The Fun Dome (#15): T is for Torture

T is for torture. T is also for treadmill. So, by the transitive property, treadmills are torture. But, sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to avoid them.

I can neither confirm nor deny I’m in a situation like this right now:

I have been so desperate to avoid the treadmill here that I ran alongside an underground train to a concrete drainage ditch in the median of a fourlane highway that fed to a busy road with no shoulders. But today it rained. That drainage ditch would be knee-deep. So, the dreaded stationary ribbon of doom awaited my footsteps. And I submitted like a man sent out to dig ditches (drainage ditches maybe?) with a chain gang. In medieval times there was a torture called being “broken on the wheel.” While on the T-mill, I feel like those victims and wish someone would give me a coup de grace. Right on the back of the nugget.

I’m not afraid of rain and snow. But I’ve got limits. Running in the dark just sucks. Icy roads aren’t really safe. I hate running near cars. Temperatures in the hundreds are absurd. Once in a while, the outdoor running involved inbound mortars and rockets. Sometimes, on my vacations to the Middle East, the dust and dump fire smoke was so thick it set off smoke alarms in your hooch. So, the environment forces you onto the treadmill. Have. To. Run.

I can’t stand running outside with earbuds plugged into my head. I tried it a couple of times twenty years ago. Didn’t like it. (Probably because it was a Walkman or Discman and weighed ten pounds.) I like to hear what’s going on around me. Isn’t that the point of “going outside to play” anyway? Hearing saved my bacon a couple of times. I heard the screeching tires and dove into the ditch to escape getting squished. Safety is a way of life, you know, not just a program.

On a treadmill, however, I have to listen to something. Watching the TV news is worse than watching a video of your own root canal. That doesn’t help pass the time. Watching movies is okay, but I’m not usually looking for a two hour session on a treadmill. (Although, I have done that before in a sparsely populated Denver gym. I got some weird looks.) The best thing for me is to listen to podcasts. I listen to “The Writer’s Almanac” and “The New Yorker: Fiction.”  I can usually make it through an hour of easy loping by listening to stories and words.

Listening material comes first. The second thing that helps me pass the time is to shake up the run. I do intervals on the treadmill. Just running a steady speed is pretty monotonous, even with good listening material. So, putting in a hard run, especially several mile or half-mile intervals, works pretty well. It’s a double-edged sword, though. If I run intervals, I can’t listen to spoken words. I can’t focus. I have to hear some tunes. High energy stuff.

If you haven’t seen the movie High Fidelity, immediately stop what you’re doing and watch it. If you used to spend hours browsing in record stores in the 80’s, you’ll like it.

In the movie, the store employees keep coming up with “Top Five” lists of records. Top Five songs about death. Top Five “Side Ones.” So, in the spirit of the movie, here are my Top Five Treadmill Torture Tunes. Songs to sync up with your 5 x 4-minute intervals on the treadmill. Oh, and science:

What songs work for you?

Honorable Mention: Forty Six and Two by Tool, Guerrilla Radio and Renegades of Funk by Rage Against the Machine, Monumental Holiday by Dead Sara, I Am Superman by REM, Ultraviolence by New Order, Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd; The Metal, History, Tribute, and Master Exploder by Tenacious D, Jerusalem from Chariots of Fire soundtrack. (Do you really want me to keep going? There’s more where these came from.)

Top Five Treadmill Torture Tunes

5) The Who – Eminence Front. Maybe not what you’d expect, but it’s hypnotic, which helps.

4) Peter Gabriel – San Jacinto. I used to put this cassette in my Walkman before racing in high school. Still get chills at 3:33 when he says, “I hold the line. The line of strength that pulls me through the fear.”

Stumbled into this cool version also:

3) Foo Fighters – All My Life. Because they’re the last rock’n’roll band on earth. Don’t even start with me. 3:30 gets you through the last few meters.

2) Cake – The Distance. “Bowel shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse, assail him, impale him, with monster truck force.” Extra points for the running themed video.

1) Low – Canada. These local legends rock. And who doesn’t like a video with the DECC in it?








2 Responses to The Fun Dome (#15): T is for Torture

  1. Jon W says:

    I have never submitted to the T. Stationary bike is my method of indoor torture. I knew you’d put Cake’s tune up there, I think it is #1 for getting your through. I also like Sister’s of Mercy Floodland, so does Putin.

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