Welcome to our new column, "Room on the Road," by Denise Dollar, who you might know as the founder of Heart Strides, Denise uses this space to discuss her struggle with running and weight. Check out her previous posts here.
Blowing into my hands, my fingers already stiff, I shuffle from side-to-side, trying to stay warm. I wonder why I’m out here. If I was in Wisconsin right now I wouldn’t even be outside. I stop my internal whining and give thanks. Cold fingers and all.
It’s a small group today, moms like us, antsy to shake off a trying week filled with sick kiddos, holiday events and not enough hours in the day. There’s no pressure to be a certain pace or distance, but I always feel pressure.
To be clear: These are my people. The only pressure they put on me is to join them more often to move forward. Pace and distance? That’s the pressure I put upon myself, every single time. I’m not fast enough. I’m not going far enough.
Huddled together while waiting for the last mom to arrive, there’s talk of upcoming races. I get nervous, wondering how to interject my no I’m not training right now. I know they won’t care. But I care. It’s too much for me to say out loud right now. Hearing myself say I’m not training feels more like I’m not a runner.
The conversation bounces around from recipes to our new favorite running gear, and then it happens. The treadmill is brought into the loop. I hate the dreadmill. I’d rather die than run on the treadmill. I just can’t do it. Always a last resort. Always.
I look down at my feet. I don’t hate my treadmill, I think to myself. And while I don’t typically proclaim my love for the treadmill—it feels like admitting you eat white chocolate while binge watching Real Housewives—I feel the urge to give it my support.
I find my voice and mumble, I love my treadmill. No one says anything. I say it again. I LOVE my treadmill. That got their attention. What? How on earth do you do it? How boring! How can you take the treadmill over this?
Rambling on, explaining why I love it, which feels more like my day in court, knowing that I won’t sway the jury. Your honor, the treadmill is a fine piece of equipment and has saved my life on more than one occasion.
Those days that slip through my fingers, the days that are filled with more good intentions than free time, have been saved by my treadmill. Day or night, it’s always there. Granted, it’s not ideal to be getting my miles in at ten o’clock at night, but when I’ve promised myself to do something, anything, a few miles before bedtime are better than none.
Those days that I have to be accessible by phone if Logan’s (my son with Type I Diabetes) school needs to call me? I can’t thank my treadmill enough. Those days, when his blood sugar is all over the place, when my mind is racing with I hope he doesn’t crash after PE, I hope he remembers to go down to the health room and check his blood sugar, I hope he doesn’t get too low, I hope, I hope, I hope… those are the days that I can’t leave it all on the trail or the road. But I can leave it on the treadmill and know that if Logan needs me, I’ll be there as soon as I can.
Those days when I want to be invisible. When I am in disbelief that the bulge above my sports bra is fat. What is that? Is that really fat? That must be my shirt. It’s just a weird angle. No. It’s fat. When I just want to hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on my life. When my heart is heavier than my legs. Those are the days that I need saving.
The only problem with my treadmill? It shared a space close to my dining room. Recently, while sitting the dining room table, glancing over at it, I became angry. I’m not doing enough, I need to work out more, I’m lucky to have it, just do it.
Sitting there wrestling with old thoughts, trying to replace them with new ones, I had an epiphany.
Having the treadmill—something I loved, the one thing I called my own, my source of relief—in the same room where I ate was stressing me out.
I needed to separate the two. I needed them to each have their own space in my house and in my mind. I wanted to break up the fight between the guilt I felt when I wasn’t exercising and the guilt I felt when I was eating.
After much pleading with my husband, we moved the beast to our store room, and I honestly rejoice every time I turn it on. I am honestly excited to hear the hum of the track every single time.
During my treadmill workout, I don’t have to download my miles for the world to see. I can go when I want and as far as I want. My pace is my business and my business only. I can wear my too-tight capris without explanation. I feel no stress about keeping up or holding somebody back. Nobody is here to make me feel out of place—and I feel no judgment when I slow my jog to a walk.
That said, I’m see my treadmill in a new light as I take a closer look at my eating and exercising habits.
If it’s possible, I may love it a little too much. Is it throwing me off balance? Becoming my crutch? Something I lean on for strength, forgetting my own?
Maybe. But that’s a question for another day. Right now, I’m craving the whirl of my ‘mill and the solitude of my store room—and that’s one craving I’ll indulge guilt-free.