elliptical thoughts (or, plight of the injured runner)

A song sinks into my ears and my brain and I love it. The first three minutes are a euphoric release, just me and the motion of my legs and the idea of just breezing through this enjoying my favorite music.

Then- oh no, not this one.

I hit skip on my ancient iPod.

Am I the only one that still uses these? I don’t even know how to put music on a phone.

Alright, so today isn’t going to fly by. When does time spent on a machine, ever?

Hips even, steady, making sure not to drop the left in, it’s weaker.

Get stronger.

Look how grey that wall is.

I wonder if they painted it that way on purpose, if there’s an “inspirational grey” shade.

There are apparently 50 shades of grey. That should be one of them.

Why isn’t the elliptical near the window? How come the treadmills get that prime real estate? I can’t run on those because I’m injured. Should I be punished and forced to stare at the wall? No, it should be the opposite, the injured athletes should at least get a good view, right? Or is it doing my time, because I ran too hard, too much, too long and put myself in this position?

I feel like a loser. Nowhere makes me feel this way quite like the gym. Not that all gym goers are losers. But the gym is not my thing.

I feel as if I’ve unwittingly fallen prey to the idea that hanging out in an air conditioned room with headphones blocking out all distractions is the best way to exercise

No wonder people can’t stick with their gym memberships-

it’s not natural.

Natural is fresh air, breathing in whatever comes your way.

Hills and inclines that intrude because of the trail or the road, not because you’ve hit the level up button on a touchscreen monitor.

I don’t feel injured.

Can’t I run yet?

Stupid injury.

Stupid hip, stupid back, stupid other hip.

Stupid years of running with poor form I never knew about.

I should be grateful-

I caught it, I learned from it, yada yada yada. I know. Truly, I know.

But damn, that grey wall now.


Has it only been 9 minutes?

I feel like a hamster, going nowhere.

I pretty much am.

But my thoughts are pinwheeling, turning cartwheels and somersaults because I’m still moving, distanced even from the distractions of the road and the changing terrain.

Indeed, I have ONLY my thoughts

against the grey wall.

It’s hard to tear my eyes from the screen counting down the seconds to the end of the hour. 49:11. 49:10. 49:09.

It seems I’ll have 49 minutes to go for a year and a day.

48:59 doesn’t even register.

Try and force my brain to go elsewhere-

what would happen if…?

Start to daydream and lose myself to it

have to bring my mind back to the machine

the elliptical because I’m here to keep my hips level, activate my glutes, can feel the machine clonking beneath me which means I’ve lost form and have to return myself to the present, me, the machine, the grey wall.

Finally nearing 30:00 and considering slicing the workout in half, but

I want this, the endurance

this mental madness is good for me, I know it, though it drives me insane.

Mental toughness, strength, stamina.

My goal is the marathon

a fast one


so I had better stick it out

my endless battle with this

damn elliptical machine and this

damned grey wall.

I wonder what goes on in my neighbor’s head, she of the hot pink t-shirt taking selfies while chatting into her earbuds and somehow still working up a sweat.

I try not to judge but so much of the gym is ridiculous.

Sometimes I train at 11pm because I work weird hours but need to keep my cardiovascular endurance alive, and I’m joined only by 3 macho men with ripped and bulging arms but no life in their eyes, no conversation or music. Just gymgymgym for goals that don’t seem to bring them any joy, any happiness at all.

I want to shake these zombies, get outside, go for a run, free yourself from the need to look “perfect” and find something that’s actually real.

Perfect isn’t real and one day you’ll grow old and weak anyway and then would you rather have spent your fitness capacity trying to look like you drank steroid shakes or achieving something, fast times or winning games or making friends out of teammates?

At long last the clock ticks away, my endless thoughts tiring it out, runs down to 0:00

Released, I wipe down the machine.

My neighbor is still chatting into her earphones.

Goodbye, grey wall. Thanks for the company.

Until tomorrow.

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