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30 August 2006

Ran on a treadmill for the first time yesterday. What a horrible device. The gym in any circumstances is not a pleasant place, but at least lifting weights can't be done elsewhere; and there is something pleasantly meditative and removed in listening to music and working my muscles just enough to feel limber and prepared again. Swimming, too, is not possible anywhere else. But running -- running is for the outdoors -- to see the world, run by people . . . but the treadmill -- right under a bank of fluorescent lights -- a screen two feet from eyes -- it felt gross . . . as if I was being shaped by the worst aspects of the gym -- the substitution of routine for play and the natural working of muscles, and the desire to go not just to feel physically better, but to look a particular way. The guinea pig aspects. And when I run, I like to eat the distance with my strides, to lope like I imagine a wolf or tiger would -- weight landing on the balls of my feet, springing forward my with calves and the backs of my legs -- when I finally hit my rhythym the muscles are not tired, they are a given, and the run becomes a voyage, breath and mind and skin absorbing the surrounding world.

It didn't help that I couldn't quite get the hang of running on the treadmill. But I also suspect that treadmills just aren't made for long strides.