The dreaded treadmill.

In Toronto, the ideal times to run are spring and fall. It’s not too warm, and it’s not too cold: the ideal temperature for running is about 12C to 15C, which is about what it is early in the morning during those times of the year. Unfortunately, these ideal conditions last for about 11 days tops.

With the right clothes, you can run in almost any weather. Serious diehards can put on long underwear, heavy socks, multiple layers of clothes, gloves, hat, and a ski mask, and head out in almost any temperature imaginable. But that’s only when the roads are clear. Snow and ice are a different matter: that’s when you need to go indoors and run on the treadmill.

The one good thing about the treadmill is that I don’t need to wear outdoor clothes to use one – it’s indoors. There’s a spot to store my phone, so that I can link up with Bluetooth to my running headphones and listen to music while I run. (Some dedicated runners even watch movies or read e-books while running.) There’s also a spot to store a water bottle, so I won’t go thirsty.

But the idea of the treadmill still petrified me before I tried it. It’s an endless belt that keeps moving, even if I suddenly stop. What happens if I trip or miss a step? Will I go flying off the treadmill against the wall or the floor, undoubtedly permanently damaging multiple body parts in the process? Do I have to remain vigilant forever? How can I possibly do this? (The inside of my brain is a fun place. If you think you’ve got it bad, I have to put up with me all the time.) I never completely lost the fear of treadmill-related injury, but I gradually got used to treadmilling.

The one problem was maintaining proper form. After my first two or three treadmill runs, I noticed that my right knee was very sore. Uh oh, I thought. Eventually, I figured it out: worrying about falling off the treadmill had caused me to adjust my stride so that my right foot was pointing off at an angle to the right instead of facing straight forward, which was putting strain on my knee. I concentrated on running with my right foot straight ahead, and gradually the problem went away. And, after a few weeks, the weather got better, so I was able to run outside again. (Though, as I write this, they are forecasting an ice storm for the weekend. In mid-April. I might have to go back on the treadmill again. Sigh.)

Next: dealing with colds, worrying about injuries, and getting through the winter.

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