Running with Rhyno: Treadmills, prisons and Oscar Wilde

It came as no surprise for me to learn that the treadmill was once used to punish prisoners.

After all it is nicknamed the dreadmill.

In a recent interview on CBC’s The Current, Vybarr Cregan-Reid, author of Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human, said the idea was that hard labour “should punish the prisoner’s heart and soul.”

Dorian Gray author Oscar Wilde, who was imprisoned for being a homosexual, or for “indecency,” was one famous prisoner who was forced to walk on the treadmill for hours every day.

The treadmill celebrates 200 years this year, 50 years older than Canada if you’re keeping track.

While an English engineer invented the treadmill in 1817, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the treadmill morphed into a fitness mainstay in gyms.

I chuckled when I heard this recent episode of The Current. It was as if Anna Maria Tremonti had just read my mind.

Over the past few months, I have been obsessing over treadmills.

One bitterly cold day in December or January, I snapped. I had enough of Alberta winters. I convinced myself that my life and my training would be 100 per cent better if I shelled out the money to buy the dreaded machine.

I contacted everyone I knew to ask all the necessary questions: What I should look for in a treadmill? How much should I spend? Does motor matter?

After settling on a brand and a price point, I was ready to put down some cash. Soon I could just roll out of bed and get in five miles before I went into the office. No need to check the weather app on my phone. Take that Mother Nature.

Alas … one hiccup, or another, always seems to ruin my grand plans.

A word of advice – Never buy a treadmill in January. Think New Year’s resolutions and all that get-fit noise.

What was I thinking?

Now it is nearly March and I am not rolling out of bed and onto my treadmill. I found a great deal on the model I wanted. Of course it was out of stock in Alberta but I was given a 30-day raincheck.

Thirty-days came and went and no treadmill. The price has since crept up to the original asking price $2,000 more than I was willing to pay. I enacted Plan B and ordered directly from the company.

It will be here in two weeks, they promised.

(Another word of caution, never trust “they.”)

My treadmill’s expected delivery date is Monday. I’ve been tracking (once again obsessively) its delivery process online. It seems to be stuck on the “open” status. Not knowing what this meant, I called the shipping company.

Surprise, surprise, it hasn’t been shipped because it is out of stock in Canada. It will be shipped from the United States.

Deep breaths. I think – #$@&%*!

Meanwhile Mother Nature has given us a glimpse of spring. The weather has been perfect for running.

Is this a sign that I am not supposed to own a treadmill? Stay tuned as next time I will update you on my training adventures with or without my treadmill.


Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter. Send your column ideas, photos, race and club information and stories to Running with Rhyno is also on Facebook.

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