If you’ve talked about running with me for more than six seconds, you likely know how I feel about the treadmill. Basically, fuck that noise. It’s boring and annoying and harder than outside and you have to actually go somewhere (yet never actually go anywhere) and yeah. It just sucks. It’s no fun and it takes away almost everything I love about running.
BUT! I’m not setting out to write another anti-dreadmill thing. There are tons of them out there already, I don’t think the world needs me to add another one to the mix. Instead, I want to take a few minutes and talk about how I’ve actually found a love for the treadmill.
Last winter, I ran outside everyday through the worst winter I can remember in New Jersey. This winter wasn’t nearly as bad, but I just didn’t have it in me to fight the ice and snow on the ground–which seems to be worse in Jersey City than it ever was in Somerset. Plus, I wanted to be able to run after work without worrying about my safety. So when my wife saw a Groupon for a 30-day membership to New York Sports Clubs, I decided to jump on it. I wanted to get myself in gear for marathon training and I knew I wasn’t going to pull that off without sucking it up and treadmilling it some.
It’s been three weeks running on the treadmill 3-4 times a week with my weekend runs outside and it’s been surprisingly great. Though, I was really dreading it at first. It’s not like I don’t have tons of experience treadmill running–much of my early days running were spent on the ‘mill–so why would this be any different? I figured I’d just have to suck it up and suffer through it.
I haven’t been suffering though. Sure, the first mile or two have sucked on every run, but that’s not much different from outside for me. By mile three, I’m in the zone. I’m in my running happy place, completely lost in the joy of it all. While I don’t listen to music when I run outside, I did take the time to make a pretty awesome playlist for the treadmill, but by the midpoint of my run, I’m not even paying attention to it anymore.
I don’t know what exactly has changed, maybe it’s just because I know it’s temporary, but my attitude has been totally different about it over the last couple of weeks. I get out of bed rather easily at 5:45am (typically, this is a huge struggle for me) to head to the treadmill with no dread. Maybe it’s because I’ve given each run a specific purpose rather than just running at the same old pace for every run like I used to. Now, treadmill runs are more than just some number of miles. Some runs are recovery runs, some are intervals, some are tempo or progression. Each run has its job.
This morning marked the second Monday in a row that I’ve actually done a real recovery run. I have a bad habit of running these things way too fast and if either of these runs were outside, they would have been the same. My legs wanted to go hard and fast and, if I was outside, I would have let them go…or they would have gone without me even realizing. On the treadmill, I’ve been able to lock it down and keep that pace right where it needed to be.
It’s also helped that I’ve finally accepted the treadmill feels harder than outside. My pace will be slower on the treadmill and that’s TOTALLY OKAY! I used to worry about this. I used to worry about other people looking over at me and thinking I was slow (I KNOW…I know). I don’t care anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to get over what strangers think of me anyway over the last couple years and that’s carried over? Who knows. Besides, they don’t know what my plan is. They don’t know how I race or what that run is supposed to be. And it doesn’t matter. I’m not there to compare to them. I’m there for me.
Also, they probably aren’t even paying attention to me.
In a weird way, I’m actually kind of sad my membership for the gym is ending next week. I’ve been enjoying it. If winter wasn’t on its way out, I’d likely keep it.
I don’t think I’ll go so far as to say I love the treadmill now, but I certainly don’t hate it anymore. It’s earned a place in my life.