Hello and welcome to my blog! This blog is as much of an experiment for me as attempting a natural childbirth is. I'll be posting reviews on books I read, experiences I have while attempting to green our lives a bit more, and sometimes, general nonsense I come up with! Please feel free to comment and share information!

I look forward to hopefully making it through this experience with my own interesting story about giving birth naturally!


The Treadmill vs. The Great Outdoors

I love running. I never thought I would say that sentence, but there it is. Up until this past fall, I had never considered running as a form of exercise I would partake in. Of course, prior to last July, exercise was not really something I considered partaking in--so that just goes to show you how much and how quickly our perspectives can change.

What changed? Last fall, I discovered through some online friends of mine, the C25K Training Program. I started it a bit reluctantly, not sure if I would like it--but I was wrong. I loved it! I loved running!

When I decided to start the program, I didn't belong to a gym, so I ran in a cute little park down the street from our house. It isn't a big park, one loop is about or a little over 1 mile, but there are some nice hills and stuff to keep it interesting--and always lots of good people watching:)

I got pregnant in November (though I didn't know this until mid-December), and basically stopped exercising for awhile because I was too tired to open my eyes more or less go out and run. Now, it was the middle of winter, so I joined a gym once I started getting my 2nd Trimester "Second wind". I used the treadmill at the gym and started a Strength Training program with a personal trainer as well. It has been great. I feel good, have been able to keep my pregnancy weight gain at a healthy level, and have been getting stronger and if possible, I think leaner as well.

At first, the treadmill was quite a challenge. I had heard that a "0" incline is basically like running downhill, so I always try to set it around 1.5-2.0 incline. The biggest challenge was facing the boredom of not going anywhere! I had good tunes on my iPod, but seriously, I am running in place smack in front of a mirror. Do I just run and watch myself for the next half hour or so? Do I watch other people? That would be kind of creepy if they caught me. I got in the habit of staring blankly at whatever necklace I was wearing (I wear "small, minimalistic" jewelry and don't usually take it off very often, even for sleep, so yes, I would be at the gym with some jewelry on), until my eyes kind of got out of focus. Similar to looking at one of those "Magic Eye" posters at the Dentist Office where if you stare at it long enough, you actually see the picture. 

("Wow. It's a schooner." 
  "Ha ha ha ha. You dumb bastard. It's not a schooner... it's a Sailboat."
  "A schooner IS a sailboat stupid head!)

Eventually, I got over the boredom and awkwardness of running on a treadmill and was able to run for quite awhile once I hit my stride. As my pregnancy has progressed, I haven't really been able to push it much past a half hour or so. While running, I feel like I could go on forever, it is when I stop that I get light headed and dizzy and need a good 10-15 minutes to recover... so I have given myself a strict 35 min treadmill limit because that seems to be the magic number.

Now that the weather is finally and consistently fairly gorgeous, I have been longing for the days of running in the park. The sunshine, the fresh air, the variety of scenery and of course, the people watching. So, after months of hibernation on a treadmill, I ventured outside last night for a run in the park for the first time since November. I have taken several good power walks in the park with Silas in the stroller, but I hadn't gone out for a run yet.

Well--let me just tell you--having now experienced both kinds of running for a significant period of time and NOT simultaneously, anyone who says there isn't much of a difference between the two is a big fat liar!

I was struggling! At some points, I was going along fine, and others it was like I had come up with a special torture just for myself.

I am sure that being 32 weeks pregnant, and not having really run much in the last two weeks (on a treadmill or otherwise) were also factors in the fact that I couldn't even run two laps without having to stop twice to walk. Technically, I stopped 3 times, but one time I stopped because I had to go to the bathroom:) But, I think the main part was that my body was NOT used to all those ups and downs anymore. I had been conditioned to run at the same level, same pace and after months of it, my body was all... what are you trying to do?! What happened to those ideal running conditions with no variation. Seriously, you want me to run up a hill right now?!

I had naively thought that running at a 1.5-2.0 incline (ok, mostly a 1.5) would keep me conditioned to the running "field" I was used to for the first 2-3 months of being a runner. Yeah--it isn't true. I think a 3.0 or 3.5 incline would have been more appropriate.

Obviously, there are benefits to both types of running, and I don't think it is fair for any person to say one is better than the other. One is better than the other only for each individual person. Naturally, just running itself is a huge benefit to you cardiovascularly, muscularly, mentally even. But, I personally, love running outdoors. The scenery changes before you, even if you are running in circles in a small park, and there are lots of people to watch in a park, which is always a good time. Fresh air never hurt anyone and neither does a little sunlight. Plus, I think the fact that outdoors isn't all one level the whole time gives the added benefits of making the course interesting, and keeps your HR going up and down, which is ideal for max cal burn. But, for cold, windy, rainy, snowy, icy, ultra humid days or whatever--the treadmill is great because it allows you to still get in a good run... without all the uncomfortableness of crappy weather.

Of course, another factor in why my run last night was kind of stinky, my left ankle is hurting. It isn't visibly swollen or bruised or anything, so I don't think it is a major injury of any sort; but it has been hurting on and off since last Monday when I hit the gym for the first time in a week. I think I might have strained it on the treadmill at some point and then running outside last night just sort of made it worse. I have it all wrapped up in an Ace bandage now, I figure better safe than sorry. 

Anyway, people are always debating which is better, the treadmill or the outdoors. I think it is "6 to one, half dozen to the other" (a favorite saying of my dad). This has been my experience with both, and if I had to choose one over the other as the only option for me... the Great Outdoors would win every time. But then again, I am just a little dirty crunchy hippie girl who longs for the great outdoors living in the concrete jungle. 

No comments: