Two runs in one

It’s ridiculous how much fun I’m having on the treadmill lately. On Saturday, I spent the first half of the IU-Purdue game working on a virtual hiking route to Alum Cave Bluffs*, then spent part of the second half doing a time trial for an upcoming indoor triathlon in which the running segment will be done on a treadmill.

This year Purdue didn't put up much of a fight, but it's still a fun game to watch.

This year Purdue didn’t put up much of a fight, but it’s still a fun game to watch.

The way I understand it, the March 9 Splash-a-Thon** in North Manchester, where Rowan goes to college, consists of a 15-minute swim, 15 minutes on a stationary bike and 15 minutes on a treadmill. Instead of being timed, your score depends on total distance covered.

Because my running has nearly fallen off the radar the last few weeks, I decided the best I could hope for was plugging in 6 mph and trying to maintain a 10-minute pace for 15 minutes. (I was already warmed up from my treadmill “hike,” so that wasn’t an issue.)

Getting through the first 5 minutes on a treadmill is the worst part, I think, and that was the case here. But I just kept telling my inner whiner to shut up and watch the game and I’d start to feel more motivated once I got to the halfway point.

And I did. Enough so that I found myself thinking that future time trials should include a game within the game — trying to lower my 1-mile time, for instance. It was too late to aim for anything decent on this workout, as I didn’t even think of it until the 8-minute mark. But in the spirit of that quest I went ahead and turned the speed up to 6.5 mph for 1 minute, to see how that felt, and then to 7 mph to see if I could hold that to the 1-mile mark.

The good news: Yes, that was doable.

The bad news: It didn’t shave much off my mile time, just 13 seconds off my original 10-minute pace.

The real payoff: Now that I was just 13 seconds away from the 10-minute mark, I decided I might as well hold the pace. After that, I eased back to a 6 mph pace, which now felt much easier.

I repeated my “end of the mile” scenario at the 13-minute mark, with 60 seconds at 6.5 mph and the final 60 seconds at 7 mph.

My distance covered was 1.550 miles, which doesn’t seem dramatically superior to my original goal of 1.5 miles. But given that I expected to struggle at 6 mph for 15 minutes, eclipsing that — even by a little — feels awesome.

*Alum Cave Bluffs is a 2.2-mile, 1,120-foot hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I got the desired vertical climb, but I’ve got some tinkering to do before I publish that workout. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have three trial workouts posted, ideally in an easy-to-find spot at the top of the blog.

**I would post a link to this triathlon, but I can’t seem to find one. It’s a fundraiser for the Peabody Aquatic and Fitness Center in North Manchester, and I only heard about it via e-mail through Rowan at Manchester University. If anybody’s interested — it’s $30 per person or $45 per team — I can send you an e-mail with a PDF of the entry form. Deadline for a T-shirt is March 1; event itself is March 9.

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