The weather has driven me inside. I guess I am a bit of a fair weather runner, but I just can’t run in single digits or freezing cold rain/sleet. Therefore, I’m stuck on the treadmill and not liking it. I find running on the treadmill hideously boring. Despite that, this week’s treadmills runs have felt great. The reason? I can run really fast (well, not objectively fast, but fast!).
I started out running on the treadmill as soon as I was allowed to run after knee surgery. Everyone starts on the treadmill because it’s soft and there are no unpredictable cracks, rocks, or sticks underfoot. Plus, it makes it easier for unstable knees to have the belt coming at them at a steady pace. That first run was either hilarious or horrible – I’m still not sure which. I was lopsided and had a pronounced limp. I thought that I looked a bit like Inspector Gadget (from the old cartoons) when one of his gadget limbs malfunctioned. I love Inspector Gadget and if you watched the cartoons you know exactly how I looked when I was running those first few months. I “ran” pathetically slowly – about as fast as most people can walk. I kept going and got faster and faster. I clearly remember running at 4mph (a blistering 15 minute mile) for the first time. I felt so free. My gadget leg and I faithfully hit the treadmill for months before braving outside running. Just before I ran outside for the first time, I was running at a top treadmill speed of 4.8mph (12:30 per mile). This week I hopped on the treadmill and started with an easy warm up jog. I looked down at the treadmill and found myself running 5.6mph (10:40 per mile) at an *easy warm up jog*! I couldn’t believe it. I know a 10 minute mile isn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt like I was flying. Watch out Kara and Shalane, here comes Rachel! I suppose this is perhaps something that only the recently-injured experience – pure, uncomplicated joy at running a glacial pace. That’s why I run – to feel free.