The treadmill: a modern torture device?

Last year I travelled around Europe and while in Amsterdam, I went to a torture museum. I noticed the exhibit was missing a treadmill.
I love running, not only because it’s my ‘me’ time and time to relax, but it’s when I get to explore the city and the trails. When I go running, I transition to ’kid mode’: I anxiously frolic down the path and am always super excited to turn the next corner to discover what lies ahead.

I am not a big fan of treadmills. Running in place inside a sweaty gym surrounded by walkers and other sweaty, hairy runners is my idea of a modern torture scenario (in my mind we are all hairy, especially when running on the treadmill). The treadmill reminds me too much of hamster wheels. I imagine the Big Guy looking down on us as we run at the gym and he bursts out laughing at the thin line between man and hamster. See best treadmill for home

green wheel

Besides I always figured that if you can run, why not run outside and enjoy nature (yes, even in bad weather)!? Skip, hop, jump in puddles and relish in the smells of dew and dirt. Rain or shine, it’s always good being outside.

I know that I say treadmills are a form of torture, but I only say this with about 50% sarcasm. I actually have not run on the treadmill for mainly two reasons:

1) I LOVE running outside, and

2) I don’t have the attention span to run in place for miles and miles.
In February, I went running on the treadmill for the first time in over a decade. I don’t know if this will make complete sense to anybody other than myself but I consciously decided to begin running on the treadmill to be better than the machine. I pride myself on working really hard to get in shape and have a toned body. I love going to the gym and being able to use any machine (after all, not all gym goers can do this) – that is, every machine except the treadmill. At some point in the last ten years, my aversion to the treadmill became irrational and a chill would go down my spine if I was too near them.

So, I decided to suck it up and finally conquer the treadmill. If I can run 15+ miles consistently and wonder where the time went because running that distance is so much fun, I could certainly tough it out for a couple of miles on the treadmill.

That first four mile run on the treadmill was anything but fun. I have seemingly limitless energy and am also very easily distracted/bored. I am at my best when I do repeats of lifting weights or stretching at the gym as I’m always concentrating on how many reps I’ve done and/or how many sets I have to go. That first run on the treadmill made me feel like I needed some sort of tranquilizer because I was so fidgety. It was more mentally exhausting trying to keep myself motivated than anything else.

Ever since that first run, I have made peace with the treadmill. Although I do still get extremely bored and antsy on the treadmill….I have been known to drop my iPhone on more than one occasion while running at the gym because I try to find the perfect song mid-run as there’s nothing else to do! The treadmill then whips my phone a couple of feet behind me…luckily I have an extremely durable case.

My solution to my treadmill antsiness: do a hard tempo run – really get my sweat on. Doing hard tempo runs on the treadmill takes some of my attention away from the fact that I have to motivate myself to even be on the treadmill in the first place. I become more concerned with if I’m running hard enough, how much time I have left to go, and staggering my gulps of water so I have enough to get through that last mile.

I have actually reached the point of enjoying my tempo runs on the treadmills. I enjoy being able to make sure I’m running as hard as I need to and do so consistently without too much effort. The automatic pace setting on the treadmill gives me one less thing to worry about.

If sweat drips into my eyeballs when running on the treadmill, I’m having a pretty good time!

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