Thursday, February 17, 2011

I have a fever, and the only prescription is less treadmill.

The middle of winter is not a good time to start training for a race. Or, at least, it isn't in New England. For starters, the average temperature hovers somewhere around negative one thousand degrees, making it impossible to go for a run outside without the risk of turning into an ice sculpture. Then there's the snow. If the nearly constant blizzard conditions don't keep you away from the gym, the continuous monotony of running miles and miles on a treadmill on the days when it's not snowing will probably become the cause of what esteemed professionals in the field of psychology technically refer to as "complete and utter boredom."

With that being said, in the past two weeks I have not only developed certain strategies to make all the time I spend on the treadmill less tedious, but have also learned to sympathize with all the hamsters of the world that have those little running wheels. So, here are a few of my secrets to surviving the treadmill with your sanity at least semi-intact. And yes, I have actually done all of these things at least once.

Treadmill coping mechanism #1: be a part of the band.
If you have an iPod with a workout mix, (or even just an iPod with songs on it, forget the workout mix) you can do this. Just queue up an epic song, flex your fingers, and let all those years of air guitar practice take effect. Let me just point out that a full out jam session at 5-7 miles per hour, though fun, will give you the appearance of a crazy person, which is why I recommend being a part of the band on a treadmill at home. That way, if anyone does happen to see you, they'll know that you're not actually insane. FYI, in Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run," there's this great saxophone solo that makes its first appearance about two minutes in, which is quite frankly prime rocking out material.

Treadmill coping mechanism #2: watch "The Biggest Loser."
Even before I started all this training, I've found that it's always easier for me to run when I'm watching other people run too. Historically speaking, running intensive sports like soccer and football are what I watched when I wanted to make my workouts relatively painless, but then I found "The Biggest Loser." I could say that witnessing all of the contestants' hard work toward their weight-loss goals is what inspires me to run faster, but that's not exactly the truth. The truth is, if I turn up the volume on the TV at home, or if I have my earbuds in at the Gym, it's almost as if Bob and Jillian are screaming directly into my face...and they are not nice. Don't get me wrong, watching the workouts definitely helps me find my groove, but it's all the yelling that motivates me to sprint as if I've just majorly given into a temptation challenge.

Treadmill coping mechanism #3: invent lives for all the interesting-looking people in the gym.
I'm sure you know the people that I'm talking about, every gym has them. There's the lady who always wears a giant scrunchy, mullet guy and who could forget super-jacked lifting glove- wearing man or woman? I mean, I see these people almost every day and all I know about them for certain is that we go to the same gym; the rest is purely speculation. Clearly, scrunchy lady is a scientist from the 90s who has recently discovered a means for time travel and is still adjusting to our modern style trends. The man with the mullet? His wife is a hairdresser, so he gets his hair cut for free. Unfortunately for him, he and his wife got into a fight around the same time that he needed a trim. Needless to say, he now sports a most unfortunate do. Lastly, the people with the gloves and the muscles are all entered into a daily competition to see who can lift the most weight and look best in spandex or sleeveless shirts. This obviously explains their presence en masse within the gym.

Until the mountains of snow melt and the temperature rises to a level conducive for life, on the treadmill is where I'll be; in that case, I'll be using my coping mechanisms until the middle of July. All that's left to say is this: bring it on, treadmill.

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