It’s still winter outside, despite what the calendar says, and running outside has been difficult. Normally, I don’t mind running in cold weather, but after a bout with the flu and a subsequent pulmonary infection, I’ve found that running when temperatures are below freezing just HURTS. I wheeze. My nostrils and throat close up. I gasp for air when I go above even a slow jogging pace.
Consequently, the treadmill has become my friend, even for the longer and slower runs. Last week, my ankle had improved to the point that I thought I’d try 15 miles. The longest I’d run so far was 10 miles, and I was starting to wonder if I’d be ready for my trail marathon in May. I wasn’t in panic mode yet, but I needed a good run to boost my confidence, something to show me that I was indeed making progress toward my races in May and June. Slow mileage progression is essential, but there comes a point when darn it! I need to test my limits!
At first, the weather promised to be mild enough – upper 30s – but by Friday morning, the temperature dropped to the 20s with a windchill around 10. Then the snow started. Scratch the outdoor run…
I’ve been panting to get outside, but there was nothing for it, I couldn’t go out. It was a massive disappointment. I needed that run though, so…treadmill.
Choose a string of trail videos, get my water and nutrition set up, then hop on.
No layers, no wind. It feels like cheating.
My races are going to (hopefully) be in warm weather anyway.
I set the program to run a hilly course, going from levels 2 through 9. Obviously, treadmill hills aren’t the same as actual trail hills, but at least I could do some climbing. As the snow came down outside my window and the plows rolled down the road, I stepped on the mill and pressed “go.”
Fours hours later, I stepped off, having run 20 miles and climbed 2499 feet. BAM! Confidence boosted!
Yes, it was boring. Consider it mental testing.
Yes, it was warm in the room. The races will be warm anyway (maybe).
But I finished 20 miles.
I couldn’t copy the technical trails I will need to run, but at least I could gauge my pace and heart rate and test myself at different intervals. I figured out how much water I’ll be likely to need and how many calories I’ll require to maintain my effort. These details are important for trail runs and ultras, and now I can better envision how my races might play out on those days.
I won’t be fast, but I know I can finish the first race at least, and I am confident I’ll have a good shot at the second. I’ve come a long way since that teary-eyed session at the doctor’s office in December, wondering if I’d be able to run at all. 20 miles was a milestone for me, and while these next races are my focus, I have my autumn goals in my sights as well…
It’s so good to be back.