Weekly Updates: Half Marathon Training at the Gym

Weekly Updates: Half Marathon Training at the Gym


My First Gym Membership

virginia beach rock and roll half marathon
Virginia Beach Half Marathon 2012

“Gyms Are Bad”
I’ve heard so many negative things about gyms from bloggers, runners, and well, everyone. I never even considered one until very recently. I heard that you’re not a real runner if you run on a treadmill. (And apparently you’re not a real runner if you run below a 10 min mi/pace so there goes my title). I heard that gyms are a waste of money. I heard that gyms are an uncomfortable environment for women. I heard a lot of things. But mainly due to the cost, I have always ran outside. I’ve been running outside since I started running for health back in college (over a decade ago!)

But it’s cold outside!
Recently I realized that I haven’t been running because of the weather. It’s been cold, snowy, and rainy here in nyc. It’s hard to motivate yourself to run in those conditions. I’m sure ‘real runners’ do it all the time. So call me lazy but I have no desire to go run in a blizzard. So, I decided, that something is better than nothing despite what “everyone” else says. At the beginning of February I joined a gym.

Maybe it depends on the gym
Unlike the chain gyms, this is a private facility. It is very nyc-esque in it’s size. A reviewed referred to it as a hotel gym. There aren’t classes and the treadmills don’t have screens. But everyone who’s there, is there to work out, not instagram themselves. Thankfully the pricing isn’t contract based. So after I did a trial run of 3 days/$25, I signed up for a full month for $50. I plan to do this for the wintry month of February. I’ll gauge the weather for March. Then probably go back in the summer because running in July is just as bad as running in a blizzard.

Yep, I’m not a real runner
I guess I’m not a real runner because I don’t mind the treadmill. I like that I can control my pace. I’ve tried using a Garmin watch and it’s just too distracting for me. I don’t like to run with any gadgets. So the Treadmill is nice that it provides me all the information of a gadget without actually getting in the way.

Running is Boring
The “treadmills are boring” argument doesn’t up for me. In my opinion, running is boring. Running is hard. Whether you’re outside or inside or on the moon, running 9 miles is a challenge. Sure, outside the scenery changes. But things change inside too. The one disadvantage I’ve found on the treadmill is that at anytime, I can just stop and walk the three blocks home. When I’m out on a long run, even if I stop running, I still have to either walk to a train or walk the rest of the way home – so I might as well just keep running. For the record, I have yet to stop mid-run on the treadmill and bail.

Half Marathon Training for the Brooklyn Half

After running four half-marathons and not using an actual training plan, I’ve decided to try one this time. I’m currently following Run Keeper’s Sub 2:15 Half Marathon Training Plan. I’m at the end of the third week now. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a safe snow-cleared path for the 10 miler scheduled on Sunday.

Using a Training Plan
I’m enjoying following a training schedule. It takes a lot of the guess work out of running. Instead of asking myself how far I feel like running today, I already know how far I have to run. Whether I feel like it or not. It also forces me to do speed work. Without ever using a treadmill, I’ve never been able to really do speed work. I’m excited to give that a go and hopefully will see improvements.

In the spirit of taking advantage of my $50/mo gym membership, I’m also trying to use some of the other equipment like the elliptical and weights to build up my strength in other places. I have been running for a decade but that’s it. I haven’t done much other cross-training other than biking around Manhattan in the summer. Doing non-running workouts helps to bring more variety into my life as well.

Fine, I don’t actually hate running
One thing I’ve been trying to incorporate into this training is a positive attitude. Although I have been running for over 10 years, I have never enjoyed it. I can flat out say that I hate running. It is always hard. It is never fun. I hate runners. I hate how expensive running clothes are. I hate the pretentious attitude in the running world. I hate I hate I hate. Clearly, thinking such negativity is not helping my running! So instead of telling myself how stupid running is while I’m running. I’m trying to flip this around a little bit. I’ve been saying, “I don’t feel like doing this right now but I’m already here so let’s make the best of it.” It’s actually been helping!

Training for Speed
Again, I’ve been running for a long time but never cared about speed. My half marathon PR is 2:20, which I’m proud of. Since I have ran four of these races, I’ve decided to try to up the challenge by using this sub 2:15 training plan. It would be nice to PR this one. I’m guessing this will be my last half for a while. I don’t really enjoy the races (as I don’t enjoy running culture). I’d prefer to just run 4-5 miles in the morning to keep up my health. I don’t really need long runs or speed work if I’m not racing.

Here’s the first two weeks of my sub 2:15 training plan workouts:
Week 1
Miles: 19.55
Time: 3:50:15
Pace: 0:11:25
# Workouts: 5

Week 2
Miles: 22.15
Time: 4:17:39
Pace: 0:11:41
# Workouts: 5

Books: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill's Horns
Joe Hill’s Horns

“Horns” by Joe Hill is a great page-turner that is not quite fantasy and not quite horror, but it is about the Devil. I appreciate Joe Hill not trying to bank on his father’s name, Stephen King. Especially because the writing is so different. I enjoyed this more than most of King’s stories.

Hill tells the story from almost every character’s perspective, which keeps things interesting even though it is the same story each time. Using the multiple perspective technique, eventually you are able to piece together the entire story.

At it’s heart, this is a mystery crime solver. The story starts by the main character, Ig, waking up with horns and with some strange super powers. As the story goes on, you never learn why this has happened to him but that isn’t really important. The crime happened a year ago when Ig’s girlfriend was found raped and murdered in the woods on the same night she broke up with him loudly at a bar. Everyone in town and his family assumed he did it but he was never charged nor cleared. The story of that night unravels through the perspectives of various characters until you finally learn who did it.

The Devil’s powers are explained well and I enjoyed seeing the transformation of Ig from “a man with Horns growing out of his head” into a full fledged red devil with a pitchfork. It’s an easy read but well-written. The characters could have been a bit less caricature but it worked fine in this story.

I rate it 3/5 and recommend it as a good weekend read.

Internet Best Of: Links

How I feel After a Run

Six Ways to Increase Productivity and Get Shit Done – Johnny Moneyseed

Best Manhattan Coffee Shops by Subway Stop via Poncho

February statistically proven to have the shittiest movies – AV Club

Affordability in Kensington – NY Times

Letting Go of Judging People – Zen Habits


11 Replies to “Weekly Updates: Half Marathon Training at the Gym”

    1. A TV screen, some treadmills come with personal TV screens attached so each person can watch a channel of their choice. Of course those machines are double the price of normal ones and you pay for it in membership fees.

  1. I used to hate running outside, in fact, I used to hate running. I would ONLY go to the gym in college and stay on the elliptical. But once I finally got used to the outdoor running, I never looked back. I occasionally hit the treadmill, if I’m on the road in a hotel, and it’s too late for a run in an unfamiliar place, but otherwise, you know how I feel about my NY gym experience- though I’m sure a better gym would make a HUGE difference. I once had a guest pass to Equinox which was REALLY nice (but crazy expensive).

    1. Interesting that outdoor running changed your attitude. For the most part, I can say I hate running. Well, I never enjoy it, it’s never fun for me. It’s always a challenge. I never do it because I want to, only because I know it’s good for me. I feel this way for indoor or outdoor running though. And even during races lol. I’m trying to get a better attitude about it!

  2. I’d been wondering about Joe Hill – Stephen King is pretty much my favorite author. I guess you can’t grow up with him without a little of that weirdness rubbing off on you ;o) And now I’m curious about all those coffee places by the subway stops!

    1. There is an updated map including Queens and Brooklyn of subway stop coffee shops too!

      I definitely recommend “Horns” especially for a King fan. I’ve mainly read The Dark Tower series so I’m not as familiar with King’s horror novels.

  3. I totally agree. I don’t really love treadmill / gym running, but it is effective and works if you don’t like running in the dark or the cold (or for whatever reason).

    The main thing I hate about running in the gym is that it is usually too hot and there is no fresh air from movement. Maybe I haven’t been in a good gym though. To solve that, I did lots of laps on an outdoor track, which is really no less boring and only solves the “dark outside” issue and not the cold.

    I trained for my first marathon using a treadmill for many many many runs, up to 12 – 13 miles. Not ideal, but it worked.

    1. Thanks for mentioning your treadmill training! I know it’s not an ideal solution but it is nice knowing others have done it when necessary. I’m thinking nine miles will be my max on the treadmill. With my current slow pace, that is just a long time to be in one place/on one machine. I don’t have the “too hot” problem at my gym but you’re right as there isn’t actual air flow, which just makes me a sweaty mess. If you have any races coming up, good luck!

  4. You are a real runner! Don’t let running snobs make you feel less than. I don’t really like running on a treadmill because it hurts my legs more than street running, but I do like elliptical training (when I have a gym membership-right now I don’t).

    1. Thanks! That’s a good point of letting other people get to get me. At the end of the day they could actually care less about my time – I’m working on focusing less on that and looking to overall improvement instead. Thanks again for the uplifting attitude!

  5. I so need to get back into running….. I keep telling myself it’s to cold out, but I guess that’s exactly what gyms are for! Good luck training!

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