Lessons Learned and Bad Habits to be Unlearned From Too Much Time on the Treadmill

11 08 2009

treadmill.jpgI’m not going to all out bash treadmills because they’re a necessary evil and something that has helped me get the miles in through my various injuries and lowering the excuse quotient when it comes to the weather … however, after slowly getting my ever expanding rear end out training in the “real world” on “real surfaces”, I’m seeing a lot of things which may or may not be attributed to my spending so much time on the treadmill.

It has been really good in the respect that when I was asked to spend more time on a relatively stable surface until the problem with my knee could be determined, I was able to keep moving. When things would start to hurt, I could hop off, stretch, then get back on and keep going. I got an inkling of how fast I’m moving when I’m at the various speeds and I could get some hills in because I have a tendency to keep the thing on Random Hills. Of course, that’s not terrific because how many of us keep up a 12.5 minute mile going UP a hill???

I also know that I wasn’t getting my knee to snap straight nor proper push off. Yeah, read any book on racewalking and it mentions that treadmills are a necessary evil, but they can wreak havoc with one’s form. I didn’t realize this until I was at the clinc a couple of weeks ago and I’ve not had a lot of problems with snapping my knee straight, even through this injury … but there it was. Also, I’ve got no sense of where my feet are or knee drive. When you’re concerned about not kicking the hell out of the front motor with your size 11 men’s sneaker, sometimes you just pull back … or maybe that’s just me.

When I got back out on “normal” surface, I started having some problems with feeling the ground. That sounds stupid, but when I discussed it with a physiotherapist friend of a friend, she thought it was an interesting observation. The treadmill is kind of spongy where ashphalt or cement is far less forgiving. Then there’s the dirt of the dog park or gravel on the side of the road.

Of course, there’s also the heat factor. I overheat everywhere – probably perimenopause – and I’ve been taking a natural thyroid herbal to start to counteract this. Inside, I feel a lot safer than I do outside, but what race am I going to be doing inside? There’s no wind kicking you slightly from the side or headwind to make you feel like you’re walking backward. There is, of course, that nightmare guy who seems determined to kill all of us by dousing himself in flowery cologne before he hops on the elliptical or treadmill.

  • headphones.jpgThe thing that will get anyone who knows me is that I’d gotten used to plugging in my portable cd player and listening to a book or music. In there currently is a Rush album that has a good beat to it. I used the disc to pull me out of being in Treadmill Land and off into someplace else. I tried to just shove myself into a push-up position with my arms and pay attention to what my feet were doing … and crawl into the music. Ooohhh why if I’m so against being dependent on music in races did I do this? Because I was stuck on a treadmill with one of three things playing on the flat screen televisions: ESPN Sports Zone, Soap Operas/Afternoon Chat-Talk Shows, CNN-A-Thon-Of-The-Week … with the Soap Opera/Chat Show station audible. OY! Almost as bad as using the treadmill on campus where it is three channels of soap operas,  two of chat shows and one of some sort of a game show or “reality” show repeat. For some reason it’s always Oprah!, the somewhat simpering Dr. Phil and something really stupid along the lines of The View, Maury Povitch or what’s-his-name with the embarrassing fighting stuff. As a person who wouldn’t mind being able to get her book written and be placed on Oprah! or Ellen – who I think ROCKS for days and nights – I am fine with the shows, but not when I’m trying to exercise. Ok – wait – I have limited issue with Ellen when I’m trying to exercise, but maybe it’s because she brings on guests dancing. I digress.

It was definately during the Michael-Jackson-Is-Dead-A-Thon that the headphones came out. I couldn’t get on to the indoor track without running into folks mid stride, so I kept to the treadmill … and dove into rush.pngmy Rush album. I guess it’s because the first six songs were in a pacing that I wanted to remember on those hard miles of a 1/2 marathon. They got me through and kept me going … but there’s a downside, of course. I didn’t realize that I was becoming almost dependent on the words of Neil Peart and well honed drum/bass mix of Peart & Lee until I got myself back outside and realized although I *love* nature, I was bored. My legs weren’t moving. I wasn’t getting clicked in the way that I know I should. Oh crap …

Precisely what I was concerned about happened. I became addicted to having the music to keep me going. It’s the same thing that happened when I was in the 6th – 8th grade trying to keep the monotony of the long distance running training I was doing for cross country practice. I never have been one to train with others, even then, so I crawled in to my mom’s little portable radio with the plastic ear piece shoved into my right ear. Coach Knowles was in my face when she realized what I was doing. It was an innocent mistake – trying to keep myself from being completely bored. She just didn’t want me to get dependent on the tunes to keep me going. It became somewhat evident this was happening the first year I was competing because I would get really frustrated when I was out by myself trying to keep going. 


I did it again. It was, again, an innocent kind of mistake mainly because I knew I needed to get miles done in the boredom of what was around. Instead of just trying to keep a beat, I was multi-tasking my exercise time with listening to a book or music. I thought I had it under control, but I truly am a music junky (as much as an adreneline junky) and I didn’t realize how much I was coming to rely on the push of the music to keep me going until I’ve tried to do miles outside without it and felt unable to just get myself motivated to any speed and get more frustraited that my legs wouldn’t get moving.

I mentioned this in my journal to the sports psychologists and they were really interested in my personal findings. I know that with the unmedicated ADD it’s harder for me to keep focused and because I’ve always had issues with training being boring to me, I have to work harder to make myself do it. Because I have put everything else in front of the things I do for me and even multi-tasked out my training time, I forgot what is important … my training for me and, as it says on my training schedule: Lizzy Time

So, while I’m in the process of retraining my legs to operate with the ortodic correction, I’m also having to re-learn everything I thought I’d learned through the races of last year when it comes to moving my feet. I also have to rip my addiction to being motivated by the music or anything else that is external. Coming to realize this makes it actually easier to deal with … just knowing it’s going to be a nasty long process is a bitter pill to swallow.

I’m never going to say “you’re wrong” to anyone who trains/races with music or books affixed to their ears. I just realized how seductive it is. I want to do judged races in 2010 … and do them well. You’re not allowed the music to keep you going around in whatever the circle is until the long race is done. I have to self motivate. Sure, get the tune in my head and keep going with it … but, for me at least, it’s got to be separate from training. Training has to be an event in and of itself. There’s not going to be that external stimulation in every race … it’s got to come from inside.

 I said 2009 is the year for me to learn things … and this one kind of caught me by surprise.








One response

12 08 2009

Wow, I wasn’t thinking about how much I depend on music in training either, until I was really longing to plug in the earbuds at the ET race the other night. I didn’t do it, but it sure would have helped… and, it was not prohibited at the race. But, how would I have heard the sounds of the desert after midnight with headphones on???

Thanks for the wake up call!

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