I am running on the treadmill in the gym. While pacing at 12km per hour, I stare at the music videos on the array of monitors in front of me. They feature mostly half-naked female “artists” performing suggestive gyrations, while doing very little of actual singing. I wonder at what point did the music industry turn into a semi-pornographic peep show for the masses.
A fit-looking guy without an ounce of fat gets on the treadmill to my right. He starts running. I sneak a peek at his display panel and see that he’s running at a brisk 13km per hour pace. The competitive instinct kicks in and I amp up my speed to match his.
5 minutes pass and I notice that his strides are faster than mine. Another peek at his display panel reveals that he is now travelling at 14km per hour. Not to be outdone, I also increase my speed to 14km per hour. “Come on! Let’s get it on, buddy” I secretly throw down the gauntlet.
While this imaginary contest is unfolding in my head, a pudgy-looking fellow steps onto the treadmill to my left and starts running. Unlike the guy to my right, this man has plenty ounces of fat and doesn’t look like someone I need to throw another gauntlet down against. So I ignore him.
30 minutes later, the fit guy to my right and I are both sweating profusely. He finally stops, gives me a nod and walks off, leaving a trail of moisture behind him.
I take satisfaction in having matched step for step with the guy. As I was just about to ratchet down my speed, I suddenly notice that the treadmill to my left is making a whirring sound of an almighty decibel. I turn and see the not-so-fit-looking guy on the machine nonchalantly staring into space while running at a pace that somehow seems at odds with his physical appearance.
I sneak a peek at his display panel to see what speed this mysterious man is travelling at. 15KM PER HOUR! And he doesn’t look like he will blow out a candle, such is his breathing composure!
For some imbecile reason, I boost my speed to match his. I last 2 minutes and press the big fat emergency stop button on the machine. I pant heavily and try to catch my breath.
As I stagger off the treadmill, I cast a glance at the guy with plenty ounces of fat and give him a nod of respect. He gives a smile and says “Nice morning for a run, ain’t it?“. But, to me, it sounded more like “I whipped your ass REAL good, didn’t I!“.
The moral of the story?
One, thou shall not judge a runner by his cover.
Two, when running on a treadmill, thou shall not peek at another man’s display panel. Better to just stare and enjoy the semi-pornographic music videos on display – they are there for a reason!
Keep on pounding.