Dreadmills or Treadmills, the Choice is Yours.

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.

Exhibit A: 


I asked my twitter pals what they thought, poor treadmills didn’t stand a chance.

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.


Thanks, Weather Channel, for pointing out the fact that this would have been far more comfortable yesterday.

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.

13 thoughts on “Dreadmills or Treadmills, the Choice is Yours.

  1. I too hate the treadmill. I feel as if it takes me twice as long to go the same distance i can go outside! I’ve learned now not to use the treadmill for distance but for time. I run for an hour and i don’t care how far I’ve gone ( well, I do care, but I try not to let it bother me…haha). Since it’s winter now, I’ll be getting my box set of “Sex and the city” out and watching that while I run. Carving out an hour of time to watch a favorite show gets me motivated!

  2. Loved this post. I do not despise the treadmill at all and use it at least once a week (for speedwork because it keeps me more honest) in the winter months mostly. It allows me to run at night alone, so for that I am grateful! I definitely ‘prefer’ to be outside, but very much appreciate my treadmill!

    • That is so true about the treadmill keeping you honest, you either run at the pace set on the dash or you fall off, lol. I will have to try some of my winter speedwork on the treadmill!

  3. when i post about running on the dreadmill, i get MORE HITS than when i post about the treadmill. misery loves company! hahahaah.
    two years ago we got a treadmill for our house. i love it. it sits behind the couch in the kids’ tv area, so i get to hang with our dudes and run at the same time. i have learned, though, that watching them play certain video games while on the mill increases the danger factor. vertigo, nausea, and simply stopping mid stride do not make for a safe run…
    but i get em done.

  4. This post is perfect timing! I actually just wrote about how much I hate the “dreadmill” and finding ways to make it not so bad… but you are right.. perspective… that’s really all you need! So thank you for that!

  5. I love this! Less tips about getting through a treadmill workout and more about changing your mindset! Never seen a piece like this on the treadmill…brilliant!

  6. Lucky we are! I love your perspective on it. I feel like sometimes people take things way too seriously. I definitely think a minute moves much slower on a treadmill, but if I bring my iPad with me (again, lucky us) and prop it up in front of the timer and put some Netflix on – suddenly, it sucks a little less!

  7. Pingback: The Treadmill Diaries | RELENTLESS FORWARD COMMOTION

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