It’s just number. It’s what we tell ourselves when we see a number we don’t like. The number by itself doesn’t tell the full story. The number doesn’t represent us. It doesn’t represent our true worth.
I stare at the number and mind-numbingly repeat to myself, “It’s just a number. It’s just a number. It’s just a number.”
But somewhere, deep inside me, it’s more than just a number. I think the number is me. I know this is wrong, but I can’t help but feel otherwise.
Although I love our new treadmill, there’s a part of me that hates how slow it makes me feel. Because treadmills aren’t calibrated perfectly, treadmills vary in terms of perceived effort. When we lived in Hoboken, our condo building had a gym with four treadmills. There was one that we called the “magic treadmill” because the perceived effort was so much easier on that particular treadmill. We both favored that treadmill because if you were doing a hard workout, we were more likely to hit it on that treadmill than on the other ones. We weren’t the only ones who noticed because it was everyone’s favorite treadmill. Often times Ben and I had to reschedule our runs for another time because someone was already on the “magic treadmill” with the other treadmills left unused.
With all that love, the magic treadmill broke and was out of commission. So we switched over to the hardest treadmill to do our workouts. What I learned from Ben was that we shouldn’t worry about whether the treadmill was calibrated perfectly. He accepted that there were going to be differences among treadmills and the most important thing was that we pick one treadmill and show improvement on that treadmill.
We moved to Brooklyn and I became a member of Crunch Gym. It was difficult to find “my” treadmill because I couldn’t rely on having that one treadmill be free every time I went to the gym. Unlike our condo where the gym was literally down the hall from us, Crunch was significantly farther away, so I couldn’t go home and return a half hour later. So I had about five treadmills that I tried to use consistently (without great success). But still, I found some constancy and I did my favorite speed work of gradually increasing the distance of a goal 5K pace. Eventually I got up to running 1.8 miles at 8.5 mph.
We bought a treadmill last December. Eagerly I jumped on it to do my usual speed work.
Running is dang hard on that thing. To be more correct, doing my old speed work is too hard. As in impossible. I can’t even last a half mile. After much “experimenting,” I recently concluded that I have to reduce the speed and go back to the beginning. It’s now 8.3 mph and I start with a half mile. I’ll slowly up the distance until I reach 2.5 miles.
It’s just a number. What the treadmill tells me is not important. I know objectively I’m not slower because I’m consistently hitting race paces under less than ideal conditions where it used to be that I needed everything to be perfect in order for me to do that same pace. What matters is that I’m consistently demonstrating improvement on that treadmill. The actual number itself doesn’t matter.
The 8.3 mph treadmill runner that I am now is just as good/fast of a runner as the 8.5 mph treadmill runner of last year. It’s just a number.
I keep telling myself this. It’s just a number. It’s just a number. It’s just a number.