Readers, I am quickly learning why so many people call the treadmill the “dreadmill.”
On the one hand, having access to a treadmill makes me so happy because it means I can run on days when I don’t have access to an indoor track, without having to risk slipping on icy, uncleared sidewalks. Because no one in this god-forsaken city cares enough about their fellow citizens to shovel/salt a sidewalk and it drives me CRAZY. (I really wish we could borrow this idea from a nearby city and publicly shame – and fine – people who don’t clear their sidewalks!) But I’ve complained about that here before, so I’ll move on.
Where was I? Oh right. On the other hand, the treadmill kind of sucks. Feeling like a hamster on a wheel is something I don’t really mind in the grand scheme of things, even though I’d much prefer to have changing scenery. No, what drives me crazy about treadmills is that I can’t seem to run on them without being a total spaz. Let me set the scene for you. The last time I was at the gym I thought I’d give the ol’ ‘mill a go, and this is how it went down:
- I hop on the ‘mill and spend way more time than necessary studying the intricate screen in front of me, trying to figure out how to use the thing. Someone hops on the machine next to me and starts up with no hesitation. I feel a little dumb.
- I start the belt up slowly, building the speed to a point where I’m walking semi-fast, just to get a feel for it.
- As I’m getting said feel, I play around with the TV controls and channel surf a bit until I realize there’s nothing on and opt to watch an NBA game involving two teams I couldn’t care less about.
- I slowly build up speed until I’m running at a pace of 11:36. All my faffing about with the TV was in vain, because the screen is permanently tilted to an angle that suits tall people, i.e. not me, so the screen is covered in a huge glare from the lights.
- 11:36 is making me run a little funny, because my legs want to go faster, so I up the speed to 11:19 (pre-set pace settings). This is a touch too fast, but running comically fast feels less embarrassing than running comically slow, so I go with it.
- Even if I could see the TV without the glare, watching it would make me a bit seasick since the screen is bobbing up and down way too much as I run. This bobbing seems wrong, so I stare at my reflection in the window and try to fix my stride so that I’m not bouncing so much.
- The window leads to the pool, so after a few seconds of watching my reflection, I start watching people swimming. After a few seconds of that, I realize I look like a total creeper, so I look back at the TV, only to get seasick and start the whole cycle again. This cycle lasts for the entire time I’m on the treadmill.
- Because I’m looking at a bunch of different things, I keep veering off in random directions on the belt as I run, which is a problem because there’s not a lot of room for me to veer. I try to correct this by looking straight ahead, which offers me a vista of nothing. Commence the seasick/creeper cycle again.
- I have a narrow stride to begin with (like I think I’m running on a very narrow track or even a tightrope, all the time), but being on a treadmill makes this worse. My knees are clattering into each other with each step, and my feet are flying around like crazy behind me. I feel very conscious of the fact that I must look ridiculous, so I focus on widening my stride and then feel like I’m running as if I poo’d myself. Alternate between the two until I finally give up and step off the machine with jelly legs.
So, basically… I don’t know how to run on a treadmill without being completely ridiculous. I’m looking every-which-way all at once, bobbing up and down like crazy, veering all over the belt, and either smashing my knees together or waddling… all while beet-red and dripping sweat despite having the treadmill fan set to high and aimed right at my face. I must look like a winner! That said, my being completely self-conscious doesn’t help, either. Neither does the fact that I forgot to bring my iPod so on top of everything else I got to hear my knees clattering, thighs rubbing, and breath wheezing. It was altogether unpleasant.
But, unpleasant or no, if I want to keep my fitness up during the winter, the treadmill seems like one of the best ways. I just need to remember to bring music and somehow learn how to stop being such a spaz. That’s doable, right?!
How do you fare on the treadmill? Are you all over the place like me, or are you able to find a groove? (If so, can you tell me how??)
How do you keep yourself occupied while running on the ‘mill? Music, TV, reading, people watching?
If you don’t use the treadmill, how do you keep your fitness up during the winter?
I’m jealous of you runners who live in snow-less climates!