treadmill

Why I don’t hate winter

As the middle of February approaches, the days are short and the treadmill runs are long. Was it just a few short months ago I was running outside in shorts? As easy as it is to dislike the many challenges of winter, as a runner I've come to enjoy this part of the year. It's a different season of running for me for many reasons.

Increased time on the treadmill 

In 2012 I moved into a building that had a great gym and a treadmill. I've never left. This little basement gym has been a saving grace and has played a big role in my last three spring marathons (Ottawa 2013, Toronto 2015, Ottawa 2016).

With my mornings starting at dark-o-clock, with temperatures -10ºC and below, I often rely on my treadmill for workouts. Not only does this eliminate the risk of icy footing, it allows me to hit paces that I would otherwise have difficulties running in the snow + ice conditions. It also allows me to hoover in high-weekly-mileage territory, with less impact on my legs. After my Achilles injury this summer, I've been paying extra attention to my body while running higher mileage weeks.

That said, the one challenge I do have is getting to the treadmill before anyone else. I know I know, this may sound selfish. But hey. We're marathon training here! And, let's be honest. It's really only one person I compete with (if you watch my instagram stories, you'll understand).

Mental strength 

Treadmill running can be a mental challenge. There’s no change in the scenery, and you're staring at the same place in the wall/out the window for unimaginable amounts of time. Last week, I actually felt a little fuzzy after staring out at the bright white snow for 2.5 hours (32K). Over the years, I’ve managed this by watching movies, listening to podcasts, playing with the speed/incline to keep things interesting.

I also do a lot of thinking on the mill. It’s hard to ignore that voice inside your head when you’re running in the same spot for hours. My thoughts wander from day-to-day things (what am I going to put in my post-run shake, what will I wear today), to deeper things depending on what’s going on at the time. Other times I tune out and JFR.

During these winter months, I am reminded how much progress I have made in the mental strength department. I wasn't always mentally strong. In my early running years, I frequently quit workouts or just plain ole wouldn't do them. Now, I frequently run for hours, often challenging myself with fast-for-me paces. I give a lot of credit to my ability to make my MIND RUN THE BODY.

Strength training 

In the summer I am more likely to spend time outdoors. Whether that's going for a long walk, or doing core work post-run, I find it harder to get myself down to the basement gym. This means I do less strength and cross-training! In the winter, I'm more likely to stay inside for my runs, leaving my conveniently close to the weights. I often do a 30 minute strength training routine post-run, or I'm more inclined to go downstairs for a workout on active rest days.

How do you use the winter months?

Do you run on the treadmill more in the winter?

I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or find me on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Strava. You can find my latest articles on Salty Running here.

Mental strength on the treadmill

Ottawa has been covered in ice and snow for the past couple of weeks. For runners, this means risking it with the ice, or finding your nearest treadmill. Thankfully there’s one downstairs in my building’s gym. Even despite my efforts to get outdoors, I've ended up returning early with water logged shoes and having to get on the mill for final umpteen km of my long runs. Ugh. IMG_3180

Treadmill running can be a mental challenge. There’s no change in the scenery, and your staring at the same place in the wall/out the window for unimaginable amounts of time. Over the years, I’ve managed this by watching movies, listening to podcasts, playing with the speed/incline to keep things interesting.

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I also do a lot of thinking on the mill. It’s hard to ignore yourself, when you’re running in the same spot for a while. My thoughts wonder from day-to-day things (what am I going to put in my post-run shake, what will I wear today), to deeper things depending on what’s going on at the time. It’s much harder to tune out and just run.

I’ve been using this time on the treadmill to work on my mental strength. One of my runs this past week was a 12k tempo, with 7km at 5:05/km. I knew this workout would be challenging, especially on the treadmill, but knew I had it in me. I told myself to envision running the Ottawa Marathon course. 

I warmed up for 4km then increased the pace to 5:05. I started by thinking of the section of the race through Gatineau. I pictured the government buildings and museums on my right, and knew there would be a water station just before getting onto the Alexandria Bridge. I thought of running across that bridge, and how that view of Parliament always makes me smile, and that in a few hundred meters I’d be back in Ottawa.

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I pictured the last 17 km of the race, going through New Edinburgh and then back towards downtown. For the final 1.2 of my 7km tempo, I pictured the 41-42.2k of the marathon. I got chills. In my mind, I was running along the canal, with spectators on either side, knowing that I will have left everything on the course and finishing my 13th marathon.

Mental weakness has hurt me in the past. Without mental preparation, I’ve given into the hurt of the marathon. I also put too much pressure on myself, which is something I'm getting much better at, but is ultimately a work in progress.

What do you do to mentally "train"?

In other news, I’m planning to run the local Run for Reach Half Marathon on Sunday, April 10th. If you’re training for Ottawa, this is a perfect tune-up for race weekend!

If you're on Strava, I'd love to connect! You can follow my training here. There's also an Ottawa Marathon group!