Today was my first "official" run, that is the first to be recorded in this journal. Coincidentally, this was also my first run off of a treadmill in around 6 months. Up to this point, every run I've done in the last 6 months (all 4 of them) has been on a treadmill in our complex. When I was training for the Hood to Coast the first time, I did a lot of my training on a treadmill in the complex of one of my friends. His treadmill was infinitely better than the one here. Before assuming (like I did before I started running on the one here) that all treadmill running is the same, think about the difference between running on a treadmill while looking out of a window versus running on a treadmill while looking at a mirror. I think you can probably guess what I have at the complex here.
When you're running on a treadmill, the best thing you can possibly have to keep you sane is any kind of distraction. Treadmill running sucks, we all know it. But if it's the only kind of running you have time for, you need something to keep you from remembering what you're actually doing for the 15 minutes to an hour or more that you're running. With a window in front of you, you have an instant distraction. No matter what you're watching, even if it's the gardener weedwhacking outside, you're in a constant state of distraction. You can look at your mileage or your calories burned, but it's all at your discretion.
Now think about running on a treadmill while looking at a mirror. If you've never done this before, I'll give you a short transcript of my thought processes while I'm running on the treadmill here:
"This sucks...Why am I sweating so much? I just started running two minutes ago. Why are my arms jiggling like Kelly Clarkson's? What kind of straight guy compares his arms to Kelly Clarkson's? What kind of straight guy compares any part of his body to Kelly Clarkson? Why am I thinking about Kelly Clarkson?..."
Two words- BAD NEWS. It's on the same level as waterboarding- torture or not, it's a nasty way to punish someone.
The only possible escape from watching yourself slowly perspire and degrade is to look at the mileage. But this is even worse! Try running a mile on a treadmill while doing nothing but watching your mileage slowly creep up. I guarantee it will seem like the slowest mile you've ever run.
Fast forward to last night. My girlfriend and I had dinner with our friend Brian, who I recently recruited to become the twelfth member of the Hood to Coast team. I asked Brian how his training was going and he basically told me that he felt he would be ready to run the race today if he had to. Instantly, I decided that I would take the first real step to getting ready for the race in the morning. What I forgot was that this decision was made right before eating pounds (literally) of spicy shrimp, crayfish, and sausages. So when I took the first step this morning, I was instantly reminded of my poor eating choices.
That said, the run could have gone worse. I think that the most important thing after a run is to pull a positive from it. I know, I know. Cheesy. Still, I think it's true. Without any kind of positive, what's your incentive to ever lace up your running shoes again? It doesn't always have to be something huge like "I just broke 5 minute mile pace for 3 miles" or "I just beat that Kenyan guy next door who won the Dallas Marathon last week." Pulling the smallest positive can be all you need to do it again the next time, even if it's as bleak as "Well, I got hit by a bus and broke my hip, but at least I got out there!"
So here's my positive: I finished. I may have felt like I was running uphill the entire run. I may have had a bus downshift right as it passed me and fill my lungs with exhaust. The high point of the actual run may have been seeing an ad on a bus bench on which someone had blacked out a realtor's teeth so he looked like a pirate. The low point may have been having a 50+ year old Mexican woman clutching a huge purse pass me with no effort in an attempt to catch a bus. But I finished. Run 1 is complete.