Winter in New York
My routine has been remarkably similar lately, because I've been unusually reluctant this year to train outdoors. I don't know why, but every time I think about heading out in the cold, I opt to drive to the gym - last year, I was more likely to suck it up and run outside. Since Thanksgiving, however, I have run outside precisely once - on a track, and for only two miles. Everything else has been treadmill, up to 8 miles. I've been doing it daily in the new year, but it's been daily on the treadmill.
Getting Really Good at One Type of Running
One of the pitfalls with setting a goal to go out and run every day is doing the same exact workout every single time. This makes sense, because the mindset in trying to develop a daily routine encourages this - or else it wouldn't be a routine. Set the alarm, wake up, get dressed, get in the car, drive to the gym, pick out a treadmill, choose a podcast to listen to, tighten my shoelaces, press 6, press 0, press start, go for 30 minutes, finish up, drive home, shower, etc .. I could probably get into a routine like that and maintain it for a while. And what I'd end up with is better physical fitness - and I'd be excellent at running 6mph for 30 minutes on a treadmill. However, when the time came to go trail-running again, or perhaps to race a half-marathon - my specificity of training will have been optimized for something completely different and I will not live up to my potential.
Treadmills and trail 100-milers
Now I can definitely vary the treadmill workout simply by running under different settings. Go faster. Go slower. Adjust the incline. Add intervals. And after a straight week of 6mph consistent running, that's what I have started to do. But the reality is that my next race is a trail 100. And while running on the treadmill is definitely better than nothing, it's not ideal.
Man up and Get Out in the Cold
This is why I plan on breaking out my Garmin GPS watch and heading to Ramapo Reservation over the next few weeks to restart outdoor trail running. At the reservation, I will have the option of running flat, running hills, running technical, and running smooth - so everything I need is right there - I've just got to get over the main thing that has been keeping me away: the cold.
The Treadmill is not Without its Uses
Having said that, I don't plan on phasing out the 'mill altogether. My ultrarunning friend Meredith once gave me a treadmill workout that is very relevant to 100-milers - fast walking with an incline. I tried it out, I can attest that walking 4MPH at 10% is definitely harder than running 6MPH at 0% - and will pay large dividends come March when Umstead comes around. As a result, if you visit my training log, you should expect to start seeing workouts where I have a 1-mile running warmup (keeps the streak alive), followed by 3 or 4 miles of walking..
New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time and can be seen at http://www.tursi.com