Saturday, January 12, 2013

An exercise in treadmill frustration

Welcome to my first post as a member of the Hospital Hill Blogging team! I'm very excited to have been chosen to be a part of this team and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences about running in general and training for the 40th Hospital Hill Run.

To those new readers: My name is Amy Lafferty (thus the Laff in the title of my blog. I promise I can spell.) I'm a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom training for my 4th running of Hospital Hill Run half marathon. I've been a runner for almost 15 years. I'm married to Cory, and we have two girls, Molly, 5, and Charlotte, almost 3.

To my old readers (and don't you like being referred to that way?): Watch out for lots more running-related posts. You know you want 'em.

To everyone: I hope you enjoy and at least get one laugh at my expense. That's why I'm here.

This past week has been heaven for a runner like me. Every day this week, my runs have been in temps either right at or above freezing. In January. January?!?! Let's just call it what it is: A freakish warm weather system moving through the Midwest. Or, more commonly: A runner's miracle.

Like most other people, winter is the hardest time for me to get my mileage in. First, it is cold outside, and that always makes it difficult to get that first foot out of the door (or even out of bed). But when you actually do get out the door, you have to contend with the darkness and the snow and ice covering your normal paths and sidewalks.

Confession: I may or may not have an app on my phone that tracks the times of the sunrise and sunset. And, I may or may not check it with absolute obsessiveness in hopes that one day soon it will be light outside for my 6 am run.

The obvious answer to the issues of running outside is to run inside on a treadmill. I even have one in my basement. And, I used to run almost exclusively on it in my days before kids. Every day, without fail, I would get up at 5 am to run six miles on my treadmill while I watched an episode of General Hospital taped from the day before.

Yes, I did just admit that I watch a soap opera to all of cyberspace. I even taped it on a VHS tape if that makes it any worse. Judge me if you want. 

But, now, with two young children who are light sleepers and wake up very early anyway, getting my morning runs in on the treadmill is an absolute exercise in frustration. I'm not just talking about the frustration of running for six miles and not actually going anywhere. I'm talking the frustration stemming from the constant and unabated interruptions from my two "darling" children.

"Mom, can you turn on a TV show for me?"

"Mom, I need a Kleenex."

"Mom, I'm hungry."

"Mom, I'm thirsty."

"Mom, I wanted milk, not water."

"Mom, can you read a book to me?"

"Mom, can we play Candy Land?"

There's nothing better than that constant questioning and demanding first thing in the morning when all you want to do is get some miles in, right? Plus, it should be obvious, as I'm tripping along on a moving belt attached to a big machine in our basement and dripping sweat all over the place, that, of course, I can stop immediately to play a rousing game of Candy Land. Makes perfect sense to me.

But, then, I try to answer. And, it just gets worse. Our conversations usually sounds something like this (as I huff and puff my way through getting words out):

"Mom, I need a Kleenex."
"Welll ... you ... can ... get .... one."
"Get ... one ... right ... there."
"Kleenexes ... beside ... you."
"THERE ... ARE .... KLEENEXES ... RIGHT ... NEXT ... TO ... YOU!"
"AAAAAH!!!!"  I say as I slam my hand down on the stop button on the treadmill. I jump off, try to catch my breath and hand the girl a Kleenex.

Charlotte walks off happy, and I am forced to climb back onto the treadmill and start the whole process over again.

It's enough to drive a mom insane and, truly, not the best way to start off my day.

So, even though this past week has been a wonderful week of January running weather, it doesn't mean I won't be running outside when the temperatures turn back to normal for January. (Like today, it's supposed to snow. 60 degrees to snow in less than 24 hours?!? Arghhh, Midwest winters.)

I will still force my foot out the door when it is 13 degrees, not just for the miles, but also for the pleasure of an uninterrupted hour of time. When I run outside, the only way my kids can interrupt me or ask me anything is if they can catch me. And, for the time being, I'm still faster than my kids are. No games of Candy Land and the only Kleenexes I have to deal with are the ones I stuff in my pocket to wipe my own running nose

Running outside without interruptions keeps me sane and keeps me going. And, yes, I did just say that it was the sane choice to run outside in 13 degree temperatures. Sanity is all relative to a runner. Let's just all agree to call it "lovably crazy." Because without my precious uninterrupted running time, there's a lot more crazy, and a lot less lovable.


  1. Great post! And I love the Kleenex conversation :-)

  2. I love this post! It made me wonder if you could do an interval workout between interruptions! :-)

    1. That's actually a great idea! Maybe that's a way to look at it in a positive way. Interruption = push ups or crunches or squats ...

  3. Great post! I am sure you can offer me some great advice in my training over the next several months.

    1. Thanks! I'll certainly try to be as helpful as I can :)