This morning I woke up thinking I was back home in New England. Outside there was a blanket, a fluffy, white blanket. Snow. It came down in flakes big and small as it started to pile up on the sidewalks. Behind my building, I could see accumulation causing forecasters to question how they could underestimate the speed and intensity of the season’s trademark feature. And yet, even as the snow piles creeped up in inches, the work day remained a go and the comfort of my bed became a sudden memory of the past.
But while the snow did not cancel or delay my time at the office, it did affect my re-instituted Tuesday schedule. With the renewal of my training comes the return of evenings at the track, but the return will have to wait for another two weeks. Thanks to the white stuff and the lack of plows available to dig out the 400m lanes on the track, my coaches reluctantly cancelled the evening’s first speed workout. As we were advised to complete the exercises on our own, On the treadmill. Considering my loathing for the deadmill, I couldn’t decide if I was actually grateful for the cancellation.
The benefits of track are twofold: physical and mental. Physically you push yourself to run as fast as you can, sometimes as much as 90 seconds faster than goal race pace. Even though the distances are short, that exertion, that effort, requires so much energy to keep the legs moving.
Much of that effort is mental, staying on point and not letting the mind wander; committing it to focus on pushing through and crossing that lap marker. Just as in yoga when participants are encouraged to focus on the body and the breath and how it feels through transitioning, running has its own mental component.
In a way, the track is like my yoga mat for cardio: a place for me to forget the day’s thoughts and selfishly focus on myself. There, I can concentrate on my form, listen to the heaviness of my breathing, and raise the speed at which my heart races. I can push myself as hard as I desire, a means of testing my limits and improving my strength.
Unfortunately, all those feelings can’t be accomplished on a treadmill. Despite doing the same prescribed workout indoors, the benefits fail to match the high of accomplishment and intensity that accompany 400m sprints in circles. Treadmill running will never come close to making me feel like I do when I run in the fresh air, past museums and monuments and other people who have the same crazy passion for running as me.
So thanks winter for giving me a taste of New England, but no thanks for the ice and inches that force me to entertain myself with Spanish soap operas while running inside.