*Exaggerating? What do you mean, exaggerating?
I’m pretty sure that anyone who has ever run on a treadmill – or, really, even thought about it – has had that fear: Dear, God, what if I fall off? What if it goes too fast? What if I hit the emergency stop button by accident? What if…well, you get it.
At the gym once, I was running near a girl who was really picking up the pace. I was impressed, and glanced over every now and then to marvel at how fast she was going. And then it happened. She hit that point where her legs couldn’t keep up with the treadmill, and I heard a slight thud, even through my headphones. When I looked over again, she was hanging on for dear life, while her feet were being dragged off the end of the belt.
I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why she didn’t just let go. There was no getting up from her position. There was no way of hopping back on and pretending she’d just tripped up a bit. But she hung on a little while more. Once she finally detached herself from the treadmill, I laughed to myself a little bit, replaying the image in my head. (Oh come on. Please. She wasn’t hurt, I promise. Just a little embarrassed. I think. At least, I would have been.) But I didn’t want to laugh too loud because, well, karma’s a bitch.
Fast forward a few years later to last night, when I decided to test my speed on the treadmill. I’m quite the daredevil, obviously. So I gear up; I stretch; I pick out my iPod playlist, and I start running. For all of about a minute (or less), until I’m thrown forward. And the treadmill just shut down. I wish I could say the gym was empty, or that my crash wasn’t too noticeable, but the *thud* of me slamming into the controls was loud enough that the runner next to me paused, checked to see if I was okay, and asked what had happened.
I checked the usual suspects: no, I hadn’t hit the stop button. No, the treadmill hadn’t come unplugged. No, I hadn’t hit the other emergency stop button. What the hell?
And then I saw it. That damn exercise ball. Yeah, you know the really big ones that you can sit on, that really just look like toys? Apparently in the entire sixty seconds I’d been running, that ball had crept over (from about three feet away!), determined to make a fool out of someone, and wedged itself under the machine enough to stop the rotation of the belt.
It’s almost worse than falling, because the odds of an exercise ball getting sucked in by the treadmill belt? Like, a million to one. If that.
So I thanked the guy next to me for his concern, removed the ball all the way to the other side of the gym (and moved the other exercise ball, too, lest we have a repeat), and finally got back on the treadmill, all the while thinking that I was tempting fate.
I also vowed to myself that I would NOT laugh at anyone else who had treadmill issues because now I understand. I’ve been there.
And because I know karma will get me in the end.