When technology speaks: Get outside, you wussy

dreadmill1

It started out innocently enough.

I got up yesterday morning and I was cold. Stayed cold till I walked out the door to run an errand. Came back home. Still cold.

The day called for a lifting session at the gym and a minimum of four miles of running. Pretty typical workout day for me during the middle of the week.

But I was tired of being cold.

Just one day before, I relished in a fine run through the increasingly rare phenomenon of an Oklahoma snow. I even posted a few comments online extolling the virtues of running on a couple of inches of fresh snow on grass. If memory serves right, I called it the best running surface ever. I stand by that comment.

If you follow this blog much, you know that I dislike any cardio indoors. Way too much fun to be had and benefits gained by exercising outdoors.

Rainy? Get outside.

Temps pushing 110? Get outside.

Windy and raw? Get outside.

That’s what I do. Even the blog’s header says so: “Life’s too short to be an indoor cat.”

But yesterday I just didn’t want to be cold. I also didn’t want to bag it for the day. That would be pretty lame, particularly with three races coming up. So I sentenced myself to getting my post-lift miles on the treadmill.

I think the treadmill has its uses, and I won’t judge you if that’s where you prefer to run. It’s just not my thing. So I had to really rationalize and pump myself up for it.

It had been awhile since I’d run on a treadmill. It would give me an excuse to listen to tunes on my iPod (No headphones outdoors for me. Another one of my quirks.) It would also give me an excuse to mentally power through miles while doing so in an environment where I don’t like to run (inside). Mental toughness matters!

Oh, and I wouldn’t be cold.

Fifteen sets of shoulders later, I squared up on the treadmill and powered it up. Led Zeppelin was cranking on the iPod. I spun the machine up to a good pace and eased into what I hoped would be 40 or 50 minutes of work before I had to wrap things up.

There were snags. Technology snags.

The earbud in my right ear kept falling out. Reason No. 324 I don’t like running with headphones, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to listen to the house music at the gym. Not when a Queens of the Stone Age or Black Keys tune could be up next on the shuffle. So I fought that for a bit.

Otherwise, things were good. My breathing was solid and unlabored compared to what usually happens when I’m outdoors. My legs were a little heavy, but that’s been a thing lately. My guess is I could have gone an hour and been OK, despite the monotonous nature of hamster-wheel running on a treadmill.

Then something fatally annoying happened. After 20 minutes, the treadmill automatically went into cool-down mode. I’d set it on manual, expecting that it would just keep time till I stopped, but not this new-fangled piece of hardware. Oh no. You have to set your time beforehand, or it goes into a secret default setting of 20 minutes.

Not acceptable.

It slowed me down to a walk, so I sped it back up, but the cool-down countdown was already under way. Five more minutes and I’d have to reset the damn thing again.

It was as if the machine were telling me something.

I know you’re just not that in to me. Go ahead. Go outside. It’s OK. Be free.

I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes until I had to stop and get ready for work.

I looked at my garb. No cool-weather clothing. Sweaty cotton T-shirt.

Outside it was 36 and drizzling heavily.

I didn’t care.

Already adequately warm, it didn’t matter that it was cold. The streets wouldn’t tell me that my time was up. No earbuds would be falling out. And there would be hills and puddles and new things to see on a funky winter day.

Off I went, my legs a little pooped but otherwise I was good. The street lights behaved, as did the traffic, and I returned 20 minutes later breathing hard, drenched from the mist and considerably happier than I would have expected.

I endeavored to embrace technology, and my technology spoke to me. It told me to suck it up, leave it behind and go outside.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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