Treadmills are synonymous with guilty exercise. It is a symbol of being forced to exercise to lose weight. I have fought with my weight continuously over the last few years now that I realize that I need to be lighter.
While on the treadmill this morning, it occurred to me how much walking on a treadmill can teach us. First there is a component of time. How long should I walk? How long can I walk? (No, I am not to the point where I can run on it.) These are two very different questions.
How long should I walk implies that there is a goal that I have set that I need to reach. It also admits to a constraint that I can’t walk “forever” because I have other responsibilities. Let’s face it, exercise takes time away from other things that I could be doing.
How long can I walk translates into how much do I want to reach the goal I set and can I endure some hardship (being tired) in exchange for reaching my overall goal. For when I start to walk on some days, I just don’t feel like walking. I get tired in the first ten minutes.
As time passes, something strange happens. I thought I was tired at ten minutes but now twenty minutes have passed and I am ok. Forty-five minutes passes and when I reach an hour I am still OK. Our body can endure so much more than our minds at times. It really can. (Even that 1 extra minute can be done even when you are ready to quit.)
Then there is an issue of focus. I walk on the treadmill listening to music. As I walk, my thoughts wander from this to that. Many times randomly. Today, I could not help but think about meditation and how its practice is to slowly eliminate random thoughts and replace them with more focused attention on a single thing.
Controlling my thoughts so that I begin to think about things that matter to me with more depth parallels my persistence to walk 90 minutes instead of 30 minutes for the same reason. Walking only 30 minutes and moving on puts me in front of more things but how much do I really accomplish?
Going deeper, by spending 90 minutes walking really pushes my exercise to a level that will benefit me at losing weight. Especially when I do it every day. And it’s done. Complete without distraction.
My treadmill walking reminded me of time, constraints, depth, and focus. (As well as how weak our mind can be.) The challenge is to think more deeply about these same issues once I finish my 90 minutes of walking and become more intentional with them in the many different aspects of my life.
(By the way, 90 minutes doesn’t happen every day. It still is part of my struggle.)