Treadmill Running: How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

Today, for the first time in over four years, I cried Uncle and ran on the treadmill at the gym. I hate running on the treadmill,  so much so that it’s taken me this long to jump back on the belt again. I’m fairly certain the last time I was on one I ran 9 miles, so that’s probably why I was so slow to return.  Things have to be pretty bad before I’ll give in and run on the treadmill.

I could tell when I left the house this morning that it was going to be a miserably hot day. For the first day in a long while the humidity was high and a brown haze sat over the city. Sure enough, there was a sign on the freeway stating today was a Level Orange pollution day. I tend to have asthma that pops up now and then, especially when the pollution levels are orange or red, so I made the decision to run at the gym.

Five years ago I got a great deal on a gym membership. If I signed up and paid for a two year membership, I could renew for only $50 per year for the rest of my life. I have to say, I rarely go to the gym, but that’s still a pretty good deal. Even if you do only go once every four years.  Even if that means I essentially paid $200 to run on the treadmill today . . .

But I digress. Let me count the ways that I hate treadmill running:

1.   I hate it because it makes me car sick. After I got off the machine this afternoon, my head was hurting and my stomach felt queasy, just like I feel when I try to read in the car.

2.   I hate it because I can’t read the little red numbers that tell me my pace. When I wear my contacts (for distance) I have to use reading glasses to see up close. I do not want to wear reading glasses on the treadmill. No explanation needed.

3.   I hate it because my competitive drive kicks in when someone runs next to me and I want to run faster than them. I crane my neck to see what level they’re running at, so I can up mine if need be, but I can’t see their numbers anyway because I need the reading glasses!

4.   I hate it because there is never anything good on TV. My friend Heather (who also hates the treadmill) gloated after her run today that she got to watch E! at her gym. My gym never has anything trashy enough to distract me. It’s always CNN without subtitles.

5.   I hate it because my iPod never plays anything good when I run on the treadmill, and I have a LOT of good music on my iPod. I don’t know about your iPod, but mine has a mind of its own. There is the Tom Petty mix, when the iPod will randomly shuffle through one TP song after another, or the country mix, the U2 mix, or god forbid the opera mix when you’re trying to run. “Un Bel Di Vedremo” just doesn’t cut it when you’re stuck on the ‘mill.

6.   I hate it because other than bad TV, there’s nothing to look at when I run. Staring at myself in the mirror while I run is a shocking sight these days, and watching guys in their 20’s is just gross at my age. I do have my age limits.

7.   I hate it because I want to set the machine to start at 4 miles and beep when I’m done. Maybe I can do this but, again, I can’t read the damn console to figure it out!

8.   I hate it because my treadmill jiggled more than any others today. This bothered me. My water bottle was careening around like a drunken sailor in the cup holder and everyone else’s sat there nice and stable. Wondering about this distracted me for about half a mile or so, but not enough for me to change treadmills.

9.   I hate it because out of boredom I start to compare myself to the other runners around me, especially the women. Why is she taking such long strides when she runs? Should I be doing that? Am I running the wrong way and no one’s told me all these years that my stride is too short? How old is she?  Why don’t my legs look like that?  You get the picture.

10.   I hate it because I watch the numbers. They’re like an eye magnet and my eyes are uncontrollably drawn to them. If I put the towel over the console and try to hide them it becomes even worse, I become obsessive, it’s all I can think about, and everyone will see me trying to peek under the towel and will know what a weirdo I truly am.

I know there are runners who love their treadmills, and I admire you, but the treadmill is not my friend.  The Texas summer sun is even less my friend, but I’ll take the pavement over the treadmill any day.



  1. michelle

    I have a love / hate relationship with the treadmill. I think it is great for speed workouts because I can control exactly how fast I am going. But I’m like you and stare at the numbers. I have to cover up the numbers with a towel or magazine or I just go insane.

    • Run Nature

      Wow, speed workouts on a treadmill. I have to run those with a group to keep me going. If everyone else can push themselves so hard, then I know I can’t let myself back down and give up. It’s the same thing on a long run.

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