52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 4: The treadmill. My most hated of all mills

I have no qualms about running in a freezer, but running in a giant Slushee is another story. The weekend’s snowstorm, while nothing to write home about, was enough to make me want to put my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs plan on ice. (The lack of available events at the right distance didn’t help.)

The beach covered in snow.

This après-snowstorm shot of the beach at the end of my street has little to do with running. But for this Aussie, seeing the sand covered in white is a wonderful thing.

But this is my challenge and I can set my own rules (such a rarity). Savvy readers will recall my original 52 Weeks, 52 Runs post, in which I outlined “The exceptions to the rules that I’ll make up as I go along.” In this vein, I give you:

3. If no runs exist, I take to the treadmill, or do one of the virtual runs that abound on Twitter. I will donate the equivalent of an entry fee to charity.

Hence this weekend, I invoked made-up rule No. 3 and took to the treadmill …

Give me a pepper mill any day

Like many gym-goers, my relationship to the treadmill is shaky. While I can appreciate the machine’s eagerness to submit to my every will, it sorely lacks in the charisma department. For me, crushing boredom usually sets in at about minute three. By minute five, I’m ready to commit to a life plan of couch dwelling and Die Hard re-watching.

It wasn’t until I started running road races recently that I realized how much I truly dislike engaging with this cardio troublemaker. There’s no atmosphere, no silly costumes, no human dodgem, and no matter how much you sweat, there’s no beer at the finish. And you have to make your own T-shirt.

The treadmill even makes me miss surprise hills of doom. Now that is an accomplishment.

A false start

But I was determined to get in my weekend 3.1, so I agreed to suppress my inner rage and run the Quincy YMCA Treadmill Torture 5K (funnily enough, I was the only registrant. All proceeds – $25 – were donated to the Smile Train, a charity Hubby and I have long supported).

YMCA treadmills

Torture devices at the YMCA.

I guess the damn machine must have sensed my hostility, though. After 4.45 minutes at an 11-minute pace, I pressed stop in disgust. I was bored, had zero energy and my lungs were exhibiting new levels of hostility.

This is what I hate so much about the treadmill. Had I been outside on a “proper” run, I never would have given up that easily. The internet would have noticed.

Take two

I adjusted my pace to something less ragey (a 12-minute mile), but I clearly needed something to focus on. Cue the awesome power of the Lifetime channel. Who needs beat-appropriate music when you have terrible made-for-TV movies? (This one was called “Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story” if anyone wants to add it to their running playlist.)

I have run to treadmill TV before, but usually with my music. This time, overwrought drama in audio and visual form somehow pulled me through. I still struggled at the start, and I kept sneaking peeks at how long I had left (which just made the torture last longer) but I conquered the 5K. It was the longest I had ever run on a dreadmill.

Snow, please stay away so I never have to do it again.

The event: The Treadmill Torture 5K (participants: one)
The location: Quincy, MA
The date: January 22, 2012
My time: 37:30 (not including the false start)
Hubby’s time:
No “official” time, but he did what I refused to do the day before and ran in the storm. Half-marathon distance. Kudos.
The cause:
Smile Train
The T-shirt:
The aftermath: Macaroni & cheese and a toasted sandwich at Panera Bread


26 responses to “52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 4: The treadmill. My most hated of all mills

  1. Saving My Belly Button Ring

    Awesome read!

  2. I used to go to that Y too! It was a bit too far for me though; hence, I never went. Sorry your run wasn’t all you had hoped it would be — the joys of dreadmill running!

    • The Y is a bit too far for me too, even though I live in the same suburb! I don’t drive (yet), and I can always talk myself out of walking up to the subway. So if I don’t get a ride, I tend not to go. Bad form. The treadmill and I need some counseling.

  3. “Sorely lacking in charisma” — so true! 5k is my absolute limit on a treadmill, no doubt about it. Running seems like sooo much more work indoors.

    • It certainly does! The thing that really bugged me is that the treadmill 5K seemed to go on FOREVER! At least when you’re outdoors and among other runners there are plenty of distractions, like demon hills. 🙂

  4. I also loathe the treadmill, but when it’s -30 in Calgary (before the windchill), it’s really my only option.

    • I feel your pain!! My husband’s brother lives in Calgary and we often check out the temperature there. I wasn’t a runner when we lived in Toronto, but I still remember how cold it got. There aren’t enough tights in the world …

  5. Hah, I agree with you about the treadmill. It’s miserable. Plus my gym always plays a bunch of really odd shows, like cartoons on Saturday morning. Last time I checked there weren’t any five year olds suffering on the dreadmill….

    • Haha, true that. It wasn’t until that movie started that I really found my groove (such as it was). I spent the first five minutes flicking channels and getting increasingly hot and bothered by the lack of options. Like I needed another reason to be hot and bothered, besides the running itself! 🙂

  6. I hear ya, S&J! The treadmill beast makes running seem like a chore rather than a choice. Congrats on not letting the ominous specter of the treadmill keep you from your 52 in 52 resolve!

  7. Great post! I applaud your getting on the treadmill, or as another blogger called it, the “dreadmill” to get in your run. Don’t think I would have it in me!

  8. OMG. I too, HATE treadmills. I share a very similar sentiment – getting bored after 3 minutes, feeling like a slower pace is actually harder. I had to do a couple runs on the hamster wheel over Christmas. It was not my favorite. Have you tried an audiobook? I didn’t think I’d like them, but sometimes a change from music is nice.

    • An audiobook is a good idea. I have sometimes wondered how well they’d go, but dismissed them for lack of a beat. But I figure if I can run to a movie, then I can definitely run to a book. Hubby is addicted to them, so we have quite a few at home I could choose from. Thanks for the idea!

  9. 30 minutes on a treadmill is my absolute max. One minute longer and I want to bang my head into a wall. I agree, it’s too easy to give up. When you are outside you have to keep moving, there is no choice. Good for you for keeping your commitment!!

  10. I definitely feel and think that jogging outdoors is so much harder than the treadmill, and so much more satisfying… and a bit on the scary side for me. I just know I won’t hold on as long as I can in the a/c of the gym. However, for my set up the treadmill is very convenient. The gym is next door. I just go downstairs at lunch time, walk a minute and I’m there. And I don’t have to worry about coming back late for work! I usually take a book with me. Nowadays is one of the few times during the day when I can read. But I won’t complain. I’m jogging and I’m reading. What else can I ask for? 🙂 Congratulations on keeping up with your weekly milestones!


    • The set-up you have sounds great. And I think if you can make it work for you, then that’s all that matters. I do wish I liked the treadmill more as it may inspire me to get my butt to the gym! I’m becoming so bad at that. 🙂

  11. The mills in “The Jungle” are definitely not as bad as treadmills. Those Industrial Revolution-era sweatshop workers cannot possibly fathom our pain.

  12. I sort of like the treadmill and the fact that I get to control all the variables about my run. But my gym is set up so the treadmills have a view, which helps. And I’m sort of a wimp when it comes to running outside. Haha.

    • Yes, a view is good. My gym in Abu Dhabi was on the top floor of a tall building right on the Corniche. Awesome views during the day! (At night you wound up looking at yourself.)

      You’re not a wimp! As long as the run is within a 5-mile radius, you rock! 🙂

  13. Pingback: 52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 5: This really blows | Stride and Joy

  14. Pingback: 52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 6: Riding in buses with runners | Stride and Joy