Motivation, the Treacherous World and the Dreadmill

It’s still winter. Last year, I was running outside by January. This year, there are ice covered lakes everywhere. Or lake covered ice. Every half block, I run the risk of running through a little lake and slipping on the treacherous ice hidden below. If I decide to challenge the ice I can see, my foot goes right through to the treacherous lake underneath and my shoes get soaked. Nevermind patches where people didn’t shovel their sidewalks or driveways and there is still a foot of snow. It’s not even fluffy snow at this point, it’s the crunchy snow that can actually cause cuts. It’s a treacherous world.


In less than three months, I will be running my first marathon of the year. I am not even close to being ready.


My options now are:


  1. Brave the treacherous world outside and hope that I don’t slice up my legs or slip;
  2. Head to the track that is 3km from my house;
  3. Get onto the “Dreadmill” in my basement.


Now, I believe it’s understood that I don’t like making excuses. However, in this case:


  1. Slipping could cause an injury that stops my running for a much longer period of time, and shredding my legs will hurt;
  2. While only 3km away, that’s a long distance to brave the treacherous ice by walking in the -30 weather we’ve had (don’t forget, I don’t drive) and I have to pay to use the track;
  3. Only feasible option.


The treadmill is not something I normally dread. I use it occasionally as a supplement for running. An hour on the treadmill isn’t so bad. I can monitor and control my pace and the incline through the whole session. I can use it as a warm-up for cross-training. I don’t have to worry about impact injuries like I do with sidewalks. I can watch movies. Some days I can even manage to talk on the phone or text while I’m running, although coincidentally, I’ve also fallen off the treadmill and it has always happened at those times! There is still a degree of risk.


The thing is in this case, now for months (MONTHS!), this has been my only source for run training. I haven’t been avoiding the training, I’ve been putting some solid kilometres on that machine. While I don’t mind it as a complementary tool for training, it is really frigging boring as the only option. It’s even difficult to use my normally overactive imagination when staring at the same space. I can see the television. I can see the fireplace and the tiles, which I now know are uneven. I’ve watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Beauty & the Beast and Moana countless times.


In all honesty, it is really difficult to get the motivation to jump on that treadmill AGAIN. There’s no fresh air. There’s no wind. I can’t feel the sidewalk change to gravel on the paths, I can’t feel the gravel change to dirt off the trails. I will never run into a deer (or a bear, so I suppose that’s good). I won’t hear birds or people. All I look at is the tiles and movies. Putting a pair of sneakers on to go outside offers so much stimulation beyond just the movement. When I run outside, I feel like part of the world. Even when I run in suburbs, I’m encountering more. I have the opportunity to experience something wonderful, or terrible, but just experiencing something is amazing in itself. I can get lost in my thoughts because I’m not being joined by Star Lord, Chris Evans, Gaston and Dwayne Johnson.


The treadmill. It’s got such a terrible name too (“dreadmill”), so it’s unfortunately starting off poorly. I have to appreciate it though. If it wasn’t for the treadmill, I wouldn’t be where I am in my training for the year. If it wasn’t for the treadmill, I wouldn’t have trained to maintain a faster pace than I did last year because I can specifically control that the whole time. There may not be a lot of excitement about getting onto the treadmill, but I need to recognize how much the treadmill has made available to me.


This is so much more than the treadmill. There are so many things that may be unappealing everywhere. Healthy eating. Work. Family dinners. Getting out of bed in the morning. There may not be a lot of motivation to do these things. We can see them as a necessary evil, but we can also look at them as something that is actually leading us to something positive. Healthy eating supports a healthier life. Work gives us money to do things we want/need to. Family dinners allows us to continue to build loving relationships in our lives. Getting out of bed is what we need to do in order to get to coffee.


I don’t know how much longer I will be using the treadmill as my primary source of run training. I don’t know how many more times I will watch Belle “want so much more than this provincial life”. I don’t know how many times my enthusiasm for running will be challenged because I don’t want to listen to the treadmill belt rotate under my stride. Regardless, my desire to run the marathon in Banff in three months is my motivation. Whatever motivates us, focus on that. Focus on what we love, and not the uneven tiles.


P.S. If anyone has ANY suggestions for alternatives, I would LOVE to hear them. I’m not particularly optimistic about the sidewalks improving anytime soon (and sorry treadmill!).

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