Friday, January 16, 2009

Nametag: "Hi, My Name is Breadcrumb Runner."

Since we are "meeting" for the first time, it seems only appropriate to introduce myself. If it were in reality, all you might have to do is read a hastily-written name tag reading "Hi, my name is so-and-so." However, this is cyberspace. There are none such nametags here, so I thought I would fashion myself one (see title of post). If it were in reality, we also might shake hands nervously and verbally introduce ourselves. Perhaps I'd mention my interest in running, which you may (or may not) reciprocate. Perhaps this common ground would spur conversation. Assuming, reader, you are in fact a fellow runner - whether you be a beginner or pro, run recreationally or competitively - it is here, my anonymous internet running friend, I will begin my lengthy blogging journey and explore the depth of this sport that can be over-looked at face value.

Today I woke up, a day off from classes, in a wonderful mood. Yesterday and the day before I had to run chained to the infamous dreadmill, forced inside by the nasty arctic wrath mother nature thrust upon me. The temperatures, ranging from -6 to -22 degrees Fahrenheit with windchills hitting the -40's, were just not safe to venture outside in. Oddly enough, when I run on the treadmill, I find it actually feels more strenuous than when I run outside. At first I thought perhaps my running mechanics were much more adapted to outside running. However, I did some research, and found that the reason for this greater perceived exertion could be because I always set the treadmill at 1% incline (to "account for the lack of air resistance," as is widely believed). Read this article online: "The 1% Incline Treadmill Myth" It suggests that air resistance is negligible and only factors in at speeds close to sprinting, which might mean running at 1% incline actually makes the treadmill more difficult than outside. Maybe it's not just me!

I also found this in an internet discussion, indicating treadmill running requires more of the muscles and a higher stride frequency for equal distances:

"Reporting in Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, researchers evaluated the kinematics and biomechanics of treadmill running and determined that running on a treadmill increases the muscular demands made on hip flexors and knee extensors. The authors concluded that treadmill running might improve sprint times due to the extra effort of those key muscles. Other studies have shown that the treadmill requires a higher stride frequency because the treadmill pushes the rear leg forward and the advancing leg must plant more quickly. As a result, a faster cadence and shorter stride produces more steps per mile and the cardiovascular demands of running may be higher on a treadmill than outdoors at the same pace."

Although my hardcore, crazy-self might have had trouble resisting the temptation to trudge through the freezing winds, risking frostbite and hypothermia, I pondered this debate as I put one foot in front of the other on a treadmill set at 1% incline (just in case...)

Nevertheless, I had been looking forward to today. "Why?" you might be asking, "What would be so special about today?"

The weatherman was forecasting a high of 12 degrees today, that's what! I was very eager to run outside and bask in the relative "warmth" of midday.

Against the wind, flurries, and balmy 9-degree temperature, I happily adventured into the outdoors. On a favorite, familiar trail of mine, I ran 4.4 fartlek miles (began the first mile @ 6:45/mile avg pace, then transitioning to 6:00/mile avg pace), followed by a 3.7-mile treadmill cool-down. This brings today's total to 8.1 miles and brings to a close my (thankfully) brief, exclusive treadmill streak.

Note: Reader, if you are either a beginner to the sport or are unfamiliar with this word, "fartlek" is a Swedish term meaning "speed play." It is a type of speedwork, not flatulation of any sort. Now that we have cleared that up...yes, I give you permission to giggle childishly once more at the aforementioned word...we can continue.

Given that today was a speedwork day, I had fewer "profound" thoughts. All I told myself was, "GO." Although, perhaps getting outside helped stimulate some brain juices for some interesting ideas for tomorrow's post. Besides, today was merely our orientation.

Stay tuned.

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