Treadmill Swindles the Unwary Jogger

Arrived at the gym half an hour later today, after a meeting that went on a bit, and found myself on the Treadmill of Lies. Usually, early enough to beat the lunchtime rush, I have my pick of treadmills and choose one between Snail’s-Pace Lady and Dr Ancient Sinews, one of whom has apparently spent his entire life training for a marathon and takes no notice of me, a lowly part-time jogger still with flesh on my bones, and the other who looks like every long second is a private torment and has more than enough to think about already, poor love.

No such luck today: all the treadmills were full when I arrived so I had to pretend to cycle for a few minutes before one became free and I nabbed it. Then I realised it was the Treadmill of Lies: the machine that, for some reason, moves much slower than the rest so convinces you that you’re running faster and further than you really are. Perhaps that is its purpose, and it should instead be called the Treadmill of Misplaced Optimism? My standard speed is around 6.5 (the hard-run speed); today I bounced along at 8.7 and apparently ran three miles in 22 minutes. I would be delighted if this were true (and, in fact, was delighted for a nanosecond), but it most likely wasn’t. Still, I am encouraged by the fact that I’m now running for 25 minutes without cardiac arrest – I had decided to stop at (fake) three miles but oddly can’t bring myself to stop on a random number of minutes – so some progress is being made.

Sometimes I wonder whether I might like to run outside, gym ceilings not being as interesting as they used to be, but I think the treadmill suits me for several reasons: 1) it keeps me running at a constant pace throughout, something I’d find impossible to judge by myself; 2) cold air tearing my lungs ragged is my worst memory from school cross-country – inside there’s no change in temperature, no wind, no rain, no mess on my pretty trainers; and 3) in the gym almost everyone looks as sweaty and dishevelled as me, Dr Sinews aside of course. After today’s run the only normal skin tone left on my face was a thin line of white around my lips. I looked like a hypothermia victim, only with a red palette instead of blue.

Attempted ‘creamy potatoes’ tonight for tea: despite the short list of ingredients (Cream. Potatoes. Cheese if you’re feeling a bit flavoursome) managed to make a bit of a mess of it. Too much cream, not enough cheese, potatoes not cooked long enough. Al-dente heart-attack in a bowl, in short. Thank goodness black pepper’s fairly one-dimensional in scope or I would’ve messed that up as well. Tim was kind and said that was how it was supposed to be, but his praise lacked the ringing conviction of toad-in-the-hole night. For every one step forward taken in this cooking venture, I invariably take two back. If only we were allowed roast dinners every night, I’d be laughing. Who did that? Oh yes, rich Victorians. Why can’t we be some of them?

Tim and I circa 1850 (image from

Tim and I circa 1850 (image from

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