Treadmill, I love you

Treadmills. The road to nowhere. Boredom central. Interminable machines with no soul.

A lot of people hate treadmills.

I don't.

It's hard to identify who really hates treadmills and who is trying to make out their lives are way too exciting for the staple gym piece. Demonstrating that you're the adventurous outdoors type clearly means you couldn't possibly follow the Office Flock into a sweaty cage. You're too... free.

Mocking aside, I understand not everyone is a fan of the treadmill. And that's cool. But I really want to celebrate some of the positive aspects of a pretty smart machine that gets a lot of stick.


1. It's indoors
The indoor treadmill is bloody brilliant - because it's indoors. I love running outside, but there's one very important factor to consider: I live in Britain. What's more, I live in Wales. I see a lot of crap weather.

I'm not one to be put off by a little rain (see my post on running in a storm), but sometimes it's just too cold, too windy (ever had sand blow into your eyes?) or, or my least favourite, it's icy. The treadmill is a great back-up and means there are no excuses to skipping a run.

Let's not forget the one in four Britons with hayfever. The treadmill might be the only way people can enjoy a run in high pollen season.

2. Enjoy a different running surface
Treadmill surfaces can vary, but generally they're softer than road running and it's also doing some of the work by moving for you. Amen to that.

3. Have whatever you want to hand
It may seem trivial, but having somewhere to put your water bottle, mp3 player, tissues, a towel, keys, phone, inspirational photograph or anything else you fancy within easy reach is undeniably handy. You can keep your hands free with the convenience of your very own shelf.

4. Variety - just as you want it
Outdoors might seem like the obvious place to run if you want variety in your training, but that really depends on where you live. Sometimes I find myself struggling to find a convenient, safe place to get some hill repeats in. On the treadmill I can programme in whatever I want. Two minutes of this, two minutes of that...

Plus, I confess that I hate downhill running, so I get the benefit of strengthening uphill runs without having to come back down again flailing like an out-of-control walrus.

5. Learning to control pace
The ultimate reason why I love treadmills. There's this gadget thing on treadmills which means you can set the speed you run at. Pretty obvious, yes, but I never underestimate it. Understanding pace has been absolutely essential to me, and treadmill running helps me think about my pace - and form - and then maintaining it... improving it... and taking what I've learnt back out onto the road.

6. Go somewhere else
A lot of people hate treadmills because, well, they can't go somewhere else. I personally think you can. Maybe my imagination is a bit wild, but I can switch off from the environment around me and go to two different places.

First, I can do that 'proper runner' thing and focus on what I'm doing, my breath, my form and enjoy the rhythm. There's nothing stopping anyone from going into that meditative state of running, while on a treadmill.

The second option is to go into any damn world you like. Think about your holidays, a dream you had, your Tesco shopping list. For twenty minutes, you're immersed in your running machine and you're in control. Go where you like.

And if all else fails, watch gym TV.


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