I’m doing this thing, on a treadmill. I’m not entirely sure where the motivation came from, but one day it wasn’t there and the next it was. Everything felt right and I’ve learned over the years to kick the door open when it starts to crack.

I haven’t felt much motivation to run, let alone train, for anything in particular, in part because I’ve been so consumed by a job that is both deeply rewarding and deeply time consuming. Although my days are supposed to end at 3:30, I never knew if I would be staying until 4, 5, or even 8. Running in the midst of such irregularity is a problem for me. “Run like a clock” the saying goes, and as soon as my scheduled time to be out the door passes I’m like a balloon popped and deflated. For months I would get out every so often, sometimes a few times a week, sometimes only on Saturdays, sometimes not at all…for weeks at a time. The thought of leaving work and changing into running clothes and running some lonely pathway in the winter dark sounded like the most psychologically torturous idea ever. Even if I could find the excitement to run for a day or so, the idea of doing that continuously, non-stop, like the old days, wasn’t even a humorous consideration. But as things go, I couldn’t stop running entirely.

Then for whatever reason, the idea of getting a Y membership and running on a treadmill came to me. It was as simple as that. Just get the membership and then you have a place to run, around others, no matter the hour, no matter the weather. And I couldn’t find the excuse not to. I didn’t want to find the excuse honestly. I always did think it would be hilarious, and interesting, to train for a distance race solely on a treadmill, just to see how it would translate. With that idea in mind, I found myself on an endless stretch of rubber, throwing sweat on people dumb enough to run next to me, staring down a wall of TV’s, figuring out how I was going to psychologically pass the time so I didn’t keep looking at the mileage. And it worked. One week at 5 miles a day, then another week at 6 miles a day and now into the third week at 8 miles a day and I’m still looking forward to getting back to a base of 10er’s and begin throwing in speedwork.

I don’t have a race I’m training for yet as I’m still enjoying the buildup, but I’m sure the impetus to throw down on the streets will hit me as my fitness increases. I’m not trying to look too far ahead though, because I’m trying not to get too invested in the excitement of finding this training passion again. I don’t know what to expect really, being out of the competitive mindset for so long, and putting all my training on a machine, but maybe that unknown is all part of this excitement. A decade of running can get a little monotonous,  and you’ll see runners often try to switch things up to keep that initial excitement going. So I guess this treadmill thing is my way of switching it up, and although it’s ridiculous, that’s where I thrive. Like running in freezing rain, or 39 miles on my 39th birthday, or any number of absurd things I’ve done with my running just to keep things interesting.

So here I am on a spinning strip of rubber, throwing sweat on anything nearby, and loving it. The full parameters I’ve set are that I have to run at least 4 days a week on the treadmill, specifically the two speed workouts and long run, but I allowed some wiggle room for running with friends or hitting the trails. Otherwise it’s putting in serious work and getting nowhere, literally.

I haven’t ever wanted the fire to die down, and even when I tried to snuff it out it remained persistent. I think this last time I really thought running might fade into the distance, too far out of reach, disappeared in the shadow of a job that fulfilled me every day, but that lack of warmth was only temporary, like a trick birthday candle. Before I knew it the heat was under me again and this new attempt to find accomplishment took over yet again. And, of course, the reward still remains more fulfilling than anything I’ve ever taken on. I love my job and I love everything going on in my life, but still, nothing replaced how running makes me feel. I’m just psyched this is all coming together again, and for what seems like forever, I’m back to days filled with little more than the duality of work and running and work and running and work and running. I haven’t been here in quite sometime and I’m glad the fire didn’t just stay warm, but got hot.

Let’s go press that start button.

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