Finding compassion on the treadmill

March became a whirlwind month. There was hockey. There’s always hockey for me. But there also was high school basketball and the NCAA tournament. In baseball terms, I’d be a utility player, able to play multiple positions adequately enough to keep a roster spot. After keeping track of what sport I was covering and what city I was in (something which sounds much more glamorous than it is, trust me) I had to figure out how to keep up with my training.

In Raleigh, N.C., I decided to use the hotel treadmill to knock out a track workout. I have done all of my traditional track work on the treadmill this year. I started out on the treadmill because the weather was icky. For the record, the weather still is icky (happy winter storm warning on April 3 Western New York!), but I’ve found that I’m much truer to my paces on the treadmill, at least over shorter distances. The treadmill has kept me honest and hopefully helped create some mental toughness.

The treadmill in this instance was necessary and I went down to the tiny hotel gym on this particular morning to find both treadmills occupied.


I posted my frustration on Facebook which led to two responses:

  1. First World Problems
  2. Go out side and run

Let’s tackle the criticism that I should have gone outside to run. In theory I could have done this, but I did not pack my GPS-enabled watch and I really did want to get my track intervals done. But even if I had packed my GPS-enabled watch, the hotel was situated on a four-lane highway next to a mall. Sorry kids. I do have some personal safety limits. Running on a busy highway? Not for me.

And yes, this truly was one of those “first-world problems.” This was not at all about survival. In the grand scheme, this mattered really not at all. I understood that even in the moment, but the moment still was humorous to me. Really? It’s 6:30 a.m. and people are on both treadmills? One woman was walking on her treadmill. I had hopes she would stop at 30 minutes, but she didn’t. She kept … walking.

Immediately I noticed the judgement.The nasty thoughts flew through my head. I want to get my track intervals done because I’m training for a marathon. You’re just walking. Really? Does that even count?  Then I smiled and softened my heart. No really. I thought about softening my heart. Because what that woman was doing was just as valuable as what I was doing. She had every right to walk on the treadmill and get the most out of her workout. Mentally I sent “blessings” to her. Shortly after she turned to me and said she had five more minutes. No problem.

Perhaps the first-world problem isn’t so much about waiting for the treadmill as it the way in which we approach waiting for the treadmill. I may never stop judgmental thoughts from flowing through my brain, but I can recognize them and choose something different. That’s something which I believe transcends every socio-economic class.

The training continues for my race season, dedicated to raising money for the homeless women of Carolyn’s House. With the help of the staff, these women (and often their children) get the support they need to regain hope and the tools necessary for them to become self-sufficient. Please consider a donation which goes directly to funding programs which help women determine their own path in life.

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