Saturday, May 22, 2010

Treadmill Buddies

I work at the front desk at a gym. I greet members as they come in, whether they say "hi" back or not is a different's cool though. My theory is it never hurts to check that my voice STILL sounds the same when I say "Hi, how's it going?"... a lot could change in the 30 seconds since I last said it.

Maybe because I'm familiar with the faces of members that come into the gym that's made me a bolder person in treadmill land? Or members aren't afraid to approach me when they are working out because at some point they've seen me working? All that I'm saying is I might have a slight advantage over the "Average Joe" in doing what I'm about to suggest.

I'm getting ahead of my self though.

Do you realize you're in an exclusive group? If you are reading this and have a blog of your're a "running blogger." Of the thousands/hundreds/handful that enter races...the majority of them don't go home and write about it. They upload a photo on Facebook (on a good day) and that's it. Through blogging I've connected with people that I absolutely WOULD NOT have brushed toes with at any race. Even if we lived in the same area we just do not have similar paces. And it's AWESOME.

I've touched on this before, but if you ever have to do a run on a gym treadmill....
there's a whole nother community just WAITING for you to tap into it. True there are some people that you probably won't learn much from...the magazine readers, the people that don't bother with workout clothes they are going so slowly on the treadmill, or that girl that drinks from a 2 liter bottle of soda while working out.

However, after a few months of working at the gym, I learned that some of the runners in treadmill land actually know each other. They say "hi" in passing...and catch up on races they each are training for. The gym I go to now is probably the 5th I've gone to regularly in the course of my life....and the first where I've taken the time to get to know people around me. More than likely if you work out at the same time, you're going to see the same people. And more than likely, even if you like to jam out to iTunes or stay in a "private zone" talking to someone for half a mile or mile will make your run go by a LOT faster. Even knowing the person next to you is reason to keep going if you want to quit. A "we're in this together" mentality that you only get with a running buddy.

I'm not sure how many treadmill buddies I have, but for sure four.
  • Buddy 1: A co-worker
  • Buddy 2: A guy who has run marathons but now sticks to halvsies.
  • Buddy 3: A girl who has her sites set on Boston. She's run a sub-four hour marathon, but currently has a few overuse injuries (runner's knee and ITBS) and is not training to BQ this year.
  • Buddy 4: A recovering smoker who now runs regularly.
[The crazy part is Buddy 2 and Buddy 3 are actually engaged. I had no clue since they never go to the gym together. I met them each individually and somehow they figured out they both talked to me when they were at the gym. They are both really nice, fast, and fans of me, so if that doesn't scream a future of happiness I don't know what does! ]

A lot of people loatheeee the dreadmill, but if you are forced to take your workout inside to a gym...I'd say it's worth it to strike up conversation with anyone who looks like they might be training for a race. Or getting back into working out. I do a lot of runs at the gym. If I'm there 4 days a week...even being able to run next to someone I know ONE of those times switches things up. It's nice because it's not a set meeting time, just a pleasant surprise. And pace doesn't matter whatsoever.

The other night I had planned on doing a 2 mile run. I saw Buddy 4 who was in the middle of a 5 mile run. He said "I'm dying right now"..and I told him I'd run 3 miles, since we'd finish about the same time. We talked for about a mile.

Simple right? Really beneficial. And not something to be scared of. Unlike this commercial.


MCM Mama said...

Back when I used to work, we had a gym in our building. I really got to know all the people who worked out there, which came in super handy when I was doing research and needed a source. I have no treadmill buddies right now as my treadmill is in my basement, but I love that I still run into random people on the road that I can run with for a part of my runs.

Anne said...

It's quite rare that I run on the treadmill except to do speed work, and I can't talk when I'm doing that :) I think it's a great idea though, I may just start looking around more when I go to the gym.

Adam said...

That is cool that you've made some new buddies at the gym.

Interesting, I used to belong to a gym but I rarely said anything to the people that I saw on a regular basis. Although, it was a lifetime fitness so it wasn't exactly a close atmosphere. Is your gym big or little?

Julie said...

There was a time back about 10 years ago when I was such a gym girl. I went to the gym every day and worked out and ran the mill. Sadly, everyone just watched the tv and no one really talked. You have been lucky to meet and get to know other runners this way:)

Anton said...

I might have to take this up. Starting to colder over here so will be forced inside for some runs soon. Good post :-)

Berryfine said...

I run EVERY morning on the treadmill during the week and take my long runs on the weekends outdoors. Mainly because I'm not comfortable running at 4:45 am by myself (I like in a sketch neighborhood). My biggest pet peeve is when people get on the treadmill next to me! The gym has 200+ machines and you pick the one next to me? I hit the gym to work out and I don't like to be bothered while doing so. However, if you want to chat me up while Travis is making me my smoothie... haha

inspiREDtorun13 said...

@Everyone--Thanks for all your great comments! I guess I should clarify that I don't hop on a treadmill next to someone and start chatting their ear off. Same idea as on a plane, that's an unspoken no-no. The buddy who wants to BQ I actually met her because she overheard me tell someone I was training for a half marathon before I climbed on the treadmill next to her. At first I was surprised she was talking to me, then realized how fortunate I was she WAS talking to me!

Besides her, everyone else I did not meet mid-workout. Since I "know" them, I'm fine with a brief chat in the middle of my run because it can really break up a long run.

What I'm really advocating is striking up a post-workout conversation with someone if you finish at the same time, because you never know who could turn into a "treadmill running buddy" in the future. I'm definitely less apt to cut a run short if the person next to me knows me!!!

@MCM Mama-- I've never met runners on the road (outside of a race), that's really cool you've done that!

@Adam-- I guess since you've shared where you work, I can say I work/workout at Gold's. PS. I crashed an Accenture Happy Hour with an open bar on Friday in DC ;) It was a LOT of fun.

@Julie--Racing has become more popular in the past 10 years, so maybe that's why I'm meeting more runners? Also I'm not in a small town, I'm right outside of DC...which is the #5 city for running in America. I just looked #6 is the Twin Cities!

@Anton--Sorry to hear cold weather is coming :-/ I'm so ready for SUMMER here!

@Berryfine-- I pick my treadmill based on proximity to what I want to see on TV.

Lauren said...

That's so awesome! I do start to notice the same people around the gym and it's neat building those relationships. Great job on socializing :D