Diary of a Newbie Runner: It Used To Be Torture

{by Ellery Sadler}

I’m scared of long runs. They scare me because they are long. And the farther you go the farther you have to come back. My sisters tell me that everyone feels somewhat like they are dying at the end of a long run. I believe them, I just happen to know for a fact I am much closer to the edge of the grave than anyone else. So I decided, instead of running on the road, I would run on our torturemill…I mean treadmill. (I have heard that treadmills were first used as a method of torture and I believe it and think about it every time I run on one.)

I slipped on my fabulous new shoes and began running.  Problem with treadmills: you never go anywhere. No matter if you run for ten minutes or sixty, you stay in exactly the same place the entire time. It’s really really boring. So I decided to chew gum. I had music blaring in my ears, legs churning, mouth chewing. Much more interesting.
Time ticked slowly by, after about 40 minutes I start to get really tired. I stare at my reflection in the window…but maybe the reflection is distorted. I look down at my shirt, dripping with sweat. Nope, the reflection is not distorted. I start to talk to myself. “You can do this.” “Just 20 more minutes.” “Go – go – go.” (My goal for that day was to run for an hour.) And I turn my music up and start tapping the air with my hands to the beat of my music, or at least, what I think might be the beat. I can’t tell the beat unless it is very pronounced, so normally I just tap the air to whatever timing seems good to me.
I pop a new piece of gum in and feel a surge of energy. This is good. I’m going to make it. And then my side starts to ache, my knees begin to get weak and feel like they are going to crumble, and my head aches. I stare at the clock on the treadmill with the intensity of one quickly moving towards insanity – that’s when you know you’ve almost reached the end of your run. I grab my iPod, flip to one of my favorite songs, turn the music even louder, chew faster and keep running.
And then…the ten minutes is up and I sink to the ground in a grateful heap. I reached my goal…and surpassed it, by two minutes. But wait there’s more – Amazon woman has told herself she will do 20 sit ups after her run, so she lays down to do them. But once I lay on the ground there is no reason I have to get up… in fact I’m not sure I can get up. I almost choke on my gum and do the 20 sit ups. Feeling victorious, I crawl to my knees, smile blandly at myself in the mirror and walk out for my reward – a handful of well-earned M&M’s. Thank goodness no one watches me while I run….they’d probably think I was crazy.  

Come to think of it, maybe I am. After all, that thing used to be used for torture. And I’m not convinced that that isn’t what we are still using it for today.