I’d like to thank the person who coined the phrase “first world problems” (or at least the person who decided it was worthy of a Twitter hashtag). It is a hilarious yet tragic description for so much of what I read on the Facebook day after day. You know what I’m talking about, statuses like: “The new iPhone update is totally ruining my life” or “the massive line at Starbucks is going to make me late to work“. What’s more, “first world problems” (I do like to picture it as #FirstWorldProblems in my head) has become much more than simply a reminder to not take anything for granted, it instead has become a sharp slap in the face that we truly can be a bunch of spoiled brats.
Case in point: the “dreadmill”
Otherwise known as a treadmill to the rest of the civilized world, many of us runners eye that piece of equipment with such disdain you would think it was actively trying to steal our beloved Garmin watches or sabotage our 5K PR.
I am no exception to treadmill loathing. I’m not sure if it is the monotony of staring at the exact same scenery mile after mile, the fact that time seems to slow to a crawl, or the underlying fear that I may truly rocket off the fast moving belt in a gym disaster of epic proportions, but the treadmill is not my favorite piece of gym equipment.
I’ve heard the arguments that suggest “real runners” avoid treadmills at all costs. You know, sleet, snow, hurricanes, etc: just like the mailman, nothing will stop the “real runner”. Note, I do not believe in this logic, in fact, the other morning at the gym I witnessed a guy get on the treadmill, start sprinting, and maintained that pace for a good 30 minutes, all while making it look effortless. I went from being scared for his life to being scared for the treadmill; he dominated that thing. And then there is this badass known as Emz, who runs ridiculous distances on treadmills ALL THE TIME. 50 miles here, 100 miles there. If that isn’t a “real runner” than I don’t know what is.
As for me, I’m what Bill Bowerman would refer to as a “Soft Runner“. That’s right, drop the temperature below 40 degrees, add in some sort of wind and/or precipitation, and I am out. I love stepping out of my comfort zone, except for when that comfort zone induces uncontrollable shivering and numbness in my fingers.
So what’s a runner girl to do? Oh, first world problems, here you are again.
Tuesday night, despite all of my whining about the weather in hopes that Geoff would agree and suggest we go to the gym instead, we ran a quick 2.5 tempo miles, on trail, in the dark.
I ran the gamut of emotions as quickly as I ran those miles (8:08 avg pace, in the dark, on trails, I’ll take it). From complaining (all in my head, of course) that I was too cold, to lamenting over the fact that I was sweating (Under Armour cold gear is amazing), to bitching in my head that the only other option besides this arctic wasteland (I get a little dramatic when I’m cranky) was the evil treadmill. Woe is me.
And that’s when the #FirstWorldProblems hand slapped me in the face.
Wake up Heather, and realize how freaking lucky you are. You have:
- a safe trail to run on.
-not just warm clothes ( a blessing in and of itself) but warm clothes designed specifically for running.
- these really cool gadgets called headlamps to light your way.
-shoes on your feet
and lest we not forget…a healthy body and strong legs.
And when ALL of that fails (well, besides the legs), you have an amazing invention known as the treadmill to run on. A device that allows you to run as fast or as slow as you want, from the comfort of your own home (or gym). A way to not just simulate running, but actually RUN, and continue training without going anywhere at all. Sure, this thing can be as boring as a documentary on pencil shavings narrated in a monotone voice, but at least we still have that option. How truly lucky are we?
The next day I found myself in need of a lunchtime 5K. The temperature hovered around 25 degrees and windy, and I didn’t feel safe running by myself through our neighborhood (a story for another post). So I went to the gym and got on the treadmill. And instead of dread, I tried to remember the perspective I found on the trail late the night before. And I won’t lie and tell you that it was the most fabulous run of my entire life, but with a change in perspective, it was certainly more enjoyable.
The point of this long rambling (would you expect anything less?) post: I often have people ask me HOW they can enjoy the treadmill more. And typically I suggest things such as intervals or ladder workouts, or even a good TV show or music to distract them. But it has occurred to me that there is another way to enjoy the treadmill: change your mindset. Realize how amazing it is that we not even have this technology, but have it readily available to use. Sure, it isn’t as great as running outdoors, but it is a luxury so many others could never dream of.
We are a lucky bunch.