The tragedy of the treadmill

Posted on May 15, 2011

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Dedicated to AJ. You know who you are and you know what you need to do!

Now that Summer has reared it’s hot head on our shores, I’ve had more than a few runners lament over moving inside and taking to the treadmill. Just the word fills me with horror so this post, Tragedy of the treadmill, will I hope plant a seed to discourage their use.

Reason no 1

Our bodies are the most amazing machines. Wounds heal, bruises disappear and illnesses are fought. They can surely then cope with a variation in temperatures even if somewhat extreme! We think nothing after all of fleeing every Winter to Zermatt for a week on the piste. And beneath the cosy togs and our furry cuffs, is a body that has very quickly adapted from the desert temperatures to a cold and blustery environment.

Ditto then when Summer comes. Immerse yourself, persevere, stay hydrated and in exactly the same vein, your body will adjust. It will become more efficient at cooling itself down and you in turn will find it less energy draining and a little less uncomfortable.

Reason no 2

Most people don’t even bother to use an incline. Uh hello!!! The world isn’t flat … it’s round. How can you possibly think you are getting half the workout that you would be outside. Even running on a seemingly flat road will see your body make constant subtle adjustments to the camber, the wind, the terrain and more. If you are simply wanting to upkeep a moderate level of fitness then by all means go for it. But if you think you can train for an outdoor event on an indoor machine, then you have a surprise in store.

Reason no 3

As the whole world knows, I love goals … setting them and working towards them. If you run outdoors, or even walk, cycle, blade or do a multitude of other sports, you are going somewhere. You are heading in a direction … going on a journey … learning and growing along the way.

But on a treadmill?

It’s the quickest route to going absolutely no where. What quite frankly is the point? Just as you live life with a purpose and direction, you should surely run with purpose and direction!

Reason no 4

How well do you know your community? Your city? Have you ever really explored it? If you live in Dubai have you: run down the creek and rested on an Abra as the sun rises …. run round the marina as dusk falls and the promenade starts to come alive …. run in Satwa … and embraced well, life full-stop …. run in Emirates Hills and watched grand mansions as they are transformed from shell to ostentatious palaces … run on the beach in Um Sequim and watch the surfers catch the waves … run around Disco Gardens and soak up the atmosphere of dozens of nationalities, languages and cultures on the sidewalk …all this on our doorstep never mind the adventures to be had further afield.

Reason no 5

As an extension to the above, next time you find yourself in another city … for work or for play, remember this … the BEST part of travel … of discovering a new city is running at day break and seeing the place come alive. The signs, the lights, the colours, the smells … it’s an explosion for our senses. Unearth the neighbourhood. Watch the locals. Find a market. Watch the newspaper stands set up for the day. See bakeries come to life and breath in the smells of freshly baked loaves. Stare at commuters and wonder where they work and what they do.

How can this possibly be beaten by a run on a treadmill in the hotel gym to the sounds of elevator music and a team of staff thrusting freshly laundered towels and paper cups of water at you.

Reason no 6

Well… if time permitted and I had all day to blog and no work to get through, I could and would go on. You get my point though. Just try it. Keep plodding as nature intended.

Our lives in Dubai are superficial enough what with our air-conditioned homes, artificially lit offices and super-sized malls. So when it comes to exercise, surely, going back to basics and enjoying it au naturel should be part of the attraction.

The problem with our lives today is that we have lost the priceless capacity to wonder. This I wrote about recently in my post Mountains of the Mind.

By running on a treadmill, you kill any capacity to wonder.

But to tread outdoors, to experience life on the road, you can recapture that wonder and you need never let it go.

Explore your space and run the road less travelled.

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