So I find myself on a treadmill staring straight ahead at multiple TV screens, some with smiling talking heads nodding at guests, some with sports stars trying to talk into a microphone which has been shoved under their chins and others with people sitting in a circle around a table, at what I cannot be sure, because there is no sound. Still, all of us, lined up in rows on various cardio equipment stare at them anyway, even smirking with them when they throw their heads back with laughter.
I check the treadmill, sure I have already run for 30 minutes or more and find that a mere two minutes have gone by; I am sweating buckets, I am staring at strangers’ behinds as they climb steps that lead to nowhere or pedal bikes stay in one place no matter how hard their thighs are worked over.
I am miserable.
I feel as if someone is sucking out my soul, and I look wistfully over my shoulder out the window where the rain continues to fall on the street outside.
I thought it would be a good idea to give one of these 24 hour gyms a shot, since the membership is cheap and since they gave me a three-day free pass to check the place out. I need a safe place to run early in the morning before the kids wake up, or on rainy days when I cannot face the falling rain and slick streets.
I ran two miles before I gathered my sweaty towel, my license, my free pass and my Gatorade bottle and headed out the door without so much as a good-bye.
I went to a local dirt track and finished my run while jumping puddles and sinking into wet sand.
Something has shifted with my running, and today I hit a tipping point.
I am willing to sacrifice getting faster for my happiness. Even if it means that I run slowly in the mud and rain, or if it means that I cannot run at all because it does not fit into the schedule.
I would rather show up to a marathon full of mental energy drawn from trails and puddles than with speed obtained from a hamster wheel in a soul-sucking room full of talking heads.
And yet I look back fondly at my gym rat days, the days when I just needed an hour of vigorous exercise while my children slept so that I could face the rest of my day with a smile. Still, I don’t remember all of those enormous televisions. (They multiplied in my absence.)
And I certainly don’t judge any of the enthusiasts who seek out stationary equipment to get their sweat out, as I have been one of them. I might be one again, especially if I can find a treadmill for my home. ( As long as it doesn’t come with five big-screen TV’s.)
It’s just that at this moment I am someone else.
And I embrace that.