The other night I was restless when I should have been exhausted. When I should have found slumber joy in the way my cheek indented the pillow, the way my toes curled in clean sheets, I twitched. My shoulders wouldn’t settle, they were rocking back in forth as if to keep me unstill. My ankles rolled in their joint bed and my legs became addicted to the feeling of swiping back and forth over the slick sheets. And then I realized: this is the same as a dog who is dreaming of running. Minus the whimper and the pursuit of the squirrel/chipmunk/cat, of course. My body wouldn’t still because it needed to run. It was feigning the movements, in awkward twitch-like fashion, but activating my running parts just the same.
It had only been two days since my last run, I thought.
TWO FULL DAYS, my body answered, mockingly elongating the sound of the word FULL.
Yes both my mental and physical selves turned on me, scolding me for not giving what is wanted: running every day.
So the next day, yesterday, I didn’t make any excuses. Didn’t pull the I worked 12 hours with a 2-year-old and even did some lunges while she ate her snack so that is a work out enough and I don’t need to run today.
No excuses, only this:My friend, the treadmill. I use the term friend loosely. It is a friend of many components.
See that string, that string that is hanging from the front of the treadmill…if the image was labeled, the string would be called FIGURE 1A. 1A t is used to shut off the treadmill, should there be an emergency. I don’t use that string. I don’t even like that string. It accidentally disconnects if I bump it, or step too hard and shake the treadmill, or when I’m reaching, well flailing, for my water and end up tangled in the string. And when it disconnects, everything shuts down. Not only does the treadmill stop moving, but worse, bye-bye running stats: how far I’ve run, how long, how many calories have been depleted. All turned off with the stopping of the treadmill. All systems gone.
Sometimes…and usually after mile 4 or so, I begin to think that maybe figure 1A has it out for me. That maybe, when the entire thing shuts down unexpectedly, that it isn’t my fault. That the string has a mind of it’s own and it disconnects itself just to farkle with me. Mind you, this is after 4 miles of running in the same place, staring at the same wall and befriending the only other moving thing in the room, the treadmill.
Figure 1A is not the only active part of the treadmill.
The previous image does no justice to the face of the treadmill. Yes, the girl whose body and mind take over, commanding her to run, mocking the running movements if bedtime comes before the run is completed, just took it a step further. The personified treadmill. It has a face. IT DOES!
Notice the two fans, or eyes, that dare you to look deep into them as you run. They stare in a way that conveys a challenge: Amy, are you pushing yourself? Couldn’t you be running this fast, ANNNDD be on some kind of incline.
And the screen. It is like a hospital style heart rate monitor, rising and falling to demonstrate hard working, or failing. But I like to think of it as more of a robot. The screen being the part that lights up to signify emotion. Slow blink, the robot is sad. Blink Blink Blink, it is happy. The screen doesn’t lie. The stats read – SPEED: 7.2 TIME: 36.20 DISTANCE: 4.75 miles. And that is exactly correct.
Those stats are the communication of the treadmill. the truth speaking, excuses nixing, this is exactly what you are doing, summary of the run. It can be encouraging, especially when the treadmill comes with an extra feature. On the screen of some treadmills there is a representation of a running track. The track is formed by a line of little dots. The distance that has been run is demonstrated (depending on the model) by either one of the little dots blinking, or the line of dots completing a full circle. Ex. Image below.
If I look at the track I can tell, by the blinking light, how far I’ve run, should this be an actual running track. This is the cheerleading squad of the treadmill, the cheerleading squad whose members, in their spare time, volunteer for positive encouragement support groups. It lets me know that I am almost there, have almost finished another time around the track (0.25) miles. I can see this and I can see my stats, that I have been running for 36.20 minutes, and I can keep going, even if I want to stop. I can get there, and I can complete the lap faster, maybe even before the stats say 37.20, if I press the arrow next to SPEED: up a few times. If I get it to say 8.0, then i feel like I’m flying. The screen represents my flying because that little blinking dot travels so fast around the track it looks to be sweating.
The body of the treadmill is basically standard. There are bars on each side of the treadmill, giving the runner his or her own special treadmill space. It also might keep the runner from leaning too far to the left or right, or even from falling over. And, of course, there is the part of the treadmill that you run on. Depending on the price, the quality and smoothness of this differs. I am a treadmill snob. I can pick out a cheap treadmill and I’m not above saying that a lower quality treadmill might give me blisters. I’ll say this, but I admit…I am a rare breed.
Speaking of falling over (and let’s bring up the image again for reference) there is another part of the treadmill that might seem to be an aide in staying in the upward running position.
Those two bars, the black and silver ones that look like bicycle handlebars, appear to be placed there for the runner to hold on to while he or she goes. This is completely untrue. They are heart rate monitors. You BRIEFLY hold your palm to the silver part and then it calculates your heart rate and displays your heart rate stats on the screen. Should you choose to do this, find your heart rate and let it go! Holding onto the bars as support is cheating. You don’t hold on to the side of buildings, when you walk, do you? Let the handles go. Run with your own might, do not borrow the steadiness of the machine.
I really get worked up about the holding on thing. In fact, when I am “helping” people on their first few treadmill uses. I lie a little bit. Before I start them on their run, I give a stern warning about the handles and why they should not hold on to them. I call the handles the punishers, explaining that they are there to shock the runner into running in proper form. And i really mean shock. I tell runners that if you try to grab onto the handle, it will send an electric shock through your palms, all the way up your arms. It won’t hurt you, I explain. It is similar to one of those invisible dog fences that shock the dog if it goes out of the yard. It doesn’t hurt too bad, it just ensures you’ll never, ever, do it again. Thus, keeping you upright on the treadmill, always. Yeah, after training with me, you might want to consult your owner’s manual.
Yesterday’s run = five treadmill miles. In my book, that’s okay. Later that night, I probably undid most of the good from my run when I came home and drank 3 beers while watching Kate plus 8 and Losing It With Jillian, showing that there is room for improvement, even from the girl who communicates with her treadmill. Either way, I didn’t twitch last night and I immediately fell solidly asleep. Was it the satisfaction from the good run? Or was it from the beer, completely logging me out? Or is it that I require a balanced combination of both? It is up for debate.