Since I kinda trashed talked the treadmill yesterday, and I had such a good run this morning (4 miles -- yeah!), I feel as though I owe some bit of homage to the treadmill, and so I present to you: Five things I love about the treadmill.
1. The fact that it is inside. You just can't beat air conditioning. Especially in a place like South Florida where the sun shines everyday and the humidity radiates throughout the land. Florida, for those who have never been, is constructed entirely on top of swampland. Don't be fooled by ads of sunny beaches and palm trees (we have those too); the majority of the population lives on man-made land -- underneath us lies what's left of the diminishing Everglades. But what hasn't been lost is that good ol' swampy feel. And until mid October, early November, everyday is a hot one. So to be able to run indoors in the comfort of a temperature controlled atmosphere, that's bliss.
2. Treadmills are clean. At the gym, they have a woman (seemingly the same one all the time) whose whole job appears to be to maintaining the workout equipment. She dusts everything with a big feather duster, but she also wipes everything down with a towel and a sterilizing substance (I don't know what, but it will probably be what gives me cancer later in life). This gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I know that she has cleaned away the previous user's sweat and that if I grip the treadmill's handles or push its buttons, my hands and fingers won't be smeared with someone else's juices. Logically, I know sweat actually doesn't carry that much germage and you can't catch anything from sweat (just like pee, that's why those toilet seat covers are just a waste of paper); however, it makes me feel good to know that things are clean.
Unlike the treadmill I used to own at home. Yes, once upon a time, I owned a treadmill. But I lost it in a break-up posession division. He got the treadmill, the kitchen table and the bed; I got the towels, some sheets, and a whole pile of guilt. Anyway, that treadmill was never clean. It attracted dust like a cupcake calls to a fat kid. It was always covered in soot, and as the years wore on, sweat mingled with the soot, and the grime began to take on a life of its own. There were times when I feared that if lightening ever struck that machine it might actually come to life.
3. The treadmill challenges me. There are days when I just want to trot along and get thirty minutes worth of cardio out of the way. Those days are not much of a challenge, but I think they are necessary for all of us -- we can't have good workout days everyday; plus, it's the bad ones that help us appreciate the good ones. However, there are days when I do feel up to a challenge, and one those days, I can use the treadmill however I wish; it is subservient to my commands. If I want to add hills, I can. If I want to go faster, I can. If I want to cross train by mixing up both hills and speed, I can. This is nice because it lets me tailor each workout to how I feel that day and what I need to achieve in that workout. This way I get many machines in one.
4. It helps me learn to pace myself and helps to improve my stride. I have short little legs, so for me, running sometimes feels like I'm working with Mini-Me's legs -- I run, run, run, but hardly go anywhere. The treadmill's steady rolling track helps me develop a longer, more even stride, which ultimately, helps me run better, faster, and farther. It also helps me maintain pace. One of my biggest problems when I run outside or especially when I run a race, is that I tend to start a little too strong. Eager to get out there and get to it, I can start off too fast and then I feel burnt out and tired halfway through. What the treadmill helps me learn is how to warm up to one pace and maintain that pace for a specified distance. Once I feel comfortable and able to maintian that pace, I usually up the speed and see how far I can do that for.
5. Lastly, when there are others running alongside me, it feels like a race. Which, let's face it, motivates me. I was running alongside one woman today who had run 1.5 miles in the time I ran 2.5 miles and that made me feel good about myself. I knew that if we were running out in the wild, I would be winning. On the other side of me was a woman who was walking at a snail's pace, so she doesn't really count, but I still like to know that I was smoking her as well.
So, that's it. Those are the things I like best about the treadmill. I hope this repairs any hard feelings I may have caused the treadmill gods by remarking yesterday that I didn't appreciate the machine. We all have to offer up the appropriate sacrifices.