about that one time i ran 20 miles on the treadmill...

1.30.2014


Training for a marathon requires a specific kind of dedication that borders on completely insane. Find a marathoner, and you will find someone who refuses to take no for an answer. Someone who will not accept defeat. Someone who not only agrees to put their body through torture but pays good money to do it, along with literal tears, sweat, and yes, even their own blood. All for a t-shirt.

Basically what I'm saying is, find a marathoner, and you should probably run away because they're crazy, and if you aren't careful they'll lure you into the madness.

After doing it myself, I do not recommend training for a winter marathon. It's hard, and it's cold, and it's just kind of crappy. How's that for an endorsement? Also, if an icepocalypse hits, it just might mean you are forced to do your long runs inside on a treadmill, which is really hard and crappy, although not as cold.

One Saturday in mid-December, I found myself heading toward the gym, trying to pump myself up for a long 20-miler on the dread of runners everywhere. I didn't want to do it, but I could not run outside. There was ice an inch thick covering everything in sight, and I did not want to risk slipping and hurting myself three weeks before my second marathon.

I sincerely hope none of you ever have to do it, but should you find yourself in this kind of situation, here's what I did to make it, if not my favorite run ever, at least bearable.

1. Think Positive Thoughts

Accept the fact that it's going to be terrible, but don't focus on it. Motivate yourself with an inspiring pep talk on your way to the gym so that by the time you get there, you're in a good frame of mind. Trust me, you'll need it.

2. Stake Out Your Spot

You know you're going to be in there for at least a few hours (or if you're me and you're running 20 miles, try four and a half), so make sure you get the best spot possible. Try to face the TV straight so you don't have to twist your neck sideways while you're running. Also, spread your stuff out everywhere. People need to know this is your area.

3. Start Slow. I Mean Really Slow.



This isn't a sprint to the finish. You're the tortoise in this scenario, and your only goal is to finish. It's not going to be pretty, but you're going to get it done. I don't know about you, but for me, running on the treadmill at the same pace I run outside is nearly impossible. Outside, a 10-minute pace feels slooow, but on the treadmill, a 10-minute pace is almost too fast!

When I do long treadmill runs, I completely remove time from the picture and focus on the mileage. DO NOT think you are some Olympic sprinter and try to race the dude on the treadmill next to you. It won't end well for you.

Hypothetically speaking, of course. I've never tried to race anyone on the treadmill.
Obviously.

4. Break It Up

This is, in my opinion, the MOST important part of long treadmill runs. I did not go into the gym thinking about running 20 miles on the treadmill. If I had, I would have never gone in the first place. 

Instead, I focused on running 4 miles at a time. After every 4 miles, I got off the treadmill, took a drink of water, took a bite of my protein bar, texted Jordan my progress (this was not because he cared but because it felt nice to tell someone), and then got back on. It was a short break, maybe 1 minute or so, but breaking my 20 miles into 5 chunks of 4 made a 100% difference in my attitude and really is what kept the run from not being quite as terrible as I anticipated (this was also probably due to my amazing pep talk [see #1]). I couldn't fathom running on a treadmill for 270 minutes, but I could certainly do it for 40.

And so I did.
If it ever came down to it, I know you could run long on the treadmill too. (In fact, Jessica did it just last weekend!)

See also:
10 Tips for Beating Treadmill Boredom (Mile Posts)
Treadmill Workout: 5 Miles in 50 Minutes (from my archives)


What's the farthest you've run on the treadmill?
Do you have any good tips for surviving a long treadmill run?

24 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh. 20 miles is insane! The most I've done is 4.5 and I thought that I would go crazy. Major kudos to you!

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  2. First of all, congrats on that awesome treadmill run! That is amazing. Secondly, thanks for this post. I needed to read this. I am sometimes so tempted to skip a treadmill run because I hate them that much. You have provided great motivation!

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  3. I am so glad I am not the only one who feels like the tempo is off when running outside vs on the treadmill. My pace gets all wonky when I make the switch. Outside seems to boost my confidence more......but.....I just got a treadmill IN MY HOUSE!!!! Marc's grandparents were giving away their gently used treadmill ( more like never used ). I am actually starting to like treadmill running more. Maybe a marathon is in my future. Lol.

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  4. Way to go!!! I have only ran for an hour before and it was pretty brutal. But hey no one ever said thus would be easy!!! If it were easy we wouldn't be doing it!!! Thanks for the tips (:

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  5. AHHH! Once I did 18 on the Treadmill, I think. I blocked it because it was so traumatizing.

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  6. That sounds ridiculous. But good for you for doing it!

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  7. If my memory serves me I think I did a 9 mile run one time on the treadmill. Even though I prefer the treadmill over outside, because I somehow psych myself out more when I'm outside, I get bored, which is usually when I want to hit the stop button!

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  8. I don't know how your brain still functioned after this. Totally impressive. I love the tip to break it into smaller chunks though. I can't say that I will ever be in this position, but maybe the next time I do a 2 miler I'll bring that in to play. ;)

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  9. I'm sorry but being a fellow runner I laughed when I read you had to do a 20 miler indoors. That's just awful - no way around it BUT you did it! I think my 20 mile run involved some rain and a majorly sore IT band. However, I think for me, the key to finishing any, and I mean any kind of long distance is food at the end. I ended my 20 mile run at Granite City's Saturday brunch buffet. =)

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  10. Holy!!! 20 miles on the treadmill? Props to you! I feel like a rat in a wheel when I'm on a treadmill and I get so bored that I've never been able to do more than an hour. I do love what you said about breaking it up though, that has to help!!!

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  11. I know many people would disagree, but I prefer running on the treadmill to running outside. On a treadmill, I set my pace and that's it while outside it's really easy to all of a sudden find yourself going faster and then tiring more quickly. Not that I'm an expert runner. The longest I've jogged (I should say I jog, running is misrepresenting really) on a treadmill is 58 minutes, to prove to myself that I could do it.

    You're amazing Amanda! I wish I could find the dedication to run!

    Sx

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  12. The most I've run on a treadmill continuously is 10 miles, I think. I can't believe you cranked out 20. Impressive! And I totally agree with you about winter marathons.

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  13. I'm planning on signing up for marathon the first weekend of December - my logic was that winter will be pretty mild until then. However, last year there was tons of ice the same weekend of this race and it had to be cancelled - so my logic may not be very sound. Hopefully there won't be too many treadmill runs, though! I don't even like running one mile on the treadmill! I'll keep these tips in mind, just in case!

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  14. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad you posted this! I have been pretty much camping out on the mill for two weeks now thanks to the old man winter dumping all over our country! And I thought I was going to die! Last week I did 4 miles, and it was so difficult. I was thinking I must have messed up somewhere in training that week because it was so hard, but I'm glad you pointed out that it's just harder on a treadmill. WHY is that? I feel like my heart is going to explode when I try to go my regular outside pace! It's nice to hear we're not alone! Here's to warmer, dryer weather soon and until then killing it on the dang treadmill!

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  15. I am actually jealous that you have the equipment to do this! The new years resolution people are still making it impossible to even get on a treadmill around here! And if we can, you get 30 measly minutes. But hey, if I have to give up a good run so someone can stand on the side supports and talk on the phone, then I guess it's okay. :p

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  16. Awwww I just love you for the shout out!! Thank you :) :) Great post! That darn treadmill... I just wish so badly I could love it. So glad we feel the same pain XO

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  17. So smart to give yourself a goal and then give yourself a little break. I always have to have certain mile markers to hit to keep me going like that!!

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  18. Wow, you are a trooper. I think I've run maybe 2 miles on the treadmill...I just hate it! Even when I'm feeling great about my body, thumping away on a machine makes me feel like an elephant. I may have to suck it up and get a one-month gym membership if this snow doesn't let up during 8k training though.

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  19. I'm still stuck on and so impressed by your title. You ran 20 miles on a treadmill? Insanity and impressive ALL at the same time!

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  20. Similar to what you did there is a girl at my gym that training for the marathon on the treadmill and she would switch treadmills every 4-5 miles to "change her view" and keep her from getting bored. So impressive since I had a hard time getting over 6 miles on a treadmill.

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  21. Uh the dreadmill. You are a rock star, my friend. I think breaking it up is essential. Go you!!!

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  22. Ugh I hated the treadmill when I was training, and I never ran more than six miles on one! Kudos to you, ROCKSTAR! (Totally copying the people above me haha.) I'll have to remember these tips if I ever get into running again and need to run on a treadmill. :)

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  23. Hi I want to try distance running as I hear it leans out legs but I can't run very far on the treadmill most I've run is 5miles .what speed should I run at and how can I increase mileage?

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