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.
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!