! Just think if you kept training on that thing - you'd be all Olympic qualifying accidentally.
    So it was 28F this afternoon and I ran in it. I put on long sleeves, tights, a sweatshirt, hat, and gloves, and promptly overheated. I tossed the sweatshirt in the bushes and picked it up on the way back!

  8. I haven't met the coldest temperature that would make me stop running yet. But then I live in the Netherlands, and Winter is usually like Summer: a bit of a disappointment! Not all that cold, not all that hot.


  9. Okay it's 30s here with a wind chill of 20. I don't care, it's cold. I didn't run last night, because it was said to ice. It didn't, but my vag was swollen (since you used your other word). So, I didn't run. I am running tonight even though it's the same as yesterday.

    I ran in England on New Years Day. It was windy, cold (low 30s) and rainy. That was by far the coldest and wettest I have ever ran.

    I'm training for my first marathon in May.

  10. How did Waylon figure out what was going on with the treadmill? I know he is an engineer so maybe you can pass along his tips. I have no clue if my TM is accurate but if anything, it is too easy. When my husband runs on it, he can put it all the way up to 10mph and it doesn't get any faster for him than running more like 7mph. But it does get faster when I try that so I think it has something to do with how much he weighs (not that he is big at all - probably only 150 pounds) and that throws it off compared to me. Who knows?!

    I'm supposedly training for Boston but, truth be told, I'm not sure I'm going to do it. And because I don't know if I'm going to be there, my training is seriously suffering. I just can't figure out how to make it to Boston with Easter the day before the race and then one of my kids having a birthday the day after Boston (and another the day after that). Plus, I'm headed to Duke for my college reunion the weekend before Boston so I'm already leaving John alone with the kids that weekend. It is just hard. We were talking about it last night and he said I should do it if I wanted -- and was mentioning me flying there on Sunday and then back on Monday after the race. Then it just didn't sound like the trip that I wanted -- being in Boston for less than 24 hours?! Not sure I could even make it to packet pickup in time! Anyway, I'm hijacking your comment thread so I'll save this for an email or a blog post. Haha. xoxo

  11. I haven't been running lately, but this week, we've suffered through -40C temps (that's -40F at the same time, since it is where the temp scales collide) Your 25/-3 would make people here break out shorts, I swear! Actually, we are slated for that this weekend, so I know we'll be out enjoying all the snow and go sledding and skating!
    I did see a woman running yesterday though while I was driving and it was -35C (-31F) at the time...! She was completely covered with only her eyes showing. I wonder how she felt?!

  12. I was supposed to go back to work monday (I work in a school so we were out for Christmas break) BUT with wind chill it felt like -37 out so we got Monday and Tuesday off and had a delay Wednesday!! Easy work week for me! ;)
    I've been trying to take advantage of the sunny days to get outside!! :)

  13. I am training for 5 more half marathons this year, the NYC Marathon in November, and training to get my Registered Dietitian Certification!

  14. Haha! I hope you can easily get your treadmill fixed and calibrated better, Amanda! (although, maybe you should just do all your tempo runs on it and then you'd be REALLY pleasantly surprised when you race...LOL ;)) Happy Running! :)

  15. Another reason why I hate treadmills. Plus the ones that show running speed in MILES PER HOUR. Sheesh.

    Often when I run on them I want to get my tape measure and chalk out and measure the stupid thing just like your hubby did.

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