Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Restless Mind of an Off Season Runner

This blog is really a question of motivation during some of the years toughest training months, November and December. Most of us leave for work in the dark and by the time we arrive home at night it's dark again. With the winter solstice just a couple days away this will start to change, but we still have to fit work outs into the dark and cold until at least the end of March.

When I wrote and posted my last entry, Treadmills: Going Nowhere Fast, I felt like a bit of a jerk. I know some fantastic people and incredibly successful athletes that run the mill, but nonetheless I still didn't see the point in beating one's self up on that thing...until I started to get some feedback via comments, emails, and conversations. It's my problem that I can't' stand the mill, but the motivation and passion for running these people have to run on these things blows my mind. By and large folks agreed the treadmill wasn't all that pleasant, but they did what they had to do get in a run or the training necessary to compete. People like Sue Lucas, who needs no introduction, live in climates where it's just not possible to always be out running. She loves her mill to boot. Then there's "Moogy" who I don't know, but who spends months at a time working on ships and runs in front of his HD flatscreen for three hours at time so that when he's home he's fit to run ultras. There's also Mr. Deadmill Fury who emailed me to say he liked the mill for it's convenience and precision. Like many others he appreciates the speed, distance, etc. precision. Of course he wants to be out running, but sometimes it just doesn't fit into the schedule. Finally there's Brook who wouldn't comment. I caught her going to the treadmill at the gym though and she immediately laughed and put her down. It was ironic that she had just read my rant and now here I was. She was honest in saying what other women had said, it's sometimes just not safe for women to be out there after dark, especially on the trails; plus she had been injured for a while.

Anyway, for whatever the reason folks are hitting the treadmill, I am astounded at their passion and resulting devotion to running. It doesn't matter how or where, they just want to run. That I get.

So how does this relate to motivation? Since late September I 've found myself restless with running and subsequently a bit unmotivated, particularly on the cold, wet nights after a days work. I inevitably power through it, sometimes because I commit to a workout via Twitter and the entire social network knows I said I'm going so I have to, but really because I love the feeling I get when I'm done. I always feel great when I'm finished, whether it's a gym workout, a XC burner, a night run, a climb up BCMC, or a snowshoe running session.

Slowly but surely this restless runners mind is coming to ease thanks to the motivation/passion of treadmill runners believe it or not. Perhaps I'm coming to terms with the variety that is inherent in this time of year. As well, I've noticed that some amazing athletes, like Adam Campbell and Jude Ultra, have started posting their 2011 schedules which has prompted me to do the same. (That's another blog post though). Being a goal oriented person, like so many runners, I find it helps to start thinking ahead and determining what it will take to be at my best throughout the year.

For now I need to heed my own mantra and RUN NOW. Restlessness is not part of running in my mind, but it seems to have gotten the better of me without my permission.

Happy running and playing this holiday season. Eat hard, run harder.


  1. Hi Tom, just finished 8 miles on the dreadmill :) Really, I have to admit at times it is a dreadmill but it's so much better having my own at home than having to go to the gym and fight for one. I totally believe that ultrarunning is 90% mental. Sure you have to be in shape but if your not mentally tough your not going to be able to get through those tough spots in a 100 miler. I use those long 4 hours runs on the dreadmill as mental preparation :) I'm also a goal oriented person and without a race to focus on I'm a slacker. So on that note I had better find myself a few races to focus on. Happy running...

  2. I don't think you came off like a jerk one bit and when valid reasons were presented, you were very gracious towards them.

    December is the hardest month for me to get on the treadmill...especially already feeling cooped up and house bound from all the snow. Hopefully come January we will all feel renewed motivation!

  3. Good post mrCraik. I agree with "itsagoodmorning." You have an opinion but are receptive to new information that may cause you to change it. A fair approach to thinking.

    It takes a lot of will power to head out in a driving rain storm too.. don't forget. But best of luck to all you deadmill runners.

  4. I also agree that you didn't in anyway come off sounding like a jerk. It was a great post about treadmill running and it was interesting to hear what other's have to say. It's certainly not for everyone.

  5. Maybe I'll seya at FatDog?

  6. Tom I agree, you didn't come across as a jerk. I think you presented some strong points of view and started a great discussion. And you are providing a great support network for many of us who are struggling through the dark cold winter months.

    I try to limit my treadmill runs to early mornings (when a running partner can't be found) or dark evenings when time is limited or safety is a concern. I also have a rule which I try to stick with, weekend mornings are for running on trails (the muddier the better) not deadmills this helps me get through my mill sessions.

    see ya on the trails soon;)

  7. Nice post, Tom! Last year I had exactly 2 runs on the treadmill and about 2 runs on the road. I'm with ya. I've got nothing but respect for those who can find the mental resolve to do their thing on the treadmill. But me, I can't imagine ever being that mentally strong. UGHh. Merry Christmas to you and your family!