I hate treadmills… and perceived level of exertion

Running with a baby jogger really raises your perceived level of exertion

That’s me and Superbaby after the Turkey Trot here in Charlotte.  We beat out all the moms and their skinny babies in the baby jogger division, finishing an 8k in 36 minutes.  Some guy with triplets almost beat me though, so I guess I’m the pathetic one.  I wanted to hurl afterwards.  Needless to say, my perceived level of exertion was really high that day.  I ran 22 miles two days later and it felt like a cakewalk compared to the Turkey Trot.  If by cakewalk, you mean a walk that takes over 3 hours and enables you to eat several pieces of cake afterward because of the high caloric burn from the walk.

Perceived level of exertion is an interesting, fluctuating concept.  On Saturday, Erin and I ran about 4 miles before Power Hour.  Power Hour is a psychotic bootcamp-type class.  That is where we met, and where we met Griff.  One of my dear friends teaches Power Hour and she is a beast.  She has two kids but her body resembles that of someone who belongs on the cover of Shape magazine.  It’s just not fair. Anyway, Erin and I took off on that chilly morning setting out to run a leisurely 8:30/mile pace as a warmup for Power Hour.  We were huffing and puffing at mile two, barely holding 8:30.  We managed to eek out an 8:26 pace for the entire jog, but I definitely thought I would blackout 65 minutes later when we finished Power Hour.  My perceived level of exertion was very high on Saturday.  The next day, I did an easy two mile warmup then 10 miles at about an 8:20 pace.  It was tough, but actually a little easier than my run with Erin the prior day.  I know what you’re thinking: “That makes absolutely no sense.  You really need to get your Garmin checked.”  But that’s just how our wonderful human bodies work.

Tonight, as planned, I ran 6 miles then finished off with 10×10 sec hill sprints.  The pace for tonight’s run was supposed to be between a jog and a run.  My perceived level of exertion should have been around a 5 or 6, so that I could hold a conversation.  I think that’s what the PLE conversion is.  I figured that would put me around an 8:40.  Wrong.  I look down at my watch after mile 1- 8:09.  After mile 2- 8:07.  You get the picture.  Each mile was progressively a bit faster but I did not intend it to go that way.  Well, except when some girl got on the track and was trying to race me.  She wasn’t really racing me but that’s how I “perceived it,” pun intended, so I had to pick up the pace a bit.  But I didn’t sacrifice my goal, which was to keep my heart rate pretty low and my comfort level high.  My splits were 8:09, 8:07, 8:06, 8:04, 8:00, and 7:46.  As you can see, the girl racing me came in on my last mile.  Then I hopped on the treadmill, my single greatest non-human nemesis, for my hill sprints.  Don’t judge me; everyone has a human and non-human nemesis.  Or so I tell myself.  The treadmill is my nemesis for several reasons.  One: it is unforgiving and does not make my shin splints happy. Two: It takes a while to get up to the speed I want to run, which frustrates me because I don’t like seeing my elapsed time so high when my initial mileage is so low.  I dislike the inaccuracy.  Three: “they” say that treadmills help do the work for you, so you need to raise the incline and run faster than you regular pace to actually be running your regular pace.  This boggles the mind.  And most importantly: My perceived level of exertion is always ridiculously high on the treadmill.  I was just strolling along on my 6 mile run at what is the equivalent of about a 7.5 mph pace on the treadmill.  When I first started jogging on the treadmill, a 7.0 mph pace felt like I was running for my life like Michael Vick being chased down the street by some angry pitt bulls seeking vengeance.  And I only ran at that pace for about a minute before hiking up the incline to begin my hill sprints.  I ran my sprints at a 9.0 incline at a 9 mph pace.  Only 10 seconds each, with 20 seconds rest between each sprint. That may not sound like much, but it was the longest 100 seconds of my life.  Man, that workout better help, or I am going to be really mad.  It combined two things I despise- the treadmill and hills.

After my workout, my shins were screaming from the very brief time I spent on my nemesis (the non-human one).  I knew this would happen, and luckily it has not been happening as frequently because I have been avoiding the treadmill like the plague and trying to run more on the dirt-packed outdoor track at the YMCA.  I also credit my shin splint recovery to ice massage and Body Helix calf universal sleeves.  I am a huge proponent of compression.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I think I read somewhere about how compression is really good during your workout but most importantly, after your workout to aid in recovery.  It’s science.  When running outdoors in the winter, I use CW-X Pro Women’s tights in both the full length and 3/4 length. When it’s a bit warmer, or when I am running indoors, I often wear Zoot Active Compression socks.  Sure, I look like one of the Harlem Globetrotters or a woman headed to an adult rec league soccer game, but I feel good.  I have only been wearing BodyHelix for about a week.  I primarily wear the sleeve on my right leg, which is the one with the shin splints, after my run.  It feels amazing and I really believe it is aiding in the recovery process.  The next day, I have no pain whatsoever.  Tonight, I wore my BodyHelix for about 30 minutes after my run and now my leg feels great.  On Sunday, I wore it for an hour after my long run and same thing- no soreness.  BodyHelix makes a bunch of other compression sleeves for the knee, hamstring, and other body parts, so if/when I develop other problems, as is inevitable given my history, I will scoop up some more sleeves.  My IT band has flared up again too, but that’s one of the downsides of running in one direction on the indoor track.  I wonder how long it would take someone to approach me if I decided to randomly switch directions halfway through my run.  I am a pretty imposing figure out there in my pink shoes and knee-high socks, so I could probably get away with it.  If not, I will just continue to use my trusty foam roller.

I will focus a bit more on gear in a future post.  I could spend hours writing and talking about gear. Just ask Erin, or SuperDad, who found Amazon or RunningWarehouse packages on our doorstep for about 5 weeks straight before my last marathon.  In addition to my amazing natural ability to be a middle-of-the-pack runner, I credit my insightful gear purchases towards aiding my better running these last few months.  I hope that this training plan will help too.

Tomorrow, I am planning on doing one of my most hated workouts.  It’s a 2 mile warmup, then a ladder of 1 min, 2 min, 3, min, 2 min, 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min at 5k pace.  Finish up with a 2 mile cool down.  I estimate my 5k pace to be about 6:40/mile, solely based on my half marathon goal pace of 7:25.  I don’t really have a clue of my 5k time because I haven’t run a real sanctioned, organized 5k, complete with endorphins, in about 15 years.  Last week when I did this workout, I vowed I would never run a 5k again.  I am not equipped to run at that pace for longer than a minute.  But I somehow toughed it out, and hope that tomorrow is not as painful as last week.

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2 thoughts on “I hate treadmills… and perceived level of exertion

  1. I am liking the blog. This post’s content on “perceived level of exertion” is so accurate. I am still learning about this running thing but I have already had my own experiences with this. One day 6 miles feels great. A couple days later I am doing a 3.1 and want to lay down on the road half way through. Weird. Glad I am not the only one this happens to.

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