When I run on the treadmill, I understandably feel like I’m just… keeping up. That’s why treadmills are used as a metaphor for Sisyphean tasks; they’re a self-inflicted form of rolling a rock up a hill, except, in this case, you are the rock.
So, rather than feel that way, I chose to run outdoors through the winter as much as possible. I know that I am more interested, and less despairing, when I run outdoors. There’s something to think about, even if it’s as simple as ‘turn left’ vs. ‘turn right’. On top of that, I get to set my own pace, the air takes the sweat away better (I only feel sweaty after the run, vs. on a treadmill where it seems 15 minutes in that a faucet has opened above my head).
I know that I’m not the only person who has a love-the-option/hate-the-details relationship with a treadmill, but in a way I’m grateful that I felt strongly enough about it to keep myself outside. I feel like I stuck with my exercise better, enjoyed it more, and learned more about myself as a runner this winter by slogging out some runs in the cold and dark, vs. slaving away pushing my stone up a hill.
I’m thinking about this because the triumph of daylight over darkness is coming, and I’ve noticed myself just going for two layers for most outdoor runs these days. There’s snow on the roads tonight, but I don’t know how much more I’ll have to struggle against. In my secret, tragic heart, I think I’ll miss it.