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Treadmill Dilemma




There's this book. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. More about food than you could even imagine.

Do you know what koalas eat? Eucalyptus leaves. That's it. Their entire diet is made up of nothing but eucalyptus leaves. On the other extreme, there's us. We eat everything. Seeds, fruits, grass, the flesh of other mammals, fungus, mold. Some of it the way it grows in nature, some we've altered recently, some we've altered over hundreds - even thousands - of years. Sometimes we add stuff to what we eat. Sometimes we combine different foods together. Sometimes we process it with heat or cold. While there are other species that do this, none of them to the extent we do.


A koala never gives his next meal a second thought. Eucalytus. Breakfast? Eucalytus. Lunch? Eucalytus. Dinner? Evening snack? You guessed it. Eucalytus.

No so, the human race. We have to decide. Every single time. And that decision can fraught with not just uncertainty, but danger. At the most basic level, we have to ask, "Could this  possibly kill me?" We've gotten a little better at that since we left the trees and caves and starting building houses and controlling more of our foodstuffs. But we've also added (fairly recently) additional questions? Is it environmentally sustainable? Is it organic? Will it increase my risk of cancer? Does my social group approve? What do the Kardashians think?

I bought that treadmill a couple of years ago. It was for Mrs. Dave. She wanted to be able to walk when it was dark or wet or cold. I swear to you - that's what she told me. As it happens, she's not walked on it once.

I tried treadmill running the winter before I ran Boston. I was so determined to give Beantown my very best effort, I signed up at Planet Fitness. No amount of ice or storm that winter was going to stop me putting in the miles. I sucked it up and ran a few times there when it was especially nasty. Then my hip had problems and I was happy to blame it on the wheel. No more treadmill for me. And I meant it.

Until this season. Like everyone else, I have no marathon on my schedule because there's no marathons to schedule. Motivation is a little low. What's high is the fear that - at 62 - a slip and fall would put me on the IR for an extended period. What's the big deal, since there's no marathons on the schedule? I ask myself that question. 2020 has reinforced how much I need running. Forget racing. That's a nice bonus, but putting miles on these old legs does important things for what happens inside the old noggin. It's not a cure-all, but it helps tremendously.

On the other hand, you all have this to look forward to: The older you get, the easier it is for the various body parts to be injured. And the road to recovery is longer and slower. I seem to have reached a point where I worry about it more than it happens. Not every single day, but often enough. Whenever the weather's bad.

But I still must run.

So I'm using Mrs. Dave's treadmill. It's in a corner of the family room with its deck folded up. When it's too cold for my taste or looks to be slippery or there's enough snow I imagine I'll slip sliding away, then I twist it to face the TV and start an episode of Vikings. That usually gets me through about 4 miles. I watched 2 last Saturday. I will not admit to liking it.

Here's the problem. Since winter weather has arrived fully and completely, I have to decide - every single day - if I'm going to layer up and hope the sidewalks are passable, or do I need to play it safe in deference to my aging infrastructure and have another session with Ragnar and Lagertha.

The treadmill runner's dilemma.

With my history of war against the treadmill, I always feel like I'm wimping out. Lazy. Soft. Weak.

But I don't want to spend winter on the couch. Or have to rebuild from an ice/snow generated injury when spring arrives.

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I ran on snow covered sidewalks and streets again this morning (it was also 17*, cold, but doable), and it was a slip-y, slow run. (Should have been a speedwork day). If I had a treadmill I'd have used it. The weather isn't supposed to get much better, and I'm asking myself everyday if it's time to brave the potentially germy gym. 

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Having the TV series to watch on demand is the way to do it. I'd probably put in a movie sometimes too. Well, start it and finish it over the course of a few runs. 2 hours on the mill? No thanks. Funny how Mrs. Dave hasn't used it. By "I want one, I mean 'you' want one."

Here in NC it is rare to not be able to run outside. My wife and I have debated it and we had one about 15 years ago, but gave it to a cousin when we moved to NC as we wouldn't have room for it anyway. I am working on a garage gym, but mainly for some weight lifting and such. Most importantly I was able to score an older, extra TV and sound system to put in there too. But being in the garage has its own distractions such as breaking down boxes for recycle.

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I hope to avoid treadmills and eucalyptus leaves as much as possible. It may be a treadmill, but at least you're getting it done.

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I've been running outside this winter when I have normally ran on a treadmill and when it is slippery I go more slowly and shorten my stride.   I really enjoy being able to get sometime outside and enjoy the fresh air and the rare days we actually have some sunshine.

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I'm old, I don't bounce.  :)

I have a NordicTrack, I really like it.  When the weather gets nice again, I'll go back outside.

For now, I alternate between the rollers for the bike, and the treadmill for the feat.

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