Why My Treadmill Workout Is My Savior

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.


One pro to having my treadmill in the sunroom: enjoying my children's artwork.

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.

My treadmill's new home, feeling renewed.

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.

Always worth it.


Are you a treadmill fan? Or hater? Why?

25 responses to “Why My Treadmill Workout Is My Savior

  1. I’ve joined team treadmill! I used to HATE it, but since we inherited one when we bought our house, it has given me so much more freedom to be consistent and no excuses. My husband works lots of weird hours, so I can always count on running after toddler bed time. Not to mention, I am terrified of the dark and a pansy when it comes to cold – even living in the midwest my whole life… I love to play in snow but hate the cold! – so the treadmill saves me from all of that. When spring comes and hubby’s schedule normalizes a little more, sun is out, and temps are up, I will return outside but for now i love my treadmill!!!

  2. Absolutely hate the treadmill. Well, no, it’s fine for walking — even walking up steep inclines, but I just can’t run on it for more than a few minutes. It requires a certain kind of mental fortitude that I seem to lack. However, I love your blog entry here — fantastic writing!

  3. I am on Team Treadmill with you! I love mine, it was out of commission for a couple months while we were remodeling our basement and I truly missed it. No weather elements to contend with, no daylight/timing issues, and it gives me an excuse to binge watch Netflix (currently Gilmore Girls). Any miles are good miles, outside or inside!
    Love reading your columns 🙂

  4. I find my treadmill brought out the worst in my PF… so I gave it to a loving home…. that said, my miles were much more consistent with it… no snow drifts here but daylight savings time and an overprotective hubbie keeps my running opportunities limited. Love the series….

  5. This was so well-written & I loved it!
    I generally don’t like the treadmill, but only b/c I have little mental strength. And I certainly couldn’t run on a treadmill that faces a wall! hahaha <3

  6. I’m on Team Treadmill too. Yeah, sometimes it is a little boring to log hours on it and yes, I would I rather be outside. But it is a tool that keeps me moving when otherwise I couldn’t due to schedule, winter road conditions and family circumstances. You can love your treadmill even if you don’t always like it (kind of like certain family members). Love this series Denise XO.

  7. I have a love/hate relationship my treadmill that is mostly LOVE. As someone who person would perceive to be “fast” but am actually crazy slow, I get super intimidated in group settings. If the weather is cool I can run outside, but often not until late in the evening once the kiddos are in bed. My treadmill allows me to run when it best fits my schedule and doesn’t judge me for my slow pace and multiple walk breaks. Plus it’s when I allow myself to watch my favorite trashy TV shows. I would be lost without it!

  8. I have always called it the ‘dreadmill’. But I am changing my mind set. Yes, I prefer my morning run outside in the fresh air and sun. But it’s dark and cold now. I’ve been telling myself to appreciate that I can go to Planet Fitness at 5:30am where it is light and bright and there are lots of people (not that I talk to anyone, other than my husband) and I can run my pace and not feel like I am slowing my husband down. A treadmill is a good thing at this point! Good article, Denise!

  9. I have a love/hate relationship with my treadmill. I love that I have it- I don’t have to worry about running in the dark or in bad weather. I also love that it forces me to run a certain pace (I am terrible at self-pacing) and I feel I can nail my workouts better. I hate it that it is always there and takes always the excuses (okay I love that part too but sometimes you just don’t want to go).

  10. I’ve been picked on for it, too, but it’s my favorite thing, for all the reasons everyone has listed. Thanks for letting us out of the closet!

  11. I love my treadmill runs! I trained for my PR half marathon last winter/spring exclusively on the TM. I like the ability to structure my tempo and speed work runs on the TM. I am also have a group of people at the gym to socialize with on some of my longer runs. I am also lucky enough to have a used (Craigslist) TM at home – that has helped me keep up my “at least a mile a day” running streak for two years.
    Thanks Denise for a great post!

  12. Hi, my name is Beth, and I’m a treadmill-o-holic.
    The treadmill that sits in my basement is the ONLY reason my husband and I are both runners. We live in a location with narrow, winding, hilly roads, and no shoulder. It would add at least an hour to every workout to drive to a safe location to run. My husband who works crazy hours gets up at 4:30 to run so that he gets it done before the day derails him. And the treadmill gives me the freedom to get my workout in at odd hours, which is sometimes required being self-employed.
    Is it hard to run on the treadmill? Mentally, yes. But you know what? I think it makes me a better, tougher, BAMR!

  13. I love my treadmill. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather run outside. But I am in WI too and some days, it just doesn’t work to run outside .My husband also works shifts and I missed so many workouts before we bought one for our basement. Now I can run whenever I want and answer to no one. It is in my own place and I am still working on setting up the area. But it is my best friend and I am sure it will save me a lot this winter!

  14. I love the treadmill because I know I am close to the bathroom! Silly, but I am that person who panics if I don’t know where the next one is. At my age, you have to plan.

  15. This post made me so happy – someone who feels like I do! I love my treadmill because I don’t like running in the dark by myself. I am clumsy and trip even with a headlamp! And I worry that my headlight makes me a target for any creepers out there. My treadmill is safe at 4:30 am. I usually only run outside on the weekends and I always look forward to the fresh air and a change of scenery. I think my treadmill makes me appreciate those outdoor runs with running friends!

  16. What a great article! Thank you so much! I love running outside but the winds are horrid in the winter. I opt for the treadmill for my short runs in the winter (when the weather is bad) but always try to do long runs outside. You are so right that so many people despise the dreadmill. I enjoy watching my IPAD. I watch TV when I seriously can’t find the time elsewhere. Plus, I watch series that I couldn’t watch when my kids are around (like The Affair on HBO). I also think that speed work is so awesome on a treadmill. I feel like I got a little faster last winter. Thanks again for your wonderful inspiring article. 🙂

  17. I love how you love your treadmill. My husband loves it too. Me, I will use it in a desperate situation, but I find it too easy to bail if I’m not up to it. That’s my major hang up with running inside. I love your will power to push through when I would just step off.

  18. I’m not crazy about it, but I consider it a necessity–because I actually still am in Wisconsin! 🙂 I do love some winter runs, but sometimes there’s just no way. So glad I have the option.

  19. First of all, I commend all you treadmill runners. I’m a treadmill hater. I will run in almost any weather. I have a desk job and I never have enough outside time. My husband is a treadmill lover. He trained for Boston almost exclusively on it. He gets plenty of outside time as he coaches xc running and skiing at our local college after his regular teaching job. He likes that he can do his specific work out and not have to worry about weather conditions.

  20. Reading this post on the phone while I stretch in my basement before I get on my treadmill. I agree fully with you!!

  21. I used to hate my treadmill, until I moved to a new place where it isn’t conducive to get a decent run in just outside my front door. I have to drive somewhere for a good route, and I don’t always have time for that. Plus, I also have a son with a health issue, and it’s good to be close by on days when the school calls because he needs me. My treadmill is convenient and always here for me. I’m pretty thankful for it!!

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