A few days ago I read a post in my Facebook News Feed that stopped me, made me smile, and think, “yeah!” Without another thought, I tapped “share”.

Spartan Status

No one ever got a great story from a treadmill.

It spoke to me. It said, “staying inside where it’s safe and warm is boring — go! Live a great story!” And though I’ve never run a Spartan Race — and don’t currently have plans to do so — I identified with the spirit of that sentence. I read it as a challenge. And a reminder.

In fairness to treadmills, they provide opportunities for exercise where there otherwise may be none. They can be compact and convenient and safe when the alternative is anything but. I am not anti-treadmill.

But in my mind, a treadmill stands for all things routine, stationary, and unremarkable. There’s no scenery on a treadmill. No wind. No twists and turns and ‘what’s around the corner?’ The extent of the sensory experience offered by a treadmill is the sights and sounds (and smells) of the sweating, huffing, and puffing coming from the poor sap on the treadmill next to you. At my gym there’s the added bonus of the local news or a rerun of Family Guy on the row of TVs above your head.

Not a great story, in my book.

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? — Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail

I’ve always liked that quote from You’ve Got Mail. When I endorsed that Spartan Race post with my “share”, I was saying ‘Don’t let life remind you of a book! Don’t be satisfied with the challenge of a treadmill! Go find your great story.’

Treadmills do not equal great stories. Travel is a great story. Beautiful scenery is a great story. Conquering new heights is a great story.

Almost immediately a few friends commented on the post, and it wasn’t what I expected.

Truly great stories don’t come from organized obstacle courses, either. Go make your own adventure. — Facebook Friend

Hmm. The original post was written by Spartan Race, an extreme obstacle race series. I hadn’t specifically considered that when I re-posted. I didn’t intend to declare that muddy, bloody obstacle races are EXACTLY where great stories come from.

I’ve got a treadmill story …. — Facebook Friend

Wait. A TREADMILL story? That comment hit me like a ton of bricks.  Not only did I remember that I indeed know an incredible treadmill story, but the whole concept started to fall apart.

The truth is, great stories can come from anywhere. Shame on me for forgetting that. The world is full of potential stories — on treadmills and on desert islands, and everywhere in between.  Great stories are written every day in the hearts of people who are looking for them. Yes, it’s travel and spontaneity and outdoor adventure — TO ME. But to you, it’s public speaking or teaching your daughter to ride a bike or enjoying retirement. Or spending hard-fought, grinding, dedicated time on a treadmill.

For some, extreme obstacle courses are epic and awesome, with potential for accomplishment and teamwork and testing limits — and for some they are no different than my attitude about treadmills, representing all things routine and unremarkable.  But one man’s treadmill is another man’s challenge of a lifetime.

If you have a great story – treadmill or otherwise – I can’t wait to hear it.

3 thoughts on “One man’s treadmill

  1. I’ve got a great story about running through some wet grass.

  2. You’re a trouble maker.

  3. I learned it from you.

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