My Love Affair… with Running. and Treadmills.

Once upon a time I was in junior high and we had to run “the mile”. I dreaded mile running day. Not because I wasn’t in good shape but because i had to run. in a circle. for a mile. it was brutal. i was not a fan.

fast forward a few years to high school. again… running the mile. torture. one of my best friends was on the track team & i’d go cheer her on but never would i ever join her. running by choice?! insanity.

Emilie & I back in high school.

fast forward a few more years to college. vince & nick, two of my good friends, decide to have a run off: whoever can run for the longest period of time without stopping (any pace) wins. the loser buys beer. everyone showed up to watch & cheer. i ran two miles with nick, longer than i’d ever run in my life. if i had to guess i’d estimate we were doing about 12 or 13 minute miles.

fast forward a few more years to “adulting”. a bunch of coworkers sign up for the shamrock shuffle and peer pressure me into joining. i join in and don’t train. i smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day. i go out partying the night before and sleep through the race.

sandy & i at our first race

the next year: 2011. redemption year. i signed up for the shamrock shuffle again and trained. and by trained i mean i ran two miles once and less than that a few times. i had my playlist. i had my running armband thingie to hold my phone for my music. i wore my race t-shirt to the race (running no no). i had some old gym shoes from college that i used. i had never done 4.8 miles or even close to it in my life. but there i was… at the start line in the corral with no idea what to expect. people cheering the whole race long. running past familiar and unfamiliar streets that i would grow to love running on. the announcer telling me i could eat whatever i wanted all day. crossing the finish line without stopping to walk once. HOLY COW i was addicted.

i still hated running.

i didn’t call myself a runner for years.

but i loved racing. keep in mind i wasn’t fast… i ran that race rocking 11:33 a mile and i was beaming. i was so freaking pumped. so i immediately signed up for the race to wrigley 5k- i wanted to cross another finish line!

and then i signed up for a half marathon. i know…. 8k to 5k to half marathon. whatever. it worked. i signed up to fundrace for PETA and followed their training schedule. i remember going camping one weekend and missing my saturday long run and getting it in on a dark monday night by the lakefront when the lightening bugs were out and there were couples strolling along the path. i remember listening to hunger games on audio book to keep me entertained through those hours of running. but i stuck to my schedule and woke up early to learn to love the lakefront sunrises. i stopped hating running but i still didn’t quite like it.

i rocked that medal all night

i finished that half marathon just barely and i remember telling my mom as i practically crawled across the finish line “never. ever. ever. let me sign up for anything like this ever again! no matter what!”

so two years later i registered for the chicago marathon.

running the 2013 chicago marathon

i still wasn’t really a runner. or i didn’t feel like it. i did a bunch of 5ks and every year rocked that shamrock shuffle, but i didn’t love running. until that summer training for the marathon with other people. i ran with CARA (an awesome group to run with in chicago!). i was in pain most of the summer due to foot injuries or knee trouble or bad shoes or bad whatever. but i showed up and i ran that race. and during that training i met a girl who loved winter running. i was so confused. what was this madness? one of the great things about living in chicago was you got all winter off training, right?

well i never quite found her love of winter running and since treadmill running is basically the worst thing ever, i just took off every winter. i could run 20 miles by the lake but could barely get out 2 on the treadmill. even when i started edging toward under 10:00/mile on the road, doing 11 or 12 on the treadmill was brutal and i felt like i was sprinting. i hated everything about it. so i never did it unless i had to. which really, when does one ever “have to” run on a treadmill? never. so i never did it.

then i moved to San Diego where i could train year round! Yes… we complain about the cold here in the winter and talk about how it’s 50 degrees and we couldn’t possibly run outside. but of course we do. all bundled up of course. and then i still head back to chicago once a month for work. well that just throws a wrench in everything! now that I live in san diego and train year round, that means there are early season races to do. and runs to do in winter. and weeks i can’t afford to take off. but… in chicago that means under armor gear and gloves and hats, right? or brave the dreaded treadmill? i’d rather wear the gloves and hat.

until now. when i was in chicago last week i went to Runner’s High, a new running studio. that’s right… a running studio! it’s right in old town and easily accessible by public trans. i found parking pretty quickly when i was there too (yeah i am one of those people that drives in chicago now). when i first heard about it i was a bit intrigued but also very confused. i love my spin studios and yoga studios but how could you do a group treadmill running class? and dude. it’s on a treadmill. sounds like torture!

it was anything but.

similar to the spin classes i love, the room was dimly lit. you could obviously see everything you needed to see, but it wasn’t like bright lights. and the music was BUMPING! you totally get energized from the loud pumping music. and the instructor!!! she was the BOMB! totally motivates you throughout the class. i did the distance run & it was probably the longest run i’ve ever done on a treadmill.

how does it work? prior to class you enter into your account online how fast you can comfortably run a mile. the whole class is then based around that time. i, of course, put in a time that was suuuuuper comfortable just in case… i didn’t want to pass out on a treadmill or anything. then throughout class you do intervals where the treadmill will automatically adjust the speed and incline. plus you get some sweet breaks. AND there’s a huge screen in the front with beautiful scenery so while you’re not actually outside, there’s still interesting stuff to watch.

for some reason watching TV while i’m on a treadmill doesn’t do anything to make it less painful for me, but watching these waterfalls and trails and mountains actually did help!

so now when i head to chicago during the winter i can actually get in my training runs instead of cheating myself and just rocking the elliptical!! i’m so excited to go again & introduce it to all my friends!

find runner’s high on facebook, insta, or their website.

now we need to open one of these in san diego when the temps are below 60…

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