We’ve had a handful of days of constant snow here in Denver, altogether mounting to several inches, combined with temperatures in the teens, dipping into the single digits. The cold never is never a legitimate excuse to duck out of running, but when trails, streets, sidewalks, and bike paths are all covered with several inches of snow, any decent pace of running while outdoors is almost an impossibility. And so, here I am racking up some miles on the treadmill the past few days while the pathways clear.
Many refer to it as the DREADmill, or automatically react with frustration and disgust when confronted with the option. I use to be the same way. Being on a treadmill sucked. Which is why I’ve come to openly embrace it and encourage others to do the same for those particular times when running outdoors doesn’t make sense.
While most would recognize that the treadmill can be hugely convenient, or save a ton of time when the footing is not right outside, most people rarely mention one of the more profound benefits I’ve found on a treadmill. On the treadmill, you’re confronted with absolute and stunning…..boredom. Just you and your thoughts. Even the best movie, TV show, podcast, or music doesn’t negate the inevitable drudgery of the monotony. Running is a mental struggle. Ultras, even more so. The ability to be in the moment, be mindful, be present, and live in each step and mile is forged over long periods alone. Even in the most crowded gym, on the treadmill, you are uniquely alone. And stopping, is just one push of a button away. Now is the time to calm the thoughts. To let the mind go blank, and accept the reality of each step.
I find the treadmill uniquely satisfying. I wouldn’t want to live out most of my running on it, but stripped of natural landscapes, weather, and companions, the treadmill pushes on the limits of motivation, and pushes me to confront and accept the presence of discomfort and absolute repetition, and for that, I can’t help but think that it’s a tool of growth.
~Get Out and Get After It. Happy Running Ya’ll.