Using My Inside Legs: Surrendering to the Siren’s Song of the Treadmill

608-06158491I have to admit it, Modern Philosophers, I am weak.  I hang my head and must declare myself unworthy of my running toga.  All because I couldn’t stay strong strong.  Because I couldn’t resist.

I finally gave in to the call of the treadmill…

As I recently posted, I had sworn off running on a treadmill because I realized it was slowly driving me insane.  I was pushing myself too hard, obsessing over numbers, not at all enjoying myself, and worst of all…making myself a slave to The Machines.

I have been running outside and loving it.  I change up my route whenever I want to see something new (rather than staring at the sweaty back of the person on the treadmill in front of me…yuck!).  The are no annoying red numbers glowing up at me and screaming for me to go faster or burn more calories.  I am relaxed, I am at peace, I am free from the influence of the Masters of the Robot Apocalypse.

As happens every Winter, however, I’ve started to get lazy.  I’ve been snacking more and running less…much less.  Blaming the bitterly cold temperatures has been the perfect excuse for not running (it really has been the weather at times, but more often it has been laziness or my hatred of running rearing its ugly head).  This has been incredibly stupid of me because I worked so hard to lose 50 lbs and was probably on my way to a new career as a male model (gotta throw some jokes in here, right?).  To be honest, I’m extremely mad at myself and disappointed that I did not maintain my running regimen.

TreadmillThe Girl Who Can Always Motivate Me has been urging me to drop the treadmill ban and go back to the gym.  I usually cannot resist her, but I’ve been able to hold my ground on this matter.  Somehow, I made running on a treadmill a line in the sand that I refused to cross.  Have I ever bothered to mention that I can be incredibly stubborn at time?

I ran outside three times last week and the temperature at the time of those runs was: 7, 11, and 26 degrees.  For that last run, I was tempted to put on shorts because it just seemed like a Spring day compared to earlier in the week.  Then my big brain got to churning out the Deep Thoughts, and I realized that the combined temperatures of those three days would still be about 30 degrees colder than the comfort controlled confines of my gym.

They’d also recently renovated my gym, more than doubling its size and adding all new machines.  I was able to convince myself that these new machines might not be evil, mind controlling, generators of stress.  I also reminded myself that running outside in the Winter means getting up at 5:15, hitting the road when it’s still pitch black, and dealing with temperatures that are always going to be below freezing if not in the single digits.

I told the warning voices in my head to go for a run, packed my gym bag, and made the executive decision to hit the gym after work.  It did look glorious.  Everything was brand new.  It was bright.  And warm.  There was neither ice, nor snow for as far as my eyes could see.  I could do this.  I had made the right choice.  The Robot Apocalypse was not going to begin on this night in the Bangor Planet Fitness.

numbersOf course, I was wrong.  I had barely broken a sweat when I felt the Machines grab hold of my mind.  The numbers began to float through my mind.  I covered the display with my towel, and pretended I was running outside, but it didn’t work.  My brain became obsessed with doing calculations.  I was fixated on burning 600 calories.  Every thirty seconds, I’d push aside the towel and look at the numbers.  I’d urge the machine faster, determined to burn twenty calories a minute.

Sweat poured off me.  I was afraid to use my towel to wipe my face, though, because that would give me a clear view of all the numbers.  I would see that they weren’t approaching 600 quickly enough, and I’d nudge the speed button even higher.

I burned my 600 calories, but I did not enjoy myself.  I didn’t feel the satisfaction that floods me when I finish an outdoor run.  Rather, it felt as if I’d just checked off a chore on my to do list.

Robot 2The Machines had won.  They had me under their control again.  I was just another mindless drone generating sweat.  I was helping to fuel the Robot Apocalypse.

That’s when it hit me…exercise is work.  It’s supposed to suck at times.  There’s supposed to be pain.  I need to push myself when I don’t want to be pushed.  That’s what running is about.  If it were fun, more people would do it, and the world would be a skinnier, healthier place.

Runners are warriors.  We can’t always run outside, but rather than quit, we hop on a treadmill and keep up the fight.  The Machines don’t control us…we control them.  Runners tell The Machines to go faster.  Runners decide how long to run and at what incline.  When The Machine says it’s time to cool down, runners ignore the message and tell The Machine to crank it up again.  Runners tap in the orders and The Machines obey.

So I’m not going to feel bad about choosing warmth over frostbite.  I’m not going to berate myself for using a Machine rather than hitting the open road.  Yeah, I need to do something about my obsession with numbers, but you can’t expect me to solve every problem with a single epiphany.

When the weather allows for it, I will run outside where I’m truly in a happy place.  In the meantime, however, I’m going to stop beating up myself for choosing to run on a treadmill.  Instead, I’m going to pat myself and my fellow runners on the back for continuing to burn those calories when it would be so much easier to just stay at home and burn another log on the fire.

Forget the opening of this article.  I’m not weak.  I am worthy of my running toga.  I am a runner, and that makes me a bad ass.

Great job, runners.  Keep up the good work, and let’s show The Machines who’s boss!




About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Using My Inside Legs: Surrendering to the Siren’s Song of the Treadmill

  1. mudlips says:

    Hey, that’s the ticket; don’t rue the treadmill time as long as you reward yourself with an enjoyable outdoor run when it’s appropriate. And instead if focusing on numbers shift to obsessing about technique. That IS the best purpose a treadmill can offer. And then this summer you’ll be fit and hale for some trail running…the only reason to run if you ask me…wait you didn’t ask anything today but you got my opinion anyway. 😉 At least you aren’t running in circles.

  2. Ashana M says:

    It is, after all, February. You’re forgiven.

  3. How do you find time to work, run, write two blog posts a day, daydream about The Girl . . .? Does Gary the Gargoyle keep house for you?
    I play a little game with the numbers, which are green on our machines. I wrote it out but it took up too much space. I didn’t want to delete the line about Jedi mind tricks. 🙂

  4. Way to beat the machines! I am actually jealous of your treadmill use. I prefer running outdoors as well, but right now I’d be satisfied running anywhere. Currently, I’m grounded (AGAIN) until my knees get better (stupid knees). If you need a distraction from the numbers, I suggest trying audiobooks. They can be riveting.

  5. Fortunately the machines have not yet taken control of the weather. Eventually it will once again warm up, enabling you to take back the roads and leave the machines to themselves. Don’t despair, just hang in there. 😉

  6. From a Canadian: Cross country ski, snow shoe… If you must stay inside is there a pool? or cross train.. bike, rowing machine, stair master… and tape that towel over the screen.

    • jaklumen says:

      ^This. Water exercise can well be part of a cross-training regimen. Of course, I’m biased. Through friends and family, I know The Way Of The [Stubborn] Runner, but don’t claim to understand it. My grandfather is a runner, and was quite hardcore back in the day. He’d get injured and run anyways, despite his doctor’s protests. I’d secretly read his Runner’s World mag and suggest cross-training, including pool time. He’d brush it all away with some odd excuses.

      Whatever. I inherited his and my mother’s (i.e. his daughter, this is mom’s side) back problems. Did surgery. The pool and the water in it has been my good buddy for at least 3 years now.

    • I have to just learn to ignore the screen. Maybe I’ll blindfold myself. Then again, I’m a total klutz and that could end in disaster… 🙂

  7. tishjake says:

    I am feeling your pain. Short days in Oregon are causing me to use the treadmill also. My fear of the dark supersedes my loathing of the treadmill.

  8. jaklumen says:

    Bonus reply. You know by now, I don’t live in Maine, but the weather here had me begging and pleading. Wanted to go to the pool… so far away, though. Decided to content myself with some errands and good walking– with family and my other good buddy, Mr. Kidherder Walking Stick. Helped me not fall down and as always, helps me herd my wandering kids.

  9. Pingback: Using My Inside Legs: Surrendering to the Siren’s Song of the Treadmill « theschools

  10. Mike says:

    Nicely put together. The power of perspective eh?

  11. filbio says:

    Love this post! I am so feeling what you are saying here!
    I just recently posted on my blog about my hatred of running. Yet, I know the machines will make me do it. That, or my ever expanding waist line will make me do it!


  12. samantha045 says:

    Not the treadmill! Ah! Though I dislike running in the cold, I despise running on a treadmill. Not only am I not going anywhere, but I feel like I don’t get as good of a workout from it. Plus I can never seem to run for as long on a treadmill as I can outside. :/

    Also, I agree with you on the red numbers thing… they’re angry and evil and I don’t like them.

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