Feb 11, 2010

Sometimes you just have to stop hating

Actually, I suppose you should never start hating in the first place. And there are few things in this world that I can say I truly hate. Fortunately, most of them are inanimate objects (olives, mushrooms, bleu cheese), or concepts (e.g. racism). But there is one object that I just don't have anything good to say about, at all.

The treadmill.

And I'm sure I'm not alone. As many runners will tell you, once you get outdoors and start throwing down the miles, you just don't want to spend time on a spinning belt anymore. You don't go anywhere, you don't see anything, you don't get the satisfaction of running into that headwind at the start of your run, knowing how much you'll enjoy heading downwind on the way back. There's any number of things that simply trump the convenience of a treadmill. And if you're like me, and you don't have your own treadmill, it's not even that convenient. You have to get in your car, go to the gym, hope the gym isn't packed so you can hog a 'mill for 2 hours, run, then drive home. Walking out the front door and taking off immediately is far more convenient. Additionally, for me anyway, I tend to blister and/or callous the balls of my feet (specifically the ball of my big toe) and it can be rather painful. I swear the heat that eminates from the belt literally softens the skin of my feet, as if cooking them. As for the TVs' they have on the machines, to entertain you as you workout...if you run, you can't watch it. It makes you nauseous.

So I've been a firm opponent of running on the 'mill. If there is any way for me to run outside, any way at all, I will. That being said, the weather has been less than cooperative the past few days in a lot of areas around the country. Here, it isn't so much the temperatures, and it isn't even so much the amount of snow. But we've had freezing rain, high winds that have caused drifting snow and poor visibility (for drivers). This past Saturday I managed to get out, after being forced to run indoors on Friday (more on that in a bit), and the roads were very wet & slushy. That's miserable too. Thankfully, it was only for 5 miles. Then we got blasted again on Sunday, and back indoors I go.

On that Friday, I was scheduled to run 12 miles. I knew running them outside was going to be impossible. So I went to the gym...slowly, and vowed to make an honest effort at completing the run on the damn 'mill. Normally, I get on the 'mill, run for about 3 miles, and want to jab a steak knife in my eye. I become a mental midget, unable to focus on running, instead focusing on how excruciatingly bored I am. This day, I was hellbent on going the full 12. Since the 'mill only allows me an hour at a time, I was forced to think of it as two 6-milers. That helped some. So I started running, and to my surprise I was at 3 miles before I knew it. Then 6. Stop the 'mill, restart it immediately, and prepare for 6 more. That's when....wait, what?!? That's when I proceeded to run the final 6 and actually ENJOYED it?!? How did that happen? Nonetheless, I did, and I was thrilled. I should have been thankful. Instead, I mentally gave the 'mill the finger, and stalked off, the conqueror. Rich 1, Treadmill 0.

Sunday I was driven back by the weather. This time I was there to run 18. I made it to 10 before the previously mentioned treadmill cook setting did a number on my feet. They were burning up. The soles of my shoes were on fire. The 'mill got its revenge. All tied up.

Monday, I return again, but only to run an easy 5. While I got through it w/o issue, and easily enough, it really wasn't a long enough, or tough enough run to claim victory, so we'll call it a push. Still all tied up.

Tuesday, 8 miles at general aerobic pace. I crushed it. Felt great. A clear win. The 'mill did officially give me a blister though. I think of that as a bad, late tackle, from behind, boot up, in a match that is already decided. The 'mill got a red card on that one. I'm up 2-1.

Yesterday, 12 miles scheduled again. I prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. I get some moleskin to protect the balls of my feet. And to my astonishment, another good run. A little GI issues from the dinner I ate beforehand, but not a big deal. That was my fault. I finish my run, and while my stomach isn't tip-top, I'm very pleased that I have managed to complete my run, on the 'mill, again. I take the win, and lead 3-1. But I also realized something else. The 'mill and I have come to have an understanding, and I can even say, it has rejuvenated my motivation.

The past few days, I've logged more miles on the 'mill than I did in all of '08 & '09 combined. And I've found that I kinda enjoyed it. One of the reasons...I'm enjoying running in shorts and short sleeved shirts. It's nice to break them out after a few months. Sounds silly, I'm sure, but for some reason, I think it's helped me. And now, I'm definitely ready to start logging my miles outdoors again, and looking forward to getting out there.

The other nice thing...I think I've conquered my HATRED for the 'mill. Oh, we're still not friends, per se, but we're no longer enemies either. The 'mill respects my desire to run outdoors, and I have come to respect the 'mill's ability to keep me on track w/o boring me to death anymore. Weird. Never thought I'd say that.

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