I’ve been planning on writing this post for a little while, and as it’s half term plus I’ve just finished reading Born to Run, now seems to be the ideal time. I toyed with the title Trails Trump Treadmill, but, despite my love of alliteration, the risk of being associated with anything Donald caused me to adjust.
When I had completed, then blogged about my half marathon, I wondered where to go next with running. As the short days at the end of the year approached, I knew I needed to find a purpose to running to keep me motivated. With the pressure of the half behind me, I realised I could enjoy my runs more, and tailor them to be what or how I wanted. It would be ok to deviate from a structured training plan and run when and where I fancied. I could even pause to admire the scenery and take a quick photo on my phone.
When it’s cold and dark, early or late, some people choose to run on a treadmill. Now, I remember my last visit to a gym. It was 2003, and for a few weeks I tried to persuade myself that I could be someone who went to the gym. I already knew that I would never be someone who enjoyed going to the gym. Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake alternated on the music channel. I’d complete a circuit of about four machines, including the treadmill, then trudge home. As I was a student I went during the day so the gym was fairly quiet, but I hated it. So dull, repetitive, monotonous. Yes I burned calories, I probably even lost a bit of weight but, looking back, it wasn’t worth it. It was something to endure, feel relief at having completed, and then begin to dread when a day or two had passed and the next workout edged nearer.
Since 2003 I’ve barely returned to a gym. I can’t imagine I would feel any different now. They don’t fill me with inspiration. About ten years ago I did invest in a cross trainer, which is just about bearable, but if I’m honest is tucked away in the loft. I think I used it once last year to get my steps up to 10,000 after a late finish at school.
Given the choice, I’d exchange a treadmill for trails any day. The fresh air, the scenery, the sky, the landscape. There are so many reasons I would rather lace up my trainers and opt outside. I love to spot wildlife and birds, and can easily do so in the fields and woodlands within easy reach of my front door. On a recent run near home without even trying I spotted jays, buzzards, yellow hammers, gold finches and long tailed tits. In a couple of months I’ll hear cuckoos at Clumber Park and, if I’m lucky, maybe an occasional woodpecker. Rabbits, hare and squirrels often make an appearance too. All thrown in for the price of going outside for a run.
I’m currently mulling over everything I read in Born to Run, and in particular what the rationale of my own running is. To me, running on a treadmill lacks the purpose of going outside for a run. The pleasure is removed and replaced with a dreary sense of duty; a box can be ticked when you’ve completed a run on a treadmill – job done, but are you itching to go again? Planning your next route? Hoping for a decent night’s sleep and a clear sky so the sunrise can pave the way for your next run, or are you just glad it’s over?