The first rule of running on the treadmill: there is no farting on the treadmill. Not only is it rude to the people around you, but it's hard to blame that kind of thing on someone else when you're in such a confined environment.
Let me back up.
After spending a week's worth of workouts running at my gym on the treadmill, I've learned certain...um, quirks...I've developed over the years running outside that perhaps I hadn't noticed before. Or, I can say with more certainty, are not so socially acceptable inside versus outside. I told my wife about these discoveries and she just furrowed her brow and said, "No, I don't do anything like that." So, I leave it to you the reader, the runner, or both, to decide if you think I'm crazy, or can relate at least on some level.
Over the years, I've not made it a secret that I hate running on the treadmill. Give me a blustery wind so cold that your face feels like it's going to fall off over the monotonous, humid, soul-suckingly boring treadmill. I'll live with the chapped hands and cracked lips. But, in rehabbing my knee, I needed a flat, forgiving surface to enter back into the world of runnerdom. In essence, I had no choice.
So for three days, I dug out my summer running clothes, drove to the gym, peeled of my warmups and in place I ran.
...Because there are only so many treadmills and apparently very few people enjoy running outside in the cold. So you have to wait. There's a whiteboard and marker where you write your name down and the time your frustration began. The rule goes that if someone is waiting, the people on the treadmill have a 30 minute time limit. More clarification is needed, however. Is it 30 minutes total? So if I'm at 25 minutes, do I have to get off in five minutes? Or is it 30 minutes from the time the name goes up? The latter is how most would argue it, but just to make sure, you'll see the treadmillers discretely slide something over the timer.
Another counterpoint to running on the treadmill: I have yet to wait for someone to finish so that I can go run outside. I'm just saying.
Finally, 32 minutes later, I'm up. The motor starts to whir. The conveyor belt begins to turn. My music ramps up as I start the slow jog and wait for the treadmill pace to catch up to my prescribed setting. A couple seconds later, I'm off and "running," sort of.
I have other runners on either side of me with maybe a three foot gap. The treadmills face the window, which looks out over the woods and the covered pool. But that doesn't matter, because it's night and the only thing to stare at is yourself in the reflection of the window or steal creepy, judging glances at the runners on either side of you.
I don't need to see myself running. I don't need to see every other step how my right foot kicks up and out to the side and is probably some of the cause for my ITBS. I don't need to obsess about that for 15-20-30 minutes. I also don't need to stress about taking one misstep and ending up tangled in the adductor machine. Plus, I have yet to get a treadmill that is in front of a TV. So it's just me and...me.
Another treadmill rule: do not make fist pumps, hand gestures, or air-drumming without expecting to get funny looks from those around you.
Apparently I do all of these things while running. The rub is that when you're outside, alone, no one else is there to see you do these things...and judge. When a good tune comes on, sometimes certain parts of said song are fist pump worthy. When U2's "Desire" comes on, there's a slight pause after the intro and Bono let's out a breathy, "Yeaaah." I like to say the "Yeaah." Aloud. I also like to do the rock scream at the beginning of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus' "You Better Pray." I don't actually scream but there's a fist pump and my mouth is open as if I'm screaming. I've also been known to throw in a little drum solo.
Let's review: outside? Fine. Inside? Funny looks from the girl next to you, who's passing the time reading her "People" magazine. I'm sorry, I can't read and run at the same time...and I'm willing to venture a guess that you can't either but you don't want the person who just put their name up on the whiteboard to see that you've been at it for 22 minutes. But I know.
Now, back to where we started (which on a treadmill is always the same place). Rule number 1. Let's be honest. We're runners. We have a rich, fiber-filled diet. When I'm outside, I don't think twice about sputtering along. In fact, my running partner and I were doing that in front of one another on only our second run together.
When you take your game inside, well, the rules change. You can't let one slip and just run away from it. And, good luck cinching that in while you're pounding away. I'm of course writing in abstract terms here. This has not actually, errr, happened to me. But if it did, I would imagine several noses twitching, maybe some disgusted sidelong glances -- that don't last too long because you don't want to risk getting twisted and falling -- and of course some grand arm gestures to try and fan one away. Drum solos are perfect for this. Again, I'd imagine.
Thankfully, I returned outside today. My wife and I ran around the 4.5 mile loop around Burke Lake. While I wasn't completely pain free, I'd call it a success. So much so that I will only be returning to the gym next week to lift weights.
I ended today's run with a huge fist pump...and I didn't care who saw me do it.