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Tim Bergsten created this Ning Network.

The prodigal blogger returns!  My June got away from me with work stuff, family visiting and a stomach bug after Garden of the Gods!  But I'm back...and no whiny freakouts about the Ascent this time, haha! 

Summer Roundup is tomorrow!  My "race" plan (if you can even call it that, hence the scare quotes) is similar to Garden of the Gods...I'm just going to treat it as a fun run since I don't think I'm in traditional race shape due to focusing solely on the Ascent.  But if I start the first mile and feel like racing after all, I'll go for it!  I'll post a report tomorrow, either way.  I'm sure my five blog readers are awaiting with bated breath. ;-)

The strangest thing about my Ascent training is how reliant on the treadmill I've become.  My whole running life, I've loathed the dreadmill, though I've had the odd few-week spurt here and there over the years where I'll do a ton of treadmill runs for some reason.  I love trails, and I actually love roads too as long as they're in a low-traffic area (I grew up in San Antonio on the outskirts of the Texas Hill Country, so I enjoy running in hilly neighborhoods...why they have to be hilly, no idea, but I've never enjoyed running in flat subdivisions for whatever weirdo reason.  It's funny how mental running is, how we all have those little tricks and routines that make or break a run!).

But since March, I've eschewed frolics in grassy meadows and excursions through forests for trudging on a hamster wheel in my dreary, messy basement.  I started out doing runs on there so I could control the incline and control how fast I was going...I've been trying to do tempo runs at Ascent race pace or faster, using the notorious Skyrunner.com pace calculator and the Ascent grade map to figure out what that pace should be depending on the course section. 

Running indoors doesn't inspire photos the way the outdoors does, so this was the best I could find to go with this post!

But somewhere along the way, nearly every single run has become an incline run down in my basement.  It's the weirdest thing!  There have been some days where I legitimately have to run downstairs, due to weather since I have to run in the afternoon and evenings or maybe because of time constraints (my work day is unpredictable because it's based on what happens in the news, so my day can become a 12-hour one pretty fast).  But there have been so many other days where I actually CHOOSE it over the trails.  I cannot stress enough how UNLIKE ME THIS IS.  I am very routine-oriented and I get very obsessed with things for short periods of time (not weird obsessed, just the "want to read nothing but Tudor history for five or six weeks" type of obsessed), so I think part of it is I've picked up the habit and will just want to keep running this way for awhile until I eventually get tired of it and want to go back to my usual outdoors. 

But I'm also really enjoying the pleasures of running to music.  I do NOT run with headphones outside, for a number of reasons ranging from safety to just preferring being outdoors without them to the headphones annoying me when I move freely.  So this is a new thing for me, and because I love music and moving to music so much, I'll even have days where I've downloaded new songs to my iPod and start just itching to run on the treadmill so I can listen!

I'm also having fun running to Netflix.  I never let myself watch Netflix during my work week, so it's become this new little treat to myself after work, putting on a show or movie and just pounding out some miles to it!

In other words, I think the dreadmill...the runner's torture chamber...has actually become my secret weapon.  Ascent training is hard.  I love running hills, but running hills at a fast-for-that-grade pace for an extended period of time is difficult -- and I'd argue more so on the treadmill because I never get a downhill reprieve or even just a gentler grade for a minute or two.  But the treadmill -- with my music and my movies and even the company of my clingy beagle lounging next to the machine -- is actually making Ascent training fun.  I'm working really hard, but half the time don't even notice I am because I'm enjoying what I'm listening to and what I'm watching.  As I said, some days I even get EXCITED to do a really tough hill interval workout because, oh!  I have a great new song I can't wait to listen to.  If anything, sometimes I find myself doubting the quality of my training just because I don't notice half the time how hard my body is really working while my brain is occupied elsewhere.

But of course I'm a long-time OUTDOOR runner, and there's that part of me that feels like it's not real running if you're inside!  And a recent run at Catamount while my family was here reminded me how much I love running in beautiful places, which we are blessed with an abundance of here in Colorado.  Sooner or later, the call of the wild will be too great and my treadmill will start collecting dust again.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy the company of this strange new companion, the ProForm.

My training buddy

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