Like a drunken rat on a treadmill
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Friday night’s trip to the gym included a stop on the treadmill. Now, this doesn’t sound all that out of the ordinary, except me and the treadmill, we don’t get along. Me and running don’t get along, but there’s something about the treadmill, any activity on it, and my ankles and shins whine about it. So I’m not sure why I wandered over to the treadmill area after I hopped off the elliptical.
I suppose it might have been as a way of avoiding the stepper, which is a piece of equipment that was used in the PT clinic I went to after tearing up my knee back in 2000, and which I’ve never used since. I’ve thought about it on the occasions I’ve been to this gym, and likely would have given it a shot – after all, it’s right in front of the TVs permanently tuned to EPSN (I haven’t actually tested that theory yet) – but for the fact that Wednesday, I had a massive flashback to those rehab days, upon seeing a piece of equipment that, to the best of my recollection, I haven’t seen since that clinic. It was one of those machines for hip flexion/extension, where the bar extends over the standing platform, and you either push up with your quad, or you hitch a leg up over it, and use the hammies to pull the bar down. The flashback wasn’t disturbing, nor did using the machine hurt or really bring back bad memories, but it was enough to maybe put off the stepper until next week. Maybe.
So, in lieu of stepping out, I treaded…ummm…mill. A week or more ago, I had a thought that I might try jogging this year, maybe learn how to run a bit, so I set the treadmill speed at 4 miles per hour, a not very fast 15 minute mile pace, not much more than a walking pace. I mean, after all, there are kids who finish entire 5K races in that time. Sure, they’re freaks of nature, but if they could do three and change in 15 minutes, then surely I can do a mile in that time. Now, I wasn’t really thinking that I would indeed do this 15 minute mile, partly due to the treadmill issues detailed here, as well as fact that I severely doubt I can run a mile straight at this point. I used to play soccer as a kid, through high school, and to this day, unless I’m chasing something, I hate running. It can be a ball, or a Frisbee, but I need something to go after in order to make running worth it. I hear running types talk about a runner’s high, and I’m convinced they must be smoking something. But I plugged in 4 mph, and off I went nowhere.
For two minutes, I kept running, and I didn’t feel my ankle say a thing, and I wondered if I could make it to 5. Unfortunately, I hadn’t accounted for technology conspiring against me. Exactly 2 minutes in, the treadmill demanded that I give them a heart rate, because unbeknownst to me, I’d signed up for a program of constant heart rate on that machine. And, having just completed a spell on the elliptical, the two minutes of jogging already had my heart rate higher than their arbitrarily chosen 119 BPM. So the treadmill slowed down to allow my heart rate to relax to that standard. Since my heart was going up in the 130s, it slowed down another 3couple times, until it was convinced that I was within its preferred range. 3.4 MPH. Too slow for running. Very comfortable walking speed.
So I played its game, walking for the rest of the 20 minutes I’d chosen. But it wasn’t through mocking me, no sir. All the machines at this gym have a default 5 minute cool down period, with the elliptical, for example, choosing a low but constant resistance for that time. The treadmill scoffed at constancy, choosing instead to decrement its speed by 0.5 mph for each minute of the cool down. So, from 3.4 down to 2.9, down to 2.4 and so on. The last minute of that trek was spent at 0.9 MPH, or as the treadmill so condescendingly informed me, on a 66.5 minutes per mile pace.
Sure, I could have jumped off at any time, but I wasn’t about to let that sucker get the best of me. I was going to ride that ride the full 20 minutes plus the cool down, and by golly, that’s what I did.
So, yeah, the first running ‘adventure’ netted me about 2 minutes of running. When I got off the machine, I was a bit disconcerted to find myself wobbly, as if I’d just returned to land after being on a boat for a while. It’s been long enough that I’ve avoided treadmills that I can’t recall if that’s how I usually react.
On another note, the transparent yet mirrored glass of the cardio room didn’t much help matters, as it revealed a rather unwieldy guy lumping along on the treadmill. Despite the modest loss to date, my belly and my butt remain, well, sizable. I saw a fitness site describe my shape as “skinny fat”, where you wouldn’t say I was obese if you looked just at my arms (no problem circling my fingers around my wrist for example), but take a peek at the trunk, and you’ll see where the weight sits. I’ve always had the issue of having Medium arms, and an XL belly (XXL at the start of this trip). According to the reflection in the window, where me and my big butt were just trundling along, that hasn’t changed a bit. But hey, there’s another bit of motivation. Time to throw it on the pile, and see if it burns.