I have a love-hate relationship with the gym.
It’s not working out I dislike. It’s the cardio machines. They represent the opposite of one of my favorite things about running, summed up by this Jesse Owens quote: “I always loved running. It was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”
Today, the “blustery” 20-degree weather forecasted earlier this week came to pass (blustery is actually a pretty great adjective to describe today — nice job, National Weather Service!). After losing the feeling in my fingers during a short bike ride to do some errands, I was driven inside, to the stationary bike in the little fake gym inside our building.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that working out on an electrical machine is basically the opposite of exercising by yourself, under your own power. It isn’t seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and courage of your lungs so much as burying your nose in a book to forget the fact that you are, in fact, going nowhere on a piece of electrical machinery. UGH.
But here’s the positive part of this blog post (I promise there is one!): I did 45 minutes on the bike, and while I didn’t get quite the warm fuzzies I do after a good run, I felt doubly proud of myself for doing something healthy when I desperately didn’t feel like it. As I got warmed up, I reminded myself that biking today would a) save my joints and muscles from two days of pounding in a row, b) strengthen muscles running doesn’t, and c) make some bike ride down the road easier because I trained today. It also let me finish one book I’ve been working on for a while and start another that will probably end up being the subject of another blog post on another day. It’s “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. The theme: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Brilliant advice for us runners, who are easily wooed by Gatorade G2 and Power Gels (not that I’m giving these up during long runs … I’m just saying.)
Here’s how I powered through a stationary bike workout I didn’t wanna do: I did a 45-minute interval workout based on a playlist that alternated Bob Marley songs with hip-hop party anthems. During the Bob Marley songs, I turned the resistance on the bike down to 12 and read my book(s). During the fast songs, I put the book down and cranked the resistance to 14. Despite all the bitching about not wanting to bike inside, I was honestly surprised so much time had passed when I checked the bike’s digital readout.
Tomorrow’s a swimming day,which I’m looking forward to immensely. Another thing I’m looking forward to immensely: Warmer weather!