Sunday, August 7, 2011

In which I get high...on the treadmill

I didn't want to get up this morning, but I was greatly rewarded for having done so.

Our youngest has been sick for the past two days, which means little quality sleep for me or my husband. That has made my 5 am alarm more difficult than usual.

When the alarm turned on this morning and slowly got louder, the bed was warm, the sheets were soft. I was a puddle of sleepy relaxation and I could hear the rain rhythmically hitting windows. I hit snooze and floated off again, but only for 15 minutes.

I bought size 10 shorts last night and those suckers are not going to continue to fit as well as they do if I don't haul ass out of bed to keep earning that privilege.

Next time the radio turned on I got up and saw it was raining quite heavily. I had 4 craptacular miles planned for this morning, but the rain meant the venue was transferred from my hilly neighborhood to a nice, flat treadmill in the air-conditioned gym. Thank you, Mother Nature.

I can't remember the last time I ran on the treadmill, it could be back as far as April. After I got the courage to suck it up and start running outside (as opposed to the treadmill) I've kept that mojo going. But, today it was back to the gym, so off I went.

When I got to there, only one treadmill was occupied, pretty normal for a Sunday morning in my experience. I picked one in the middle, made sure the closed captioning worked on the monitor (they don't all work all the time) and I was off.

I don't trust the mileage on treadmills, Lord knows how it's calculated and my stride is very short anyway, so chances are always good if I go by the mileage I'll have run much less. Since I ran my last 4-mile workouts in 53 minutes, I decided to watch the clock instead and run for 55 minutes. Who knows how much I really ran, but the duration was right, so that's fine in my book.

I walked for 10 minutes to warm up, then hit the + speed button and let that back leg kick up and off the ground to start. I didn't pay attention to pace, just got the speed up to something not too fast and not too slow, and settled into a rhythm.

About 10 minutes in I thought, I feel really good.

My stride was awesome: smooth, efficient and compact. My legs felt like they were landing so softly on the belt. Glide-glide-glide-glide, rhythmically moving swiftly, perfectly. I won't say it was easy, but it felt natural, almost effortless. And those are two adjectives I can rarely attribute to road runs.

About 30 minutes in, I continued to be amazed by how I felt (or didn't feel) and I realized, My breathing is perfect.

When I run outside, even though I'm listening to music (loudly), I can still hear my labored breathing. Not dangerous I'm-stroking-out territory, but I'm-working-hard breathing. Today I could have easily held a conversation with someone.

At 50 minutes, the treadmill came to its automatic stop because it had been going for an hour (including the warmup). I straddled the belt, let it reset, then hopped on for the last 5 minutes. I've never run so long that I've hit the reset point. It made me reflect on the first time I stepped on the treadmill at the gym: Dec. 30, 2010.

It was so hard. A shock to my system. At that time I weighed in at 236 lbs two days earlier at Weight Watchers. So, yeah, running for any length of time was going to be a shock to that body. Being able to run for more than 1 minute straight seemed very, very far away that day.

But I kept at it. I started and finished Couch To 5K. Then I started running outside, then entering races to give myself goals to work for.

And then, all of a sudden, it's 7 months later, you're 62 lbs lighter and you look at the display: Time's up, 55 minutes and your workout is done.

Your breathing is still great, you're not panting in recovery. Your legs feel fantastic, warm and limber.

And you think:

I could have run longer.

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