I'd rather be blogging than jogging

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been acquainting myself with a treadmill.

And I assure you, so far not so good. It has NOT been a pleasant experience.

Now, before I continue you should know that I’m not known for agility, grace or for being sporty.

The sportiest things I’ve ever done include being driven around at high speed in a wealthy date’s sports car. Oh, and I was actually appointed to the sports desk of a community newspaper in Johannesburg during my days as a cub reporter, believe it or not. The editors, the readers and I still wince collectively whenever that image is revisited, so I’d rather not elaborate. The risk of traumatising everyone all over again is too great.

Okay, fine. I admit. I DID go ten-pin bowling once. And I suppose you can even say that I did have a strike of sorts, because apart from me, no one else in the history of that particular South African bowling alley has EVER managed to let go of the ball right as their arm was fully extended… backwards. (I don’t know if they’ve managed to fix that hole in the wall next to the counter where you get those snazzy bowling shoes. It was quite a hole! I couldn’t understand everyone’s irritation surprise. Then again, with such a heavyweight ball, what sort of damage did they expect?)

No, I’m definitely not sporty. In fact, I relate all too much to a character in a television commercial that used to be aired here in the USA, in which a guy who is reclining on his couch says something like: "Sure I’m sporty. I fish."

Well, no, I don’t even fish… but you get my drift.

Unfortunately there comes a time in everybody’s lives when one’s (in my case, alleged) metabolism slows down - like now, when one is thirty years and a few days old - and the effects of gravity speeds up. (And the latter, sadly, is just about the only thing that speeds up!)

So one needs exercise.

I’ve always considered the commute up- and downstairs from my bedroom to the refrigerator here at home to be a stiff (and completely sufficient) workout. Then I noticed the effects of Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery in the mirror one day. I passed out from shock and the next thing you know – when I came to it again – there was a treadmill in my life.

Just like that.

We wearily scouted each other out first, that treadmill and I. (No need to rush into these things. Besides, anything with the word mill at the end of it promises to lead to great unpleasantness and evil. For example: Puppy-mill.)

Always one to approach things intellectually (don’t smirk like that!), I read the accompanying literature first, which came in the form of warranties (although, I have to point out, they don’t guarantee that you’ll make it out of the experience alive!) and instructions.

The instructions basically read: Plug it in, position yourself on the treadmill, flip the switch to ON and run for your life. And the rest of the 200-page booklet contained a series of urgently marked warnings – in VERY small print, I might add – to tell you of all the possible ways you could injure and/or kill yourself.

I promptly dubbed it the D*R*E*A*D*M*I*L*L.

"But," giggled my best friend in Botswana when she heard about this new contraption of torture in my possession, "You can hardly put one foot in front of the other on DRY LAND without tumbling into manholes or tripping over tiny cracks in the pavement."

(With a friend like that… See why we live in different Hemispheres?)

Somehow encouraged even more, she continued: "I predict that you are going to shoot backwards like a cannon ball (or should I say a bowling ball?) the moment you set foot on the thing." Followed by evil laughter. "Whoa, ha, ha, ha, haaa!" (Okay, not really… but that preceding bit all happened on e-mail.)

With those words of support and faith in my inability, I started fretting about my severe lack of hand-eye-foot-brain coordination.

I may have told you before, I’m not good at doing two things simultaneously. Actually, I often have trouble keeping my wits about me while performing merely ONE task!

The closest I ever come to multitasking is when I’m daring enough to eat in front of the television, and even then it’s a toss-up between food somehow disappearing somewhere between the plate, the fork and my mouth, or – in the event that I successfully manage a bite – losing track of the plot of whatever is happening on television. (Charming picture, isn’t it?)

So I decided I had to do something to improve my basic motor skills before jumping onto (and being expected to keep up with) a machine with its own set of motor skills.

Thus I went back to cautiously observing it from afar for a few more weeks.

Finally, one day, during a surge of unexpected ambition (I was clearly on a caffeine high!) and a fit of temporary insanity ("fit" in that sense of the word is unfortunately the only definition that applies to me), I jumped on.

It was actually not so bad. I had a lovely stroll at about one mph (I didn’t want to risk a heart attack the very first time, see, by putting too much pressure on myself.).

After a series of successfully executed steps (without even holding onto the handlebars!), I became rather confident and cocky and decided to step it up a notch (so to speak) and speed that baby up.

A few miles per hour faster (no need in revealing the exact numbers, right?), and I nearly collapsed when I realised that I was actually breaking a sweat! (Believe me, considering my previous level of activity, it was indeed quite a sight. Not a good one, understand, but a true phenomenon – no matter how ugly. In fact, I think that’s about the time when I started looking like a hamster running inside one of those spinning wheels.)

"Sweating," I reckoned, "means that something positive must be happening in terms of my fitness level."

A few minutes later I looked down at all those flashing screens and things on the control panel (which closely resembles the instrument panel in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 and is about equally as complicated.).

"Whoo hoo!" I yelled. (Okay, to be honest, it was more like a gargling, heavy breathing noise emerging from my mouth at that stage.) "I’ve just ran FIVE miles!"

But that’s when I looked again and saw that FIVE was NOT the distance covered so far, but really the amount of calories burned.

Disheartened, disillusioned and not thinking clearly due to this newly inflicted trauma AND fatigue, I found and pressed Stop.

And that’s where the trouble started, because, although the tread stopped turning abruptly and immediately, my brain didn’t respond, and my legs kept right on going.

Now, what happened next is usually only explained in Physics textbooks (or is seen in horrible car crashes).

I fell off.

But no pain no gain, right?

I wish I could say that I got right back on (which is exactly what one is supposed to do after falling from horses or other abstract objects like bikes, but I didn’t, because no one has ever written such a rule to apply to treadmills). Besides, I had twisted an ankle, so the pain was real, even if the gain was not.

So, that’s the story of my brief but intense love affair with the treadmill so far.

For now, I’m nursing the ankle while still observing the D*R*E*A*D*M*I*L*L from afar. (Funny how all things, even relationships with not quite so inanimate objects as treadmills, always seem to come full circle.)

But meanwhile I’m not getting thinner, and this gravity issue doesn’t seem to be going away either, so you can be certain that this relationship isn’t at an end.

Needless to say, I’ll keep you posted.

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Redsaid says I'd rather be blogging than jogging:I’ve always considered the commute up- and downstairs from my bedroom to the refrigerator here at home to be a stiff (and completely sufficient) workout. Then I noticed the effects of Sir Isaac... Read More


martha said:

oh my goodness... I'm so sorry that the dreadmill attacked you like that. Was no one around to help?

Really though, you have an amazing ability to write out stories like this that make me almost spit food all over the computer because I'm laughing so hard.

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
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  • martha : oh my goodness... I'm so sorry that the dreadmill attacked you like that. Was no one around to help?... [go]
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