I like to take my smartphone with me when I run. It functions as a camera and music player all in one with the added benefit of a map, gps, and phone if I need it (assuming there is cell service). I have a small Ipod Shuffle, but still find myself carrying the phone mainly for the camera on it. On long runs when I wear a pack it is easy to throw it in a front pocket. On runs where I carry nothing or a hand bottle it normally stays at home, until today.
Last night I found an old soft glass case. The kind with the clip on the side. I remembered reading this article on Anton Krupicka’s blog a while ago. It is a FAQ and he states he carries a camera in a soft glass case tucked into his shorts. My phone was a little too wide to fit in the case, so I ripped the seam out and placed some Duct tape in the gap to make it big enough to hold my phone. Today on my 8 mile run I tucked it into my waist band on the side and off I went. It never bothered me and after a while I did not even notice it was there.
My biggest concern with this method is the moisture that builds up in that area, especially in the summer. My phone is in a waterproof case, so this is not an issue for me, but it is something you may want to consider before trying this out. Today’s run was hot and humid and hard, so I generated a lot of sweat. At the end my phone and case were dry. The fake leather glass case did a good job keeping moisture away from the phone even through my shorts and shirt were fully soaked.
Over the past few months I have been training pretty consistently for the Mountain Masochist 50+ mile race. Last year I started this race and DNFd at the midway point. I was very under-trained and went out way too fast. This years race will not be a repeat of that. Since I have been logging a lot of Hot and Humid summer miles I have seen a lot of wildlife. This includes the normal small game like squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, turtles, frogs, toads, birds, and small snakes. Nothing too out of the ordinary. On a few occasions I have seen some picture worthy wildlife and in one case have a good story to go along with it.
In early June I was out on a long run on the roads. There is an old road near my house that is closed to traffic and used as a running / bike path. I was on one of the seldom used and gated access roads. The days before had some very windy storms so there was a lot of blow down. I was wearing my subscription sun glasses, but they were steamed up so my vision was not perfect. As I ran along the road I got within 5 feet of the largest copperhead I have ever seen in the wild or captivity. I almost ran right over it due to the foggy glasses. Luckily I had my camera with me and snapped this picture. The average length is 2 to 3 feet according to multiple sources. This guy was at least 4 feet long. I wish I would have measured the leaf laying behind him for perspective. He did crawl away slowly once he saw / felt me.
A few weeks ago I was running on some dirt roads near my house and saw this copperhead from a distance. I had to stop and take a picture because he had just caught a rat. I would estimate he was a little over 3.5 feet long. A good size snake, but not nearly as big as the one above. I ran past him (or her) again 20 minutes later and the only part of the rat visible was its hind legs. I really wish I would have taken a second picture.
While we were on our summer vacation a bear mauled our wooden swing set. We have a large black bear population where we live, so I was surprised, but it was believable, especially after we saw the teeth marks and black hair on it. So I had bears on my mind a few days later when I was on a long run. The road i was on is closed to traffic (same road as above) and I was on a very isolated part of it. I saw a bear running through the field beside the road. On the other side of the road is a canal, which is the boundary of a swamp. As the bear hit the road it started to jog right at me. It was not running hard, but just casually jogging. I put down my camera when it got 50 yards away and started to blow the whistle on my running pack. The bear did not even look and just kept coming. I think started to do a bear dance, yelling and jumping up and down. I finally got its attention, but it kept coming. I upped the intensity of the bear dance and finally it looked again and decided to jump into the woods. I can only assume it swam the canal and was off into the swamp. The picture was zoomed in pretty far, as I put the camera away at one point to start getting the attention of the bear. I was up wind of it, so it did not smell me. Bears have poor eye sight, so my best bet was yelling at it. In the end that worked well. Below are some pics from the swing set.
Treadmills have been around for a long time. There is nothing polarizing about them. The “I hate treadmills” camp is strong, but I have a hard time finding anyone in the “I love treadmills” camp. There is also a strong opinion that running on treadmills is easier than running outside on pavement. I am not here to argue this point one way or the other. I for one am on the opposite side of this and think running on a treadmill can certainly be harder than running on pavement outside (given the conditions outside are similar). It is fine if you disagree and I will not say you are wrong or right. What may be harder for may certainly may be easier for you.
There are some major advantages to treadmill running:
1. Uphill Training – Unless you live in the mountains you probably do not have access to a hill that theoretically never ends. A treadmill gives you this. If you do have access to long hills you will have to run down after getting up. This may not always be ideal if you are going for just an uphill workout. I am an ultra runner and love mountainous races. I live in an area with 0 hills. The treadmill is essential to prepare me for the long 1000+ feet climbs of most of the races I run.
2. Speed / Temp Training – A treadmill allows you to hit a pace and stay there. You can turn your brain off a bit and just focus on pushing through the workout. You can easily measure your effort and improvement over a time period based on the same or similar workouts.
3. Mental Toughness – Most people will agree that running on the treadmill takes some mental toughness due to the boredom it brings. With no change in scenery you can quickly get bored. In my opinion (at least in ultras) being mentally tough is just as important as being trained properly. Hanging in on those tough treadmill workouts when your mind is bored and you can easily quit without having to walk 3 miles back to your house or car builds that toughness. Ultras that consist of loops are tough because of this car factor. A few years ago I dropped out of the Umstead 100 miler after 87 miles. I was at my car and a warm fire. If I was feeling that bad at a different point in the race I still would have had to walk it in and who knows, maybe I would of felt better. It is always easier to quit when you can quickly have the creature comforts we are accustomed to.
4. Race Simulation – Treadmills allow you to simulate a race course and reduce its length. A coach I had a few years back put me onto this idea. Break down your race into %incline of every segment and then simulate those climbs and flats/declines on the treadmill. This has really caught on as some treadmills now have a capability to upload a gps track and they will automatically change the incline based on real world data. I am going to write a post on this sometime soon and go into more detail about my manual way of doing this.
5. Time Saving – Unless you live near the hills or track you want to train on a treadmill can save you time (especially if it is in your home or at your work). I have a treadmill at my house and my office complex has one in its workout room. I can easily do a run at lunch or anytime at home. This gives me more time due to less driving, money savings on gas, and more time with my family.
6. Climate – Sometimes the weather is not cooperative even for experienced mountain runners. My former coach had a top of the line treadmill because he lives at high altitude in Colorado. The winters are snowed in, but he still had a need to get in quality workouts. This guy is no slouch as he has won the Vermont 100 and Leadville 100 twice. In my case the summers are hot and humid. This weekend the low is 80 with a “real feel” of 90. The high is 100 with a “real feel” of 115. I am sure I could go out and hit my long run in this weather if I ran at night and went really slow. I am choosing the treadmill instead. I know I will get a better workout this way and not be exposed to the heat and all the possible ailments it brings. I am not training for a hot race so why should I expose myself to this extreme heat when I can run a Race Simulation instead?
I hope you will consider the treadmill as just another tool to help you reach your goals. It can hold a key place in most runners training and can be very helpful in reaching your goals. In the following months I am going to continue to expand on each of the above points and hopefully give some more insight into how the treadmill can be a useful training tool. So what do you think, are treadmills useful to you or are they nothing more than “dreadmills”?