made for each other: the ebook and the treadmill

For the past week or so, running outdoors has been out. With one blast of southern air, our pleasantly mild summer disappeared and was replaced with an oven. We had a heat wave, combined with extremely high humidity levels. It was so hot and so humid that it was just too difficult for me to run outside.

I have had mixed experiences with treadmills. When I first started running, I ran on the treadmill at 24 Hour Fitness because I was too self-conscious to run outdoors. After that early novelty wore off, after I began running outdoors, the treadmill became tolerable but boring. It was something I put up with when it was too hot or too cold to run outdoors, but I didn’t love it.

I got rid of my 24 Hour Fitness membership, but I still have a treadmill at home. Admittedly, it’s tucked into a dark, crowded corner of the basement. I’m sure home decorators and fitness coaches would not approve – aren’t you supposed to put it in a bright, cheerful, friendly part of the house, where you want to visit every day? Unfortunately, in my house, the only place where we can fit a treadmill is a dark, crowded corner of the basement.

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Our treadmill is rather quirky. Though the belt works just fine, the display is broken, so I can’t tell how fast I’m running or how far I’ve run. It’s far from ideal, but it gets the job done. (I’ve considered using a Nike+ sensor to figure out how fast or how far I run on the treadmill, but I usually run on the treadmill barefoot and haven’t yet figured out a solution for using the sensor without shoes.)

I approached the treadmill with some trepidation, but it was treadmill or nothing. I had music playing in my ears on my MP3 player, and I brought my iPad with an ebook that I’d recently started.

And I made a wonderful, wonderful discovery.

With the text on my iPad enlarged, there’s a pace where I can run along AND read the my book at the same time. It’s not a FAST pace, but it’s more than enough to work up a good sweat. At that pace, with my mind occupied by the book I’m reading, running is not a struggle. I stopped myself after an hour.

I felt so good that, the next day, I ran again for an hour. And again. And again. In the past week, I’ve run either five or six times – I lost count. I’ve seen more benefits than just the running. By reading AND running, I feel like I’m accomplishing more than if I just ran. Since I’m not outdoors, I am not getting as dehydrated, which is nice. I am more aware of sweating (perhaps because it’s not evaporating as much), which feels oddly powerful.

The weather is supposed to cool off this week, but I have not yet decided if I will head back outdoors. As long as I’m enjoying the treadmill this much, I see no reason to change it!