Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hampster Wheel

I'm not yet used to these shorter days. I prefer to run in the evenings, when busy families are shuffling kids to and from various practices, cooking dinner and running around with other errands.

I like changing out of my work clothes, lacing up my shoes and using the miles to get away the stress of everyday life and out of work-mode.

But lately I can't seem to keep up with the diminishing daylight. I can no longer take my time when I get home from work.

Yesterday was no exception.

Sometimes when I know I'll lose the daylight battle, I just decide to skip the run. But with the Maine Half Marathon next weekend, I thought I should try to get some miles in.

So I headed to the gym. Unfortunately.

Don't get me wrong... I really like the gym. I like the cross training. I like trying my hand at weights. I love people-watching.

But a gym run is not a relaxing run for me. With 17 television screens flickering in front of me, the whir of the cardio marchines and the chit-chat of gym buddies around me, I can't just lose myself in the run ... can't let my mind go and get into a rhythm where the miles pass easily.

In an attempt to drown out the gym sounds, I cranked my iPod last night and started out slowly on the treadmill. I couldn't believe when I looked down at the display screen and it had only been a little more than a mile.

I felt like I'd been running forever. And I was sweating like crazy.

I missed the smell of the fresh air, the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, the changing scenery and even the challenge of dodging cars driven by distracted drivers.

In the end, I got my four miles in -- and noticed that gym runners don't run as long as outside runners -- and felt good about not skipping that run.

I just hope not to have too many Hampster Wheel nights in my future.

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