On Wednesday I had a crazy crush of work so I was late wedging in my workout. Because we’re so far north, Portland gets dark early, especially on overcast days. I had to run before going to pick up Phoebe from some after-school classes, and it felt too dark and gloomy to run outdoors. So I did something I rarely do—I headed to the gym (en route to Phoebe’s school) and hit the treadmill.
I’ve run on a treadmill maybe five times in the last five years, and I had forgotten how dreadfully, painfully, excrutiatingly D-U-L-L it is! My hat is definitely off to runners who can put in the miles going nowhere. Even with Oprah on the gym TVs and my iPod, time crawled. It creeped. It almost ground to a standstill. After running for what felt like a good stretch, I’d glance down at the control panel to discover I’d only covered a fifth of a mile. Come ON! Then I commanded myself to only look down after every song. That became a game of resisting the urge to look at the control panel—I felt like one of my toddlers, longing to touch the stove knobs or to sneak a sip from Momma’s soda can.
At long last, I got into a semi-zen state by looking at my reflection in a small window. I could only see my shoulders and part of my head bouncing along, but it was blessedly enough to distract me for about a mile. (For a great piece about disassociating while running, check out this New York Times article.) While it was a dreary, uninspired run, at least I took away a valuable note-to-self: No matter what Mother Nature throws Oregon’s way this winter, I’m running outside, not in.