Twenty minutes felt easier than eight

As I mentioned in another post, I am working through the Couch 2 5K program with goals of strengthening, improving health, weight loss, and to enter the Reno Color Run -  and to enjoy myself. Thursday was the second day of week 5 and due to drizzle and strong wind, I ran at the gym on the treadmill. The two 8 minute runs were miserable. I was hot, could not get into a rhythm, and kept focusing on the time. I found myself feeling the need to grasp the handles every 30 seconds or so and convinced myself that I might not even make it. I came home angry and disheartened…especially because the upcoming Saturday run was to be 20 minutes without break.

With this experience behind me, I changed my playlist to help me keep a relatively steady running tempo, laced up my shoes, and headed out the door. To my surprise, the 20 minute run was easier than the two 8 minute runs. Since I was running HIIT before, I have not run for 20 minutes without intervals of walking since 2010 (back when I was a mere 51 years old).

So why did 20 feel easier than 2 eights? I have spent some time analyzing this. 1) It is cooler and fresher outside than in the gym. 2) The scenery is more interesting. 3) I keep my phone in my pocket so I have no specific idea how much more time I have. Instead, I am running toward a general target. 4) It takes me several minutes (even after the 5 minutes brisk warm-up walk) to get warmed up on my run. At the point of warmed up, the run gets easier for me. 5) The less obvious issue with the treadmill is that it is harder to vary my pace and stride because I have to manage running while trying to change the speed. 6) Of course, outside there are no handles.

So, even though there is an elevation ascent of 105 feet during my run, running outside feels easier. Outside, when I am in my zone (have only briefly gotten there up to this point), there is a feeling of freedom. With each step, my contact with the ground is gone (if only briefly).

Lesson learned: Unless there is a hurricane or solid ice – run outside.

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