Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't knock it til you try it!

I have run a total of 6 times in the past 7 weeks  on a treadmill! That is exactly twice the number of times I have run on a treadmill in my whole life, and the first 3 times were for the "sake of science". (I'll explain. The exercise physiology program at UAB asked the cross country team to come out to do some VO2 Max testing a few of times while I was there.) So, why have I doubled my treadmill running in the past few weeks? First, I went on a run with Mr. Stand one hot, sticky morning and, for lack of a better way to put it, thought I was going to die! Seriously, I saw blue dots, got real dizzy, felt chills, and had a nagging headache the rest of the day! The next day, I thought it would be nice to run in a "controlled environment". Second, I have had several customers come in recently who have told me they run on the treadmill exclusively, and when they ask questions about it, I honestly have very few to no answers! I thought that wasn't very cool, so I decided to give it a go, and you know, I'm not going to "knock it" as much as I thought I was going to!

My two biggest "knocks" about running on a treadmill have been it's much easier than running on the road and it's boring. So, I tried a couple of things to help. First, I wore a heart rate monitor. To me, the only true test of effort is heart rate, and I have the hardest time controlling it. I started easy and gradually increased the pace to reach about 75% of my max heart rate. My goal was to reach a comfortable working effort to insure I wasn't over doing it OR just going through the motions. The first positive of the treadmill, with no inclines and a constant pace made it very easy to keep my heart rate consistent. It's the perfect solution to those of us who have a hard time keeping those easy, recovery runs, EASY!

The second issue I've had with treadmills, is that they are sinfully boring! There are no "sites to behold", curbs to jump, cars to dodge, or owls to escape!! In fact, there's way too much to stare at to remind you of EXACTLY how long you've been there! First, right in front of you, there's this control panel that reminds you of the elapsed time or the time remaining in your workout! Second, that same control panel allows you to watch TV! Now, this may be the "running purist" in me typing, but you should NOT be able to watch TV while you are running! I know you "treadmillers" are going to disagree and probably say that's the very reason you run inside, but frankly it's just wrong! Why? Everybody on this planet knows damn well most programs are either a half hour or an hour long. When those credits roll, I'm thinking, "I've only been here for 30 minutes!", and quite honestly, there aren't enough shows on a limited cable selection to hold my attention for an hour. SOLUTION: a towel! I throw the towel over the dreaded control panel, and it's me and my watch, just like the road (HA!)!

My inventional spirit has lead me to a more running friendly idea of a treadmill. Obviously, the control panel needs to disappear! Have an open front with the pace and incline controls on the side rails. There are an abundance gadgets today to help you see your pace, heart rate, calories burned, and elapsed time, and if you need help with a training program, surf the web, email, or purchase an app on your smart phone. Finally, add one of those fancy bladeless fans about 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall to the front! Then you can feel an actual breeze, instead of getting puffed in the face by a vent!

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