When I was in Chicago for my dad’s wedding, I stayed at a hotel. Although I tried to get myself to go and drop in on a CrossFit Box while I was there, I instead maintained my streak of never having attended CrossFit anywhere but Arbor. However, the hotel did have a gym, and I took advantage of that. 

For the most part, the fitness center had fairly standard equipment. There was a cardio area with treadmills and bikes, a weights area with weight machines, mats, benches, and a double set of dumbbells, and in the hallway between the two, a rower, a punching bag and two jump ropes. 

I was disappointed not to see a single place that I could work on my pullups, because I’d been working on them pretty hard and I wanted to keep it up. There was a guy using dumbbells and a bench. I started on the lat pulldown machine. If I couldn’t pull up, then I’d pull down. 

But first, a warm up. I went over to the rower. It was a water rower, not the kind I’m used to using, but I’d just get my muscles working. Then I realized that the foot holder for the right foot was broken. I had to actively press up to keep my foot in place. I almost stopped, but I ended up making it work. The rower seat was higher than I’m used to, and I felt a bit precariously perched. But I got in some good meters and then moved on to the weight room.

I worked through several more machines, working both upper and lower body without a real plan. I did some dumbbell work, including biceps curls and triceps extensions. When I wanted to do some abdominal and core work, there was another guy using the area that seemed set aside for mat work. Since no one was using the cardio area, I brought my mat over there to do some hollow holds and straight leg situps. 

That’s when I noticed one of the treadmills wasn’t like the others. It was something that I’d heard about, and seen on TV, but not gotten a chance to use. A Trueform runner, which is an unpowered treadmill. It only moves when you move. I had to give it a try – after my core work. 

It was strange to walk on at first. I kept my hands on the rails while I got an idea of how the thing moved, and how sensitive it was. I found it a little difficult to get started, but once I began to jog I found the thing going faster under my feet than I was ready for. I grabbed the rails to slow myself, then reset the counter and started running a mile. 

To my utter disbelief, I ran a 9:16 mile. I’ve been running about 12:30 to 13:30 miles at home in Idaho. The elevation difference alone wasn’t sufficient to explain this result, so I figured it was something about the runner. 

I took down one of the jump ropes to give it a go, but the ceiling was too low, even for my height. It was impossible to jump here; I’d need to take it out to the patio, and I decided to call it instead. 

It was a pretty good workout, and at the time I’d really needed a good workout. But the most interesting thing is what happened after I got home. The very next time I ran, I did a 12:10 mile followed by an 11:18 mile. I could hardly believe it. Eight days prior, on what I felt was a pretty good run, I’d done 13:36 and 12:45. 

I’ve been able to keep up with the faster pace for the most part, though I was ill for a lot of October, so I didn’t get as much running done as I’d have preferred. I do know if I ever get a chance to use one of those Trueforms again, I’m doing it. 

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