Hating on the treadmill.
I did 31 minutes on the treadmill today and hated just about every one of them.
The machine – a decade-plus-old thing that Jenn and I bought when we were still in Florida – recorded my distance as 3.3 miles, but I don’t trust its calibration given the pace I ran and the way I felt during and afterward.
I would much rather have been outside, but until I get some better cold-weather gear, 20 degrees Fahrenheit is about as low a temperature as I can handle.
We’ve had this treadmill for years, although there was a long stretch where it was down at my mom’s, since it had fallen out of use in our house. I brought it back to use as a last resort during last year’s marathon preparation, but I’m happy to say I didn’t put a single mile on it during training. (Let’s see … the last time I used it was March 20, 2009: Coincidentally, my last official day as a full-time-employed journalist, although I’d received my notice two days earlier. So there’s one more guilt-by-association strike against the treadmill.)
I could have gone to the YMCA track, I suppose, but I didn’t want to do a long run, and even if all I do is drive to the Y, run and come home, I’ve added a half-hour to the workout, and today was kind of short already, since there was a get-together down at mom’s this afternoon.
So, treadmill, We Meet Again.
I thought about watching a DVD or listening to some music while running, but I kind of just wanted to BE running, and the longer I stalled by choosing tunes or movies or TV, the tougher it was going to be to just get going, so in the end, I just left the treadmill in its spot facing the windows that look out into our backyard.
Things I Hate About The Treadmill:
Not going anywhere.
When I’m running, my changing surroundings play a big role in getting my mind into that indescribable place I call The Zone. Even when most of my paths are exceedingly familiar and I could probably run them with my eyes shut, I am moving through the world, a changing my viewpoint ever so slightly with every step. For some reason, running for distance is much more important to me than running for time, and the treadmill’s fake mileage: yes, I know I’ve taken the equivalent of 3 miles’ worth of steps, for instance, but I haven’t run three miles, because dammit, I haven’t gone anywhere.
Having to focus on the act of running.
I know real runners might find this blasphemous, but most of the time, I don’t like to think very much on the act itself. As I said, it’s more about the mental state I try to reach.
Specifically, I hate being on the treadmill and having to think almost constantly about monitoring my drift so I don’t take a step too far to either side of the narrow conveyor belt passing beneath my shoes. There’s no swinging back and forth a little to stretch new muscles a bit, and I think I feel much more repetitive stress from keeping my footsteps square and uniform.
And though I can vary the machine’s speed, the effect is not the same as climbing a tough hill or coasting down the other side.
There is no wind. Even when it makes my jogging difficult, it still gives me something to look forward to on the stretches when it’s at my back.
The sounds: There is a comfort in the rhythm and sound of tennis shoes on pavement. The treadmill whirs and whines and and creaks and rattles.
The numbers: Even when I was training and ran with a stopwatch, the running was never about constantly checking my times against where I was. But on the treadmill, the numbers – both the time passed and the distance run are always inmy line of sight, and though they change constantly, they also seem to do so terribly slowly.
But you know what? I ran today, and some days, that’s enough.