Jan 29, 2015

In Defense of Treadmills

Treadmills get picked on by most of the running world.  They're boring.  Running on a treadmill sucks.  It's less motivating.  And so on.

Well, I disagree.

Would it surprise you to know that not only do I primarily use treadmills, but I actually PREFER them to running outside?  Here's why.

12 Reasons Treadmills Are Awesome

1. Your Mileage is Right There

I'm not motivated to run to that next tree over there.  Or to finish the loop around the park that may or may not be 3 miles.  Having the numbers in front of my face gives me a way to track my progress and a goal to shoot for.  Plus, I like to do that whole mind trickery, "Just one more quarter mile.  Oh you made it?  Ok, let's try the next quarter mile."

2. Something to Focus On

Now I know most people prefer outdoor distractions and things to look at while they run.  But when I get tired, I don't really look around me anyway.  You know what I do look at?  The numbers on the treadmill interface.  And I do math with them.

How long has it been since I last looked?  What fraction of a mile is that?  At this speed, what percentage of a mile am I running each minute?  And so on.  Obviously I'd prefer my mind to be off wandering and doing something a lot more exciting to make me forget how much running sucks, but since it's determined to be focused on the running, I can trick it into doing this math thing to make the time go more quickly.

3. Automated Pacing

I'm not good at pacing myself.  And I tend to do the opposite of what I should.  Going up a hill?  I better go FASTER to get it over with more quickly.  Oh wait, now I'm too tired to continue.  A good song just came on?  Without even trying, my legs speed up, and then I'm winded and not sure why.

Pacing is something I should probably work on, but for now it makes getting started a LOT easier when I'm automatically regulated and putting an even amount of effort into each minute.

4. Less Time Consuming Overall

This might not be true for everyone, but since I have access to a treadmill at work it only takes a few minutes to change and hop on the treadmill.  When I run outside, I typically go to the park, and then I have to get in the car and drive there, and drive back.  It's a few minutes, but more importantly...

5. Less Initial Prep Work

Those few extra minutes can be the determining factor between actually going through with it or crapping out on my workout altogether.  I have to change my clothes?  Ok...  I have to drive now, too?  Nuh uh!  Motivation is one big mind game and right now the outdoors is losing.

6. Privacy

I know no one cares if I'm wheezing when I run.  And I'm sure no one's judging me for not having a runner physique, or when I have to take a break and walk.  But knowing this doesn't mean I don't think about it.  Running alone after work or at my parent's house means less prying eyes and less negative thoughts.  On a similar note...

7. No Other People

The difference here is that privacy makes me feel less better, like no one's judging me.  No other people means there's no one in my way.  Sometimes the running track gets crowded, and the power walkers, stroller moms, or casual meanderers just don't give a shit about moving out of your way.  Sometimes people have their dogs with them and either don't know how or don't care to control them.  It adds an irritation and sometimes a danger to my run that I don't care for.  (Side note: total respect for stroller moms.  I hope to emulate you one day.  But you do take up a lot of space.)

8. No Dogs

This time I'm referring to one particular dog.  Luke.  As much as I love him, he is a pain to run with.  Constant speed?  Not really his thing.  And I know that he's a terrible jogger, but when I exercise outdoors, I always feel guilty that I'm not taking my dog, and that he's probably not getting adequate exercise, and I should take every possible opportunity to give him the outdoor time he deserves.  But when you're barely forcing yourself to continue running, dragging another creature behind you is the one little thing you need to convince you to stop.

And sometimes it can even be dangerous, when he sees something and darts across your path.  Just ask Ryan - his first ever broken bone resulted from tripping over Luke (and mine was the dog park - how ironic!  Our sweet, little dog has broken both of us).

9. Music

I know you can listen to music when you run outside.  But you know... my tender eardrums aren't too fond of ear buds.  It doesn't take long for them to start hurting, and I really feel like the volume necessary to actually hear the music over my pounding footfalls and the rush of blood in my head is probably an unhealthy and maybe even damaging level.  And God forbid an ad comes on!  Pandora ads are so fricking obnoxious; they've been physically painful before.  So now I only listen to music when I can set my phone somewhere and blast it out loud.  Like on a treadmill.

10. Accessibility

Kind of like the music, a treadmill means you have accessibility to other modern conveniences.  Like bathrooms.  And cup holders.  So I can hydrate without having to carry that bottle.  I don't have to worry about where to put my keys.  If I want to adjust my clothes or remove a layer, I can do that.  If I want to watch a movie while I run, I can even do that.  (I haven't been doing this - it doesn't seem worth it for 3 miles, but when I get up to 8 or 10, you can bet I'll be watching some Mulan and Pocahontas!  Best running music ever!!!  "Let's get down to business...")

11. Climate Control

Remember that post about crummy lungs?  Well, yes, I know they'll get better as they're exposed to different temperatures.  But if I'm planning on running hard, trying to increase speed, or run a new distance, then the last thing I need is for extreme cold or heat to get in there and ruin my lungs for the rest of the day.  Plus, I know I'll be fairly comfortable and I LIKE not having numb fingers and toes (Running outside in 30 degree weather?  Not happening).

12. Even Footing

I don't have to watch out for ice, uneven pavement, dog poop, or small children, and I can focus on my posture and running habits.

I mean, really, does it get any better?

What do you think?  Have I made you rethink the treadmill?  If not, what do you dislike about them?

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  1. I will say I 100% prefer running outside to a treadmill every day of the week. However... I have to go to the gym to use a treadmill. It takes longer than walking out my front door, the prep work (getting changed, putting stuff in the locker) takes longer, there are people around etc etc. On top of that, I do find the treadmill far too boring - I can't do 6 or 10 miles on the treadmill, max is 3 or 4. That all being said.. if I had a treadmill in my house I would be all over that shit. The treadmill is a necessity to me during the winter (I hate the cold and the dark) and one day if I have kids it won't be as easy for me to pop out for a run, so I do want a treadmill. So I hate it but I appreciate it a LOT :)

  2. I've often said I only run if someone is chasing me. But if I can't do anything else, I'll jump on the treadmill at the gym and watch TV while I'm running. I just think it's dull. If I had a treadmill at home it would probably have dirty clothes hanging on it. :)

    1. It definitely can be; and I absolutely understand where people are coming from when they don't like treadmills. Maybe the primary difference is that I also don't like running outside, so the treadmill can't possible be worse. ;-)

  3. I really want a treadmill! I am hoping that we have one within the next few weeks. My neighborhood is not really runner friendly, and I would love to catch up on shows that my husband dislikes while working out!

  4. Climate control and being able to watch TV would be my 2 big reasons


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