OK I will admit it. I ran on a treadmill on Monday.
How many times have I looked with pity at the unimaginative runners trapped on a treadmill and sequestered in a dark gym as I walked past them on my way to run outside in the weather? Too many. And so, now, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that on a day when the skies were blue and the sun was shining and wind non-existent and temperature in mid-60s, I spent the noon hour inside on a treadmill. What gives, you might ask, and well you should.
I wasn’t inside for comfort or safety. I ran inside for accountability and predictability. All the miles of running by myself over the past 30 years have left me a terrible judge of pace. By that I mean they have left me slow.
One reason I like running so much is for the time alone on my feet. But while that’s good for contemplation and meditation, it isn’t good for maintaining a meaningful pace. My friend, Fred, once told me, “Run alone, run slow.” He always trains with other runners. He is also much faster than me.
So I ran on the treadmill last Monday so I couldn’t cheat the pace. The treadmill kept going at whatever pace I told it no matter how I felt. It didn’t matter if my legs and head thought they were running six minute miles; if the treadmill said they were actually ten minute miles, well, the treadmill was correct.
Loners like me are easy to entertain and usually easy to please, but we have to design accountability into our lives. One reason we like to be alone is because when we’re alone we don’t have to please anyone else or measure up to their standards. Maybe we claim we don’t need other people to be complete human beings (which is incorrect, by the way), and we are living up to our own standards which are higher standards than that of the teeming crowd, but in fact being alone all the time makes it too easy to cheat. We need accountability. And we need help seeing the bigger world.
So on the treadmill I listened to my currently favorite podcast, Radiolab, from radio station WNYC. I like listening to voices that are smarter than me, so I might be pulled in their direction, and this is certainly one of those.
Radiolab is a science show that goes into great detail about specific and often obscure topics, but it isn’t like any other science show I’ve ever heard. It also isn’t as nerdy as that description. I like to listen to it even when I’m not that interested in a particular topic because their presentation is always so creative and entertaining.
But the real reason I like to listen to Radiolab is because it opens my eyes. It’s a reminder that life is bigger than I thought, bolder and deeper than I thought, that there is more to life than meets the eye. I love things that open up the world, enlarge my view, and open up the window to a spacious view by pulling back the curtains.
So from now on when I see the other treadmill runners at the gym I will assume they are working on their pace and widening their view. I’ll probably give it another try next week.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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