Meeting the Treadmill Challenge

On Tuesday I had my first experience with a treadmill. In preparation for Portugal, our new conditioning coach, Dawn Scott, sent us a training program. The first day’s task was to complete what is called the “progressive treadmill test.” Basically, you start at a run (7.2 miles per hour) and then increase the speed (by 0.6) every 30 seconds. If you get to the fastest speed on the treadmill, then you start increasing the incline every 30 seconds. You run until you can’t run anymore. Pretty intense. Now keep in mind, I literally have never run on a treadmill and don’t even have a regular membership to a gym.

So here I am at the local Y.M.C.A., sprinting at the fastest speed on the treadmill, sweat pouring down my face, straining to maintain my pace, while the walkers and joggers next to me are probably thinking, “this girl is insane!” The test lasts roughly five minutes, so my embarrassment was short-lived, but I was glad when I could leave the treadmill room and get away from all the awkward stares. I was feeling pretty decent about my effort until I texted Heather O’Reilly and found out that she did better than me by about 45 seconds (we’re not competitive or anything). She did have a slight advantage in the fact that she knew my score before she started the test, so I’m going to use that as a bit of an excuse to boost my morale.

After this new and interesting running experience, I returned to the comfort of my usual training environment — the racketball court. This small, white, enclosed area has become an essential part of my training over the years, especially during New Jersey winters. All I need is a ball and my iPod and I can entertain myself in there for hours. As much as I’d love to be able to train in the sunshine on pristine grass fields, I really enjoy having to find new and interesting ways to train and play during the winter. I’ve kicked around in parking garages, school blacktops, parking lots, even the 8-by-6 foot free area of my basement.

During this preparation time before we leave for Portugal, Dawn also has us filling out a detailed food diary for a week. We have to record everything we eat or drink in detail, the time we ingested it, and the amount. Although it can be a pain to have to write down everything I eat (I LOVE food, so my list is very long most days), it’s interesting to analyze my food choices. I am very conscientious about what I put into my body, but I’m sure that Dawn will find some ways to tweak my diet to make it even better and improve my performance and recovery.

O.K., time to go train! I’m down at U.N.C. for a few days (I am getting my jersey retired at the U.N.C. vs. Duke bball game) so I’m hoping the weather is a little bit more mild and I can go outside.