I’ve been running (or jogging, if you will) on and off for the last 15-ish years. It’s never been a very serious effort, though, I’ve still to start in a race, and I very much doubt that I’ll ever do. Neither have I had any wild goals, the main one has been to be able to run a 10K in less than one hour. Still, it’s been an effective way to stay reasonably fit, and that’s something that should be prioritized. At least if you’re in my shoes; slowly creeping towards the 40-year-old mark, and with a job where I’m mostly sitting or standing up all day.
When we lived in Oslo, the majority of my exercise needs was covered by biking to and from work every day. I’m a sucker for statistics, and in 2010 started to log every kilometer using Endomondo. For a couple of years, all was well. I covered quite a few kilometers every year, mainly on my bike, but also though a little bit of running, as illustrated by this fuzzy, yet handy chart:
Orange is cycling, the dark and light greens are running. As is quite obvious from the graph, my exercise time took a nasty plunge when we left Oslo and moved across the fjord to Nesodden. Taking my bike to work isn’t an option anymore; it’s a good 50 kilometers (~31 miles) each way. Biking on Nesodden’s roads is borderline suicidal anyway. They are narrow, winding, hilly, and there is only a question of time before a full blown war erupts between drivers and cyclists.
So the only real option was to start running regularly. As is also clear from the graph is that my jogging efforts were far from successful. I managed to get out once a week for parts of the year, but when the rain poured and the temperature started to approach 0 degrees Centigrade, it got really hard to motivate myself to put on my jogging shoes and get out there.
The solution? Enter the treadmill. At around $1,200 it was crazy expensive, but so far it’s been a success. It’s inside, not affected by weather, wind, and temperature, and getting into my shoes and shorts to run a few kilometers now takes very little effort. In the two months since we bought the treadmill, I’ve covered 110 kilometers (~68 miles), a distance which isn’t terribly impressive, but it’s most likely 110 kilometers more than I would’ve ran if we didn’t have the treadmill. And I’m just 10 kilometers shy of my total from last year.
I’m only running 5K each sessions, and I’m currently just running 2 times a week, occasionally 3. But the ultimate goal is to run 10K every other day. I’m not sure how realistic it is, but I’ve heard that goals are good.
There are a couple of downsides to running on a treadmill compared to outside, though. First of all, it can potentially be freakishly boring. Your legs are moving, but you’re stationary, with the same, static view for the entire run. We’ve mitigated that by using and old Android tablet for TV series and movies. Secondly, running on the treadmill doesn’t yield the same amount of exercise data that running outside does: No map plots, no elevation data, and no speed data, except for average speed. But I can live with that, I can still use my heart rate monitor, and that’s one of the most interesting data sets anyway. What worries me the most, though, is that I can’t really be sure if I’m actually running 5K, and if I’m running it at the speed the treadmill shows. Maybe I didn’t run 5K at an average speed of 12.2 km/h today, perhaps it was actually 4K at 10 km/h?
There’s no way to tell, really, and I’m basically at the mercy of the treadmill manufacturer. But one thing is for sure: I’m not getting in worse shape. At least as long as I don’t trip and fall. There are many different kinds of pain, and I’m sure tripping on a treadmill at 12 km/h ranks in the top ten. So fingers crossed.
By the way, if you’re not exercising regularly already, I suggest you read Wikipedia’s article on physical exercise. And then go for a walk.