Tyranny of the Treadmill

The Long Jog to Comrades 4 Comments

The other evening I did a treadmill run.  I don’t like the treadmill.  I want to be out there being nosey, because that’s what makes running fun.  But I couldn’t, because of the weather.  Now, I’m a good English girl, so a sprinkle of rain is only going to add to the joy of a run.  No, it’s the heat that I struggle with.  And yes, I know, I know.  I’ve been here over a year, and I’ve been exposed to the crazy Australian seasons, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  But I was lulled into a false sense of security by a cold snap and I let down my Aussie-weather guard.  Then bam, I got caught.

I’ll be honest with you.  I’m not a morning person.  And I don’t know whether it was daylight saving just kicking in, time of the month, a full moon, or what, but I was not waking up.  And that date with some intervals I had planned could go get stuffed.  I wanted to enjoy a bit more cosy with Mr Douvet.  Intervals could wait till after work.

Except after work saw me pulling out of the car park to read 32 degrees on the dashboard.  At 5.30pm.  And the way the weather works in our little corner of Australia, the temperatures don’t drop as the day progresses. So whilst I am many things, I am not entirely insane.  (Although, on second thoughts, we might need to debate that some more)!  But this particular night, I really didn’t fancy sprinting along the Foreshore in that kind of heat.

Now, I had it in my head that I really needed to get my run in. Maybe I was trying to impress my coach, Zoey, over at Operation Move, or could see the others in my training group had managed to work their runs into their much more hectic schedules, so had a bit of a guilt trip going on. I’m not entirely sure.  But I was going to do this run and the only thing for it was to run indoors on the dreadmill. Urgh.

The planned session was such a nice one – not at all intimidating, so how bad could it be?  800m of running with 400m of recovery, 3 times.  Zoey has made me do far worse in the past.  And I reminded myself, the bonus of the treadmill is that you’re always in control.  It gives you encouraging feedback: 50m completed. And your mind tells you that’s not so bad: you’re coping pretty well with this speed.  Cool. Oh look. Another 100m completed.  Starting to feel it a bit now, but yeah, still feeling good. But as your lungs protest and legs demur, the tyranny of the treadie takes over.  Still 400m left, it taunts: my rolling road ain’t slowing – let’s see what you’ve got.  And you see the numbers on the screen, and you’re determined not to let it get the better of you.  But puff, puff, oh bugger, look: still another 200m to go.  And your mind starts to shout that it’s not possible.  There’s no way this body of yours can hold on at this speed for THAT MUCH LONGER.

And that’s what makes treadmill running so damn hard.  The treachery of being in control.  It’s just you and it, doing what you came there to do.  Or not, because you can just press stop and the whole thing shuts down, then hop off and drive home.  Treadmill running is all about the mind games and that just freaks me out.  No thanks.  Give me the element of surprise, a corner to turn or a different loop to take, the fun of making it up as I go along.  At least the fact that I’m nowhere near home when my head is clamouring to stop means I either run or walk to get back, the only difference is the time it will take me.  Give me the open road any time.  Just remind me to get my arse out of bed, will you?

What about you?  Treadmill junkie, or wild about the great outdoors?

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