I might get banned from the running community for saying this but...
I don't mind the treadmill so much.
Sorry if I made you throw something at me, but that's just the truth. I don't mind the treadmill so much. There. I said it again.
All things being equal, I prefer to run outdoors. Mostly. If I have to knock out a five-mile run or a 10-mile run, I'd much rather do it outside, whether it's on the streets around my neighborhood or a running trail somewhere.
But that doesn't mean I wouldn't pass up a 70-degree-and-sunny day to go run on the 'mill. I have. And I will.
I must be out of my mind, right? Well, maybe. But I think I have some good reasons for harboring some positive thoughts for the treadmill.
For starters, during my weight-loss journey, I did all the exercises indoors, at the gym, mostly on machines or weight sets. I did lunges and sprints and used the jump rope (now that sucked!) and things like that but I think all of my cardio I did on the elliptical or stairmaster or stationary bike. I wasn't a runner back then, nor did running appeal to me (can you believe that?!?).
So to me, the treadmill is just another necessary piece of equipment that helps me achieve a goal. I feel bad because I've abandoned everything else to focus on my running - no free weights, no elliptical, nothing - but part of that is my schedule. I can't say "on Monday and Wednesday I'll do this and Tuesday and Thursday I'll do that" because my schedule changes from week to week, from day to day.
And that's the one constant I have too, with regards to my schedule. I have a treadmill at home, and when it's just me and Kennedy here, I can easily set up the treadmill and crank out four or five miles like I've done recently. If it's between running 4-5 miles on the 'mill or not running at all because I can't go outside, that's not a tough choice at all. I can also take Kennedy with me to the gym and use the treadmills there. Again, if it's 70 degrees and sunny but I can't run outdoors because I can't exactly leave Squirrel alone, then it's not a tough choice to make as well.
Now, I get why the term "Dreadmill" has been coined. The thought of getting on there and having to crank out 30, 40 or 50 minutes on the treadmill, looking at yourself in the mirror or some other stagnant image, is just, well, dreadful. I know the feeling. But sometimes when you are running outdoors and you are struggling for whatever reason or you just want to get through a run, having had the experience of just putting your head down and plowing through some miles on the treadmill will help you do the same outdoors. Often times during runs, I can just put my head to grindstone and churn out miles, and that's because I've conditioned myself to do so.
I know I've used it during races before. Instead of focusing on some target up ahead, I can focus on my form and pace, just like I do during my runs on the 'mill. And that helps. The treadmill obviously doesn't relent - if you set it for a 7.0, it stays at a 7.0 - so you have to keep up.
And that's another thing I love about the treadmill. One of my favorite runs is The Interval, and I am not a skilled enough runner to replicate that outdoors. I can fartlek outdoors (mandatory fartlek joke: it's best to fartlek when others aren't around) and all but that's more of an opportunistic run, as opposed to the rigidity of an interval run.
I suppose I could go to my local high school track and formulate some sort of interval run there, but then I'm also up against some obstacles: run during the afternoon or evening, since you can't exactly let yourself on campus during school hours and knock out a run. Or you could limit yourself to doing that on the weekends. But then there's the whole schedule thing, and so I haven't even bothered to try and formulate an interval run on the track.
Anyway, while I look forward to running outdoors, especially with my fantabulous Loper running pals, I don't exactly cringe when it's time for a treadmill run.
That doesn't make me a bad runner, does it?