A Simple Joy

As I worked my way through my strength training routine, watching other gym rats walk or run beyond the TV bank, an epiphany hit. I had actually enjoyed the treadmill. After four months of rest and recovery following a stress fracture in my foot, I managed to run three intervals of five minutes each, and I didn’t hurt. I had that runner’s high back. I felt good. I couldn’t wait to tell my love about that big, huge, exciting five minutes. Almost a half mile at my slow, training from injury pace of a 12-minute mile, but it was almost a half mile!

A year ago, I was running four to six miles at a time and dreading the inevitable return to the gym as the narrow roads were too dark after work to run safely. Soon enough, snow banks would add to that danger. I hated the thought. I hated the treadmill. I needed to be outdoors with the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and random turns through my neighborhood, and several others nearby. I needed to be outdoors like I needed to breathe, eat, and sleep.

And yet, as I swung my arms in a delt fly, I realized I had enjoyed the treadmill like I enjoy running outside. It took eight weeks of crutches and eight more of easing back into things as simple as walking around the grocery store to make me appreciate five straight minutes of running in place staring at TV programs I wouldn’t be caught dead watching if I was anywhere else.

The treadmill is not evil. I will not let myself go back to that loathing. As long as I live inNew England, I will suffer brutal winters that force me to use the gym’s treadmill to run. If I start hating that machine again, I will get lazy again. I love to run too much to let something as unavoidable as winter interfere with the soaring beauty of a great run. In my determination to run faster and longer, I had forgotten the pleasure of simply running. Now I remember.

Now I run.

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