I hate running on treadmills. I also dislike running outdoors in the cold. The result has been that, while I may get into pretty good shape in the summer, I always lose that fitness over the winter, because I don’t run.
This year, I’m trying again to run on the treadmill. This year, I’m trying with podcasts.
I don’t listen to my iPod when I run outdoors. Running outdoors is wonderful, and I want to experience it full. Running on a treadmill is awful, and I want to pretend it isn’t happening.
I’ve had to make a second change to make this work: I’m going to the fitness center by myself.
Before, I tried to fit my workouts into the joint visit to the fitness center that I make with Jackie to do our lifting. That didn’t work. Jackie was willing to walk on her treadmill while I ran on mine, but she wanted us to be walking together. Since I was trying to pretend that I had slipped into some sort of lacuna in the space-time continuum, I was an unsatisfactory companion. Jackie was also willing to carry on with her workout while I ran, but there’s no reasonable way for her to stretch her workout to last 20 minutes longer, which is only barely enough time for me to get a reasonable run in.
So far, the scheme is working okay. For three weeks now, at least twice a week, we’ve gone to the fitness center for our lifting, then gone to taiji, after which I’ve gone back to the fitness center to run on the treadmill. The first couple of runs were kind of shaky, but I’d gotten them up over 2 miles last week, and today I ran 3 miles.
That’s long enough, I think. My long runs outdoors had gotten up over 5 miles, but my plan for the winter isn’t to boost my endurance, it’s just to preserve it. If I can run 5–7 miles a week, I think I can accomplish that. A single 3-mile run each week, combined with one or two 2-mile runs, will do the trick.
The podcast thing is working. My plan had been fiction, and I’ve listened to an Escape Pod story and to one on the Small Beer Press podcast. The problem with fiction is that it takes a while to get wrapped up in the story, and every instant that I’m not immersed in the story is an eternity of actually experiencing the fact that I’m running on a treadmill. Music works okay. News podcasts are okay, too.
Once, when Jackie and I were heading into the fitness center, back before we’d given up on treadmill exercise together, I asked her on our way in the door, “Are you ready to face the satanic mills?”
“At least they aren’t dark,” Jackie replied.
“It’s true,” I admitted. “They are well-lit.”
They’re still well-lit. They’re still satanic. But they’re pretty tolerable, if you’ve got a story to listen to.