A lot of “soul runners” tend to be outdoor runners and most of them claim that outdoor running is the end-all-be-all of running places. I mean really, how often do you hear about a great marathon that happens indoors? Location seems to be a very important factor in the enjoyment of a runner. As with most sports, weather plays a huge role in a person’s running experience. Also the regimented pace that a treadmill forces you into, isn’t some people like to have hanging over them. From what I had heard, I didn’t believe that someone could reach a Zen-like state while running on a treadmill, but after three weeks of steady treadmill runs freshly in my mind, I believe that you indeed can reach a state of Zen while running in place.
For me, location, aka, the gym with daycare, is the perfect place to jump on the treadmill and run. Where else can you have the distraction of running in front of televisions on the wall sometimes can be a blessing. Running on a treadmill let’s you run non-stop. Since the average runner is running in urban settings, this eliminates the issue of traffic and other obstacles in their way. As much as I like to run outdoors and take in the scenery, letting my mind be distraction free, unless I want it to be distracted, for long distances, outweighs location.
As with location, the weather plays a huge role in someone’s running experience. Running indoors at the gym illuminates the need to worry about what the weather will be like. Air conditioning and fans make my running experience the same every time. Not having to worry about rain or snow or mud or dirt eliminates most of the wear and tear on my running shoes. Yes there is mileage put on them, but most of my shoes get worn out due to the elements. Indoor running creates a very controlled environment that leaves the runner with fewer distractions.
The regimented pace of a treadmill to some can be a hindrance, but for me it takes the work out of paying attention to my pace. Letting the treadmill do the work is something that I really love. The “set it and forget it” way that a treadmill works takes the guess work out my run for me. Having a pace to follow, at least for me, helps me push myself to faster speeds. In the last few weeks I’ve gone from an 11:30 mile to a 10:30 mile just by using a treadmill. Technology in general is created to make our lives easier. The technology of a treadmill wasn’t made on a whim. The person that invented this knew that if someone was going to be able to use it, they’d be worried about pace and speed and the way that it calculates your speed on command is something that I really find helpful when dealing with all the other distractions during a run. _
If you take into consideration all the perks of running on a treadmill you indeed CAN reach a Zen-like state while running on a treadmill. While I’ve enjoyed some great locations to run through, location follows the adage of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For me a static place to run fits my needs on a daily basis. Without weather to worry about, your mind can relax. The technology of a treadmill takes the guess work and brain strain out of running. Clearing the “Monkey Mind” as the Buddhists call it can be difficult no matter where you run, but for me I find that the treadmill removes location, weather, and pace issues. With fewer things to concentrate on, running on a treadmill lets me clear my thoughts more easily than surface running, letting me reach a state of Zen. _
— I was inspired to write this entry after reading a runner’s world article. http://www.runnersworld.com/sports-psychology/find-zen-through-running