Saturday, April 24, 2010

Running on the treadmill in Cabo

I was in Cabos, Mexico with my family this past week while my kids were on spring break. I loved Cabo, however, running on the roads there was less than desirable. I ran the beach one day which was great for my cardiovascualr system, but lousy for my running form and injury prevention considering the beach was steeply pitched and had very loose sand. So I hit the resort gym on Monday morning to put some time in on the treadmill. The treadmills looked out over the beach and at the famous rock formations in the ocean at the southern tip of Cabo where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific - not a bad view while torturously running and running in place. There was no AC in the gym. Just a slight breeze blowing in through the open windows. This run was going to be a hot one considering I wanted to get in some tempo work. I brought the treadmill up to 8.5 and hopped on expecting to settle into a 7 min mile pace and almost ran through the front of the machine as the dope in me soon realized the machine was set up in Kilometers per hour.

During the warm-up I was still feeling the omelet I ate less than an hour earlier because I showed no self restraint at breakfast. This is a family vacation and my training shouldn't interfere with that so if I can sneak in some training during the trip, bonus. If not, I've done this long enough to know that A) a week isnt going to seriously effect my plan, and B) some things are more important. However, my son coincidentally had a buddy staying at the resort (what are the chances of us running into a familiar family - one of Ryan's teammates - 3000 miles away from home staying at the same resort?), and Kate had no trouble meeting friends within minutes of arriving at the resort, meaning I could sneak out at the right opportunities for a little bit of me time.

Out in the Sea of Cortez, a few surfers were patiently waiting for the right set to come rolling in. Surfing is something that requires a tremendous amount of fitness, yet surfers don't consider it training whatsoever as they paddle vigorously, pop up and balance using much of their core and lower body. They are engulfed in the thrill which is quite contrary to endurance sports. Going out for a run is not fun like surfing. Don't kid yourself - the outcome and of the training makes it rewarding. Yes, there are times during runs that can be fun, but as a whole, it's really feeding the endorphins and the reward of the accomplishment. There isn't the thrill of excitement like there is in surfing, or playing a pick-up game of basketball, or skiing. As I watched the surfers, my motivation for running on the treadmill dipped a bit, yet viewing the majority of chubby people poolside in their bathing suits kept me going. But am I really that caught up in vanity? I've been married now for 15 years and I don't think Lisa is going anywhere. Not that I would stop training anyways, but just entertaining the fact that part of the reason I was sweating buckets in place at the moment was to not feel guilty about overindulging a bit on vacation. I feel better plus of course I know that I'll go faster with little bodyfat, but I'll also generalize that every endurance athlete is somewhat vein. Maybe it just bothers me a small bit that we are, but it is a reality.

With the warm-up done, I brought the treadmill up to 15 km per hour and did 6 X (2 min at a 6% grade, 3 min at a 1% grade). A heavy, older guy is now huffing and puffing as he walks on the treadmill next to mine. By interval number two, I was focused on just the training and I felt strong. I was zoned in on only the task at hand and all the previous distractions dissipated. I stayed in this clear headed, single focus mode until the cooldown where it hit me; sessions like this are the catalysts that help me relax. Trying to relax beachside, my mind is all over the place. But when I'm doing a harder training session, I'm focused only on one thing and it naturally kind of blanks out my mind. And for the rest of the day I feel better because of it and I'm much more tolerant of anything thrown at me.

As I stopped the treadmill, exhausted yet feeling great, the fat old guy next to me says "is that all you got you big pussy?".

Sorry for the long blog hiatus. I'm back now.