Two months ago today I read a blog posting by TMB at Racing With Babes titled, i am a treadmill slacker.

I immediately thought to myself before even reading her post.  A treadmill slacker? Not me. No way.  I work harder than anyone I know, on the treadmill [an irrational self centered thought – but hey I’m being brutally honest]. 

Instead of really understanding what she had said, I turned it around and got defensive towards myself.  She finds it hard? Well so do I and I’m certainly not slacking.

I left a comment trying to make her feel better about her ‘sucking wind’ –

I don’t think I’m a slacker but if it makes you feel any better my marathon pace last spring was 7:40 and on all the long runs leading up to the race I had a hard time holding a 9 min pace on the treadmill. I’m a surge runner – so I go faster then slower repeatedly during each mile. The treadmill is too consistent of a pace for me so it’s SUPER hard :)

I’m not sure who I was trying to make feel better, TMB, or me – but it probably made neither of us feel better!!!  I will however say that my comment is true – I could barely hold a 9 minute pace last spring on the treadmill.

I found myself multiple times running on the treadmill and thinking to myself while running a 6.0 pace, which is a 10 minute per mile average, that I wasn’t slacking.  I was pushing myself.  I got angry. 

I really didn’t understand why her post had struck such a nerve with me. 

Was it my own insecurities?  Was I secretly jealous that TMB could run a 9:40 pace and I could barely hold a 10 minute pace on most days. 

I tried to talk myself off a ledge multiple times….but then it clicked. [I’m assuming I had more sleep this night as most of my irrational unexplained behaviour and thoughts lately, I’m blaming on the fact that I have not gotten more than 4 hours in a row of sleep in a VERY long time]

What clicked was — I’M A TREADMILL SLACKER

TMB was right and if I had never read her post I might still be a slacker.

I was simply running too slow on the treadmill and it was throwing my form all off.  I was winded and tired from altering my gait to stay on the treadmill at a 10 minute pace.  How do I know this? Because even my slowest miles outside are not 10 minute miles, and technically since there is no wind resistance, hills etc. on the treadmill I should be able to at least maintain or come close to my average easy pace outside.

I’ve since moved my slowest pace up to a 6.5.  I do no runs slower than this pace now.  I also since reading her post have been able to take my treadmill mile PR to an ALL TIME personal best of 5:49.  Further I was even able to run my fastest and longest treadmill tempo ever. [prior to running B & A last year I was only able to complete 3 miles tempo at my top speed]

I guess this means I owe TMB a thank you or maybe even an apology?

You were right – I was treadmill slacker.  Not anymore.

So now that I’m not a slacker I’ll tell you how I think I was able to run a mile pr on the treadmill.

I worked on my form.  I made sure my arms were not tense and were swinging in a forward motion and not side to side.  I didn’t clench my fists as I ran but made sure to hold my butterfly.  Lastly I worked on my breathing.  Typically when I start to run fast I start to feel like I am hyperventilating, then slow to catch my breath.  For me attempting a mile under 6 minute pace left no room for slowing to catch my breath.  I slowed my breathing.  For the first minute or so I literally felt like I was suffocating – after that a funny thing happened.  My breathing was so controlled that I was able to run fast with out feeling like I was going to die.  Every time I doubted myself during that mile I would focus on controlling my breathing.  Taking a deep breath and opening up my lungs.

Here’s my thank you… 

THANK YOU TMB for unknowingly helping me to become a better, stronger, and faster runner.  Thank you for helping me realize that I shouldn’t always turn things around and make them about me.  Thank you for also helping me to remember that though I would love to say I know everything there is to know about running, I have plenty more to learn!  You rock :)

Are you a treadmill slacker?


  1. This was such a great post, on so many levels! I think the best part of reading blogs is to be inspired, and to learn, and to even have to look at hard truths about ourselves! I have certainly learned a lot, and have been pushed in many ways.

    P.S. I am a big sucker for fellow Moms with kids. I love that we're all in it together, even if we're not all at the same speeds, etc. etc. etc. It is nice to know of others out there who juggle family, etc.


    I completely accept your apology. 😉

    I'm so happy to think that my post motivated you. Especially considering that your progression as a runner, motivates me every day. You've proven that hard work pays off and I know that it will for me too.

    p.s. Since I wrote that post, I have worked on my treadmill form too. Makes all the difference.

  3. S Club Mama says:

    5 1/2 minute mile? holy buckets! wow.

  4. Jake Rosen says:

    Great post! Treadmills are such a great way to build some muscle and push your pace. I like running against other treadmillers near me whether they know it or not. Maybe we should organize a treadmill half-marathon.

  5. Amanda@runninghood says:

    Great reflections Dorothy. I think this is true for myself with many of the blogs I read…they help me be a better runner. I reflect on things that strike a cord with me and usually I end up learning the most from the posts that I have an initial disagreement with…they make me think. :) Initially I thought that the treadmill was easier for me since I could just set the pace and go but then after reading everyone's comments on my post about that, I started to notice myself as runner more and realized that I run much better outside than on the TM. It is hard to hold on on the treadmill when it is so monotonous and you're solo. Kudos to you for doing a 5:49 on the TM! I think that running sub 6ish pace is hard enough on a track with hundreds of people cheering you on and others to compete with.

  6. Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal says:

    @Jake – When I used to run/workout at a gym I would 'race' anyone next to me. Glad I'm not the only one who does that :) I like the idea of a treadmill half marathon! I've been wanting to attempt a marathon for some time now but always chicken out because I love doing 'real' ones so much.

  7. Meredith says:

    Great post! Love TMB! When I got my treadmill last fall I was totally a slacker. Rather, I was not used to running on the mill and it was HARD! But, I hated seeing the ending time and bumped it up. I make myself stay at 6.3 for the 1st mile regardless of what I'm running (because technically, my "easy" runs are supposed to be slower) But, by mile 2 it goes to 6.4, then 6.5. I try to pace myself and space the increase out. But, by the last mile I like to bump the pace up every .1 and often find myself sprinting, soaked and completely smiling at the end! I now LOVE pushing it on the mill!

  8. Stefanie D. says:

    Thanks for posting this! I will have to go and read TMB's treadmill post. I am totally a treadmill slacker, and I REALLY need to work on my form.

  9. Gracie (Complicated Day) says:

    I am such a treadmill slacker – I will go half a mile and get off. I just don't enjoy it and I like to be happy when I exercise so I don't focus on the part where I feel like barfing, haha.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Interesting post. I always go slower on the TM because I train by HR and my HR in a hot gym is always higher than outside. It's human nature to make everything about ourselves, just as long as we don't ignore others!

  11. Shellyrm ~ just a country runner says:

    I usually run faster on the treadmill simply to be done. But we both know that at some point form is sacrificed for too much speed. So in a sense I am a treadmill slacker too, simply slacking in my form. I do loads of miles and often loads of speed work but it doesn't really benefit me if I'm allowing my form fail.
    Great job recongizing an issue and addressing it!

  12. If you consider someone who refuses to get on a treadmill a treadmill slacker than I am the biggest one there is! 😉

  13. I remember reading that post and thinking to myself that it was really hard to run on a treadmill indoors. I tried to run faster on the mill, but something was holding me back (maybe the thought of getting injured, I'm not sure). I finally got a chance to go do a track workout a couple of weeks ago, and doing 400 and seeing my times from the Garmin helped me realize that I can run much faster that I have allowed myself to run. Since than I have dialed it up a notch on the mill and have had some really Galactic BadA** runs since than!! I think you are right about the form. I seemed to have better form when I am running faster. I think it's just like riding bike, hard and wobbley to ride slow but going faster makes it easier (to a point).

  14. mickiruns says:

    OHH my goodness. Must put down the hummus and go run. I am, for sure, a treadmill slacker. Thanks for the motivation!!

  15. I avoid the treadmill all together (been 14 months since my last mill run). I've found that no matter what pace I run, it's just different than the road in terms of feel, pace, form, etc. And, since I race on the land, I think I should train on the land.

    With that said, just because the treadmill isn't right for me, doesn't mean that's the case for everyone. I'm continually impressed with how much both you and TMB are able to do on the mill while taking care of your kids and kicking butt in your races.

    And, what you're saying about breathing is true anywhere. I've found that the more I can focus on that when races/runs get tough, the better I'm able to push through. I'll be thinking about your point on slowing my breathing down this weekend!

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