Since I’m very busy at work, in the middle of writing a second book, and trying to be a good husband/father, the most convenient time for me to work out is during my lunch hour. This isn’t a big deal. There’s a gym close to my work and the exercise in the middle of the day keeps me sharp and focused for the remainder of the afternoon. The only downside to using the gym is, on days that I run, I’m forced to use a treadmill. I’d much rather be outside running – especially on days like today when the temperatures are in the high fifties and there’s nothing but blue skies and sunshine outside my office window. But since my office doesn’t have a shower handy, I go to the gym.
When I started running at the gym last summer, Marathon Girl informed me that running on a treadmill is a lot different than running outside. She said to best way mimic an outdoor run, I needed to make sure I was running on the treadmill with an incline of three percent. Running with no incline, she said, is like running downhill. As a result when you try to run outside again, you’ll struggle.
Of course, I ignored her advice. Sure, Marathon Girl’s a world-class runner, won two marathons, etc. but what could she possibly know about running on a treadmill? Not much, I thought.
So I had to learn my lesson the hard way. Back in February, Marathon Girl and I went on a run together. I had no expectations of keeping up with her but I was surprised at how hard the five mile run was for me. I had to stop three times and catch my breath.
During one of these breaks Marathon Girl asked if I was having a hard time with the course.
“Yeah,” I said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me today.”
“Do you get winded when you run at the gym?”
“Are you running with an incline on the treadmill?”
I looked away. I wanted to blame the twenty pounds of muscle I’ve added in the last year, the cold weather, or anything except for the fact I hadn’t listened to her.
“That’s what I thought,” Marathon Girl said as she turned and started running again.
The next time I ran at the gym, I added a slight incline, slowly raising it every week until I can now complete a four mile run in under thirty minutes with a three percent incline.
Thankfully, all that hard work paid off.
Last Monday I didn’t have a chance to work out during lunch. After I got home Marathon Girl suggested we put the kids in the stroller and go running together. Of course she kicked my butt, but I was able to keep up with her and complete the entire run in a decent time without stopping or getting winded – even while pushing a stroller with Aidan in it.
After the run, Marathon Girl put her arm around me and complemented me on being able to keep up with her.
“I take it you’ve been running with an incline on the treadmill.”
“Yeah,” I said. “How on earth did you know.”
Marathon Girl just smiled at me and walked into the house.
I’m never ignoring her running advice again.