Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who hates the treadmill more?

Now that I invited The Dark Warrior to write and share his side of our running partnership on my blog, I can't shut the guy up. He has sent me 3 journal entries, which now means I'm behind and must catch up. Our running relationship has transferred to this blog, and I can't be the one behind. Especially because it's my blog!

On the weekends, DW and I head outside for training, running on Saturdays and Sundays, training for the evil Pikes Peak Ascent, which was all his idea. During the week we go our separate training ways, with me continuing my outdoor runs and him heading to the health club to run the treadmill. Now, I detest treadmills. I will run in the most heinous of weather to avoid them. It's been years since I touched one. On a recent trip to DC, as the plane landed we looked out the window and it was snowing. We got to the hotel, changed into our running clothes, and checked out the treadmills on the 3rd floor. I just couldn't do it. I got my running jacket and gloves, he donned his homeless man's sweatshirt, and we headed outdoors to run in the snow because I refused to step foot on the treadmill. And it actually turned out to be a great run.

Since the DW spends so much time on treadmills on a weekly basis, below is his description of his loving relationship with them.

"Treadmills - Mobius Strips of Death" by The Dark Warrior

The last time that I updated this journal, I described how my running partner tried to kill another innocent and I on the same trail run. Some might ask "Why run with someone that tries to kill you ?" A reasonable question. Pity that long distance runners are as far from reasonable as the Earth is to the Moon. You run with your running partner due to a horrible mixture of friendship and hatred. You're best friends with the person because you spend a frigging lot of time in places where there is nothing resembling civilization with them. You hate them because you're afraid that they may be shaving a second per mile off their time when they're running alone without you.

Which gets me to the point of this entry. During the week, my partner is free to run everyday due to an extremely understanding spouse and an equally understanding co-worker. She can modify her hours to match the available daylight (I did say I hated her, didn't I ?). I on the other hand must rely on the evils of indoor training equipment. This is because I go to work before daylight in the Winter and leave after dark. There is no more odious task in the world than going to the local meat emporium (fitness center) after work and spending time on aerobic training equipment.

In the fitness center, you can elect to receive your punishment in a number of ways. There are those that swear by the exercycle. Typically, these people are reading a magazine and listening to an IPOD or some such. My view is that the only time a magazine should be employed in indoor training is to cover the still warm pile of vomit you left on the floor while you run for the paper towels. Still others swear by the elliptical - "It gives you a total body workout, not just your legs" - news flash : I don't run on my arms. My belief is that people use the elliptical because it has convenient handholds so you don't slip off at level one while discussing the loser you were with on last night's date. Finally, there is the treadmill. I have a special relationship with treadmills; I hate them. If you're a history buff, find a history of the middle ages. Look up forms of torture. I guarantee that in every book you will find an illustration of a device called "The Rack". The Rack was a platform that had rollers on each end with a hand crank. You tied the victims arms to one set of rollers and their feet to the other set and slowly took up the slack with the hand crank. Not only could you slowly increase the reach of the victim but you could easily pop the arms and legs out of the sockets. Now, getting back to the treadmill, if you put a continuous belt around the rollers, replaced the hand crank with a motor, put in a vertical riser and crossbar with a display and a tilt adjustment, you'd have the modern treadmill. I don't think that this is an accident. All of those Royal Torturers had to go somewhere after torture fell on disfavor ("Psst,hey, Princess. Your ass is looking flabby. I've got something that can fix that").

So, in the Winter months, when daylight is short and I'm not clinging to high trails for my life while running with my partner, I run on the treadmill. I've said that I hate them; let me try to describe why. First, there are the people that habitually use them. These come in several types. Type 1 is the Spandex Queen - Typified by brightly colored excercise clothing that has never seen a drop of perspiration. The top of which has a strategically low cut to reveal the after market breasts. These users will inevitably be walking at an incline while talking to another Spandex Queen on the next treadmill. If the mindless chatter isn't enough to make you hurl, the overwhelming stench of perfume will shut down your airways almost immediately. Type 2 is the Super Runner - Typically male, age 20 to 35. These icons of ultimate maleness can be seen running on a teadmill that is set to 8 mph. Their pattern of running is to sprint for five minutes then hop up on the edges of the machine while the belt runs underneath them as they adjust IPOD, dringk sports drink, answer cell ("dude" - it's a male friend on the other end. "Hi. Oh nothing. Just doing my daily tuneup" - female, potential date). I could go on. Needless to say, at typical meat market hours, finding a treadmill upon which to run is an excercise in strategy and diplomacy ("Excuse me miss, do you mind if I move your workout bag, towel, sports drink, and spare magazine off this machine you are not using ?").

Next, there is the machine itself. The belt is too narrow. Just wide enough to let you get up to a decent pace; but narrow enough to allow you to accidentally step onto the non-moving part if your attention should lapse for a nano-second. Imagine the scene if one half your body suddenly goes to zero mile per hour while the second half continues at 8 miles per hour. In aircraft parlance this would be called a "snap roll" and would result in one wing being ripped off the plane. In running parlance this is called wiping out and results in one arm being dislocated at the shoulder. Not only is the belt too narrow, but the machine is too short. Let yourself be luuled asleep and you step off the back of the belt. Step too far and your knee jams under the crossbar. Then there is the readout. It counts off every f'ing second. If you are running fast, you have no choice but to watch the readout. Take your eyes off the display and you will step off the belt into oblivion. Me, I count the second by tens, downward from 600. This means that I am counting down each ten minute segment. Do this out loud and people stare at you. Do it out loud for an hour and they walk to the other side of the club to pass you. If you do manage to keep in the middle and on pace, the machine is relentless. There is no varying your stride. You must match the pace of the belt. Which gets me to the final irritation. In most clubs the machines are set to a fixed maximum duration. If you are trying to set a milage mark, nothing is more furiating than approaching your distance (say 7 miles) only to have the freaking machine time out at 6.3 miles or 60 minutes. Like I say, I hate them.

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