treadmill vs outdoor running (again)

2013 was the first year I had my own treadmill. I ran 170 miles on the treadmill and 75 outdoors (not counting races). I started recording all my runs and keeping good data in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2013 that I started tracking based on treadmill vs outdoors. My best recollection is that I ran a moderate amount (maybe 50% of my mileage) on the treadmill at my apartment complex in late 2008 – 2009. In 2010, I moved into a house, and treadmill runs from then until 2013 were a rare occasion, usually only when I was visiting my mom and used her treadmill.

The chart below breaks down my miles over the last three years. 

treadmill vs outdoors

When I first got the treadmill, I was thrilled. Here was my opportunity to really rack up the miles, able to run any time, regardless of the weather. Yes, I know I live in California, and it’s almost always running weather. The real challenge for me was daylight. I don’t like running after dark or late at night, outside, alone. I could invest in a headlamp, but at the time, my longer runs were on a public trail that was some what secluded, and I felt that it was safest to stick to daytime running only outside. Oh, and there’s TV watching. If I’m going to spend time sitting on the couch watching TV, why not do that while running instead?

I also thought the treadmill would come in handy to really ramp up my speed. On the treadmill, you know what speed you’re running and you can easily make it faster or slower, and the same with incline. Those things come in handy, but how well does that translate when running outdoors?

Treadmill running is great for intervals. I can see my time and speed exactly, and I can adjust the speed at each interval easily. When running outside, I haven’t learned how to adjust my speed as precisely. However, what I’m learning now is that maybe it should be less about running at an exact MPH and more about perceived level of effort. 

After running many miles on the treadmill, what I’ve discovered is that I think it’s actually harder and it’s not helping me get faster. I’ve been so locked into certain paces on the treadmill (and the 1% incline to counter the lack of air resistance), and while doing tempo runs or intervals, I’ve pushed myself, most of the treadmill runs are “easy runs” and always at the same speed.

Recently, I’ve started running outside again, and what feels the same as that “easy run” on the treadmill turns out to have a lot of variation in the speed, but overall, ends up faster. I’ve also noticed that after running on the treadmill a lot, I tend to forget to use my leg muscles, which is super essential for outdoor running, and racing in particular. The problem is that after so many miles on the treadmill, it’s become a habit, and one I’m going to have to work hard to break. Once I remember and continuously remind myself to push with my legs, I’m a lot faster outside. 

Now that I’ve assembled my treadmill at my new house, I tried to use it. And I hated it. I felt forced into a speed, kept stopping, and faced a severe lack of motivation. Then I went outside, and the same type of run seemed easy, and when I was done, I discovered my pace was 2 minutes per mile than what I had anticipated.

Here’s a look at all my running data since 2011. You can see I’ve logged quite a few miles on the treadmill.

chart of total distance by location

Will I give up on the treadmill completely? Probably not. It still has its uses, but I’ll be making a shift to run most of my miles outdoors. I really love running outside and I think it will help me achieve my goals this year.

What do you think? Is treadmill running easier or harder than running outside? Is it better or worse for your speed / form / body?

Burpees, Mountain Climbers, and Squats… oh my!

This morning was my 8th week with my personal trainer.  🙂

I have never been good at strength training on my own, and the thought of lifting weights by myself with no guidance is a little scary. However, I know it’s important as part of a comprehensive fitness plan and one of the best things I can do to boost my metabolism and accelerate weight loss. So, I signed up for a membership at my local gym and inquired about trainers.

So far it’s been fun, and I’ve realized that there is a lot of strength training you can do at home with little to no equipment. And the weight machines aren’t that scary. It’s not all dead lifts and bench press!

When I started out, the trainer I was working with focused mostly on exercises that can be done with kettle bells, dumb bells, or resistance bands. After 3-4 sessions, her schedule and mine weren’t working out, and I got a new trainer. I’m still doing tons of squats and lunges, but now I am also learning to use the squat machine and a lot of the other machines.

Last week, I did lunges and squats while holding a medicine ball (15 lbs). Some sets involved doing a chest press with the ball and others a shoulder press. What a way to work the upper body into squats. This was not my idea fun!!!

This week, we did a total body workout using the Bosu ball. Before today, I had never, ever, in my life done a burpee. I’m sure they are hard the normal way, but let me tell you – try doing it on a Bosu ball!

Bosu Ball Burpees

Here’s a few of the other things I’ve done:

  • squat jumps with the TRX machine
  • lat pulldown & reverse grip lat pulldown
  • reverse grip tricep pushdown
  • leg press
  • lunges, reverse lunges, lunges with twist, lunges with medicine ball, lunges until your legs are burning and feel like jell-0…..
  • Bosu ball mountain climbers
  • squats, squats, squats

Luckily, my broken toe hasn’t affected my ability to meet with my trainer, but it has made running impossible. While I’m waiting for the toe to heal, I’ve tried to squeeze in some yoga.

half marathon training, week 2

Last week I started a 12-week training plan for my next big race, the Capitola Half Marathon. It really helps me focus to lay out a training and commit to training.

I’ve used many different methods for creating my training plans, but I really had success using Greg McMillan’s method that he outlines in his book You (Only Faster). The basic theory is that there are certain workouts that are better for achieving certain results AND there are also certain paces and certain workouts that are better for an individual person. The book walks you through how to take any of Greg’s training plans (or any other plan — you can find lots online for free and even more if you’re willing to pay) and how to customize it for you.

This is what I did for the Capitola Half Marathon last year, and I had my first PR for the half marathon! And this was despite having to walk the last 3 miles due to my stupid ITBS.

I’m excited to get back into training for a race and running more regularly. For the first week, I ran only 8 miles, but a nice slow steady start is good to prevent injuries! And this year I am going to make sure that at least 2 of my long runs are 10+ miles, so the distance will definitely increase over the 12 weeks of the plan.

Last year, my longest training run was around 7 miles, and while I had been pain-free while running, it hit me around mile 10 during the race. It was so bad, actually, that I almost quit the race. Then I looked at my GPS watch and realized that even if I walked the last 3 miles, I could have a new PR for the half marathon and that was just the motivation that I needed. I’d rather not do that again though.

Roxy running agility

Even Roxy is excited about training, she’s looking forward to joining me on some runs! And boy, that dog can run!

Anyone else training for an upcoming race? What method do you use?

Running updates

I’ve done a really poor job of meeting my running goals the last few months. After running the Capitola 1/2, I have missed a few races for various reasons, and I have not been doing the weekly miles that I would like.

Even Indy wants to go for a run!

I have been really looking forward to the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot this year, as this is the one 5k that I try to do every year, and use as my benchmark to see if I’m improving my PR. However, I just learned that I will be having surgery next week, and I will not be able to run for 4 weeks, so the Turkey Trot is out.

There’s always the Santa Run, but I will just barely be able to run at that point, so I don’t know that it’s worth it to try to do any sort of races until next year.

I’m really bummed about this, and so I am trying to run, run, run these last few days leading up to my surgery, since I’ll be sitting around doing a lot of nothing afterwards, especially the first week.

Are there any really great races coming up in 2015? I need some motivation to get back into training properly post surgery.

I’m considering the following so far:

  • Brazen’s Bay Breeze 10k – 2/14 (I ran the 5k last year, and it was fun and flat, so I thought I’d try the 10k this time)
  • Brazen’s Hellyer 5k – 2/28
  • Capitola 1/2 marathon – 5/17  (I had a PR this year, despite horrible pain from my ITBS from mile 10 and on)
  • Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5k

I’d like to add at least one more short run (5-10k) and one more 1/2 marathon (maybe in SF later in the year?)

If you know of a great run in my area, please let me know!  I’d also like to travel for a race sometime, I did that last year for the Disney 1/2 and it was a lot of fun.