The Dreadmill and Me

There are people in this world who swear by treadmills, and while I mean no offense by this, I assume they’re the same kinds of people who swear by lima beans and child trafficking and cats.

I realize running on treadmills has its benefits – pacing, convenience, climate and built-in Property Brothers marathons if you time it right – but for me, with the exception of my Liz Lemoniest moments, I’ve never seen the appeal.

I could spout a list of Runner’s World-approved problems with treadmills, from the lack of wind resistance to the disintegration of proper running form, but my problem with treadmills doesn’t actually have a thing to do with biometrics: I’m just scared to death of them. I fell on one once as a child goofing off in a department store, and just the sight of them brings back memories of skinned knees and the faint smell of scorched rubber. Not my fondest memory. (This is.)

Smooch the pooch.
Smooch the pooch.

Fortunately, with my apartment situated just blocks from 843 acres of city-owned park and the vast majority of this winter’s snowfall arriving on my already-scheduled rest days, I haven’t had to step foot on the old belt-o-fear for twelve months and counting.

Flash forward to Monday night – or two days before the start of spring – when I arrived home at night to find this blanketing my neighborhood:

I live in a Windows 95 screensaver. I also steal jokes from Kat.
I live in a Windows 95 screensaver. I also steal jokes from Kat.

The next morning, I had three miles on the schedule, and with a solid inch of slush still lining the sidewalks of the Upper East Side, I vowed to do the unthinkable: I decided to run those miles on the treadmill instead.

As I bundled up, trudged to the gym, de-booted and made my way up to the cardio studio, my apprehension grew. You’re terrified of treadmills! I thought. What are you doing, woman?! I looked at my old elliptical friend longingly, then stepped onto the treadmill, cranked the speed up to 7.0 and prepared to get over my years-long fear of the running monster machine.

The first 10 seconds were fine. The second 10 seconds were fine. Then the third 10 seconds saw the treadmill suddenly lurch forward and convulse, throwing me off the back and onto the lap of the startled rower directly behind me. “Hmm, must be broken. That usually doesn’t happen,” the personal trainer walking by me said. Really? That usually doesn’t happen? What other pearls of wisdom can you offer?

He kindly unplugged the machine and donned it with an “out of order” sign, and then suggested I grab one of the other free treadmills to continue my workout. I laughed.

Luckily, Sir Elliptical was still going stag, so I picked up my headphones, backed away from the treadmills and decided once and for all: when it comes to workout routines, perhaps you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

Or maybe you can.

'Open the sun woof!'
‘Open the sun woof!’

Are you a treadmill runner? What do you see as the benefits? Handsy dude on the rowing machine, I already know you’re a fan.


7 thoughts on “The Dreadmill and Me

  1. Yikes! That would put me off treadmills for a while for sure!
    I use the treadmill in the winters some times when the conditions are icy, snowy and freezing outside that prevents me from going out, but I would MUCH rather be outside in all cases if possible

  2. I have to second Mary here. I much prefer running outside, but when the ice is too much, I drag myself to the Y. I guess I’m not ready yet to drill screws into the bottoms of my shoes. (I love Runner’s World, but that particular “how-to” was just a bridge too far for me!)

  3. I’m not a big fan of treadmills. I will only use them in the worst weather or if I’m forced to run at night. I’ll run outside in the dark in the morning, but not at night. This year, I got a pair of Ice Trekkers I wear over my running shoes if there is snow or ice.

  4. Good grief, if something like that happened to me, I would be too spooked to get anywhere near a treadmill. Like everyone else, I greatly prefer running outside. But with all this cold weather, I’ve learned to tolerate the treadmill for speed work.

  5. Yikes! Sounds like you really do have bad juju when it comes to treadmills! When I first started running I preferred the treadmill because running outside seemed harder, but nowadays I definitely prefer to be outside. However, if it is pouring rain or ridiculously hot and humid out, I do still hit the ‘mill rather than skip a run.

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