The point of this workout was to get myself used to the idea of not just running a long distance, but running for a long time. I wanted to see how it felt to chop a giant run up into hours, to focus on one at a time. To see how it felt to say, “Well, I’ve only got another hour to go.“
The challenge, of course, was to avoid obsessing about distance covered. Earlier in the week I’d gotten a 10-mile PR, finishing what once took me a two full hours in just under 1:45. On Friday, I just needed to keep running, which called for an easy, loping, nonthreatening pace. I settled on 5 mph, knowing it would take me only 10 miles in the full 2 hours unless I kicked it up a bit. But I resolved not to dwell on that as a “step back,” to keep my focus on my simply filling up the time. To help me do that, I decided to watch “Iron Man 3.”
Setting up my viewing area was a bit tricky. I was using the treadmill in my parents’ garage, and while there’s a decent-sized TV mounted on the wall, there’s no DVD player out there. (I could’ve scanned their Dish Network offerings, but I wanted more control over my viewing material. An action movie with lots of frenetic music seemed just the ticket.) Finally I propped my laptop up on an empty Velveeta cheese box plucked from some cardboard headed for Dad’s burn pile. It blocked the treadmill screen so I’d have to physically lift my laptop to see my stats, which was perfect.
The problem I hadn’t anticipated was that I couldn’t really hear the movie over the treadmill noise; my laptop’s speakers are pretty weak. But I’d already seen this movie, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know what was happening. After a few frustrating minutes I finally settled into a running rhythm and managed to get (somewhat) absorbed in the action.
Occasionally, when I was conscious of feeling pretty good, I nudged the speed up a notch or two. But I really wanted to make sure I lasted the full 2 hours, which is obviously harder when you’re just running in place – especially when my mom, who was babysitting my 1-year-old niece, would open the door every so often to say, “Are you STILL running? When are you going to be done?” (I’d told her my plans ahead of time, but apparently they didn’t fully sink in.)
Mom said it was too cold in the garage to bring Kyla out, and I felt guilty for stopping by without actually interacting much. But that, too, was a good training tool – pushing nagging thoughts about why I should stop out of my mind.
I forced myself to watch a big chunk of the movie before I checked the time, and discovered that once I got past 30 minutes or so it wasn’t too hard to think about staying at it for the amount of time I had left. It WAS hard to avoid thinking about how little mileage I was covering for the amount of time spent, but I forced myself, over and over, to get over it.
After 90 minutes or so, I told myself I really could imagine going another hour or more if I didn’t have other time commitments. And that’s, ultimately, what helped get me over the mileage fretting hump: I realized what I really wanted out of this treadmill experiment was to run for 2 hours and be sorry, when my time was up, that I couldn’t run longer.
Naturally right about then the treadmill shut off. I don’t know if it’s programmed to do that after a certain time or what. But I turned it back on, resumed my run, and finished up as the movie was winding down.
I can’t say this was my favorite workout of all time. I really can’t wait to get out on the road again for a long run when this crazy winter weather subsides (we’re looking at 17-below tonight, and that’s NOT the windchill). But it was an interesting experiment, and I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it again, ideally with a better speaker system and an extra movie to tide me over into hour 3.