April 13, 2012

The Joy of Foreign Treadmills

The Joy of Foreign Treadmills

Rather than run through the streets of Darwin in the searing afternoon heat, I opted yesterday for the hotel treadmill. As I have noted before, one thing that brought me to running was the “portable” aspect. Minimal gear (not to say that I have not amassed an assortment…), and can be done just about anywhere.

I wish I had a picture of every treadmill I have ever run on. Some of them are seriously dangerous, funny, or placed in really strange places like behind the hotel kitchen, in a converted guest room, or – I swear – a storage room. But they seem to be almost everywhere, so if I can’t run outside for reasons such as weather or safety, a treadmill always seems to be an option.

In the US, we are remarkably attached to our imperial systems of measurement. We stubbornly stick to pounds, gallons, and miles while the rest of the world (at least most of it) long ago moved to metrics and uses kilos, liters, and kilometers. So mostly we are disadvantaged when we travel abroad – we don’t know how far apart things are or what on earth the temperature is.

But there is one, very small advantage. And really, you can only call it an advantage if you can suspend disbelief for a little while. I have a great imagination, so this completely works for me.

You see, treadmills in places like Australia or India are 100% in metrics. So when you run you you see these astonishing numbers…and at the end of 30 minutes even though I know somewhere I have only run about 3 miles or so – it like I have run twice that (is that why we use kilometers for races in the US when nothing else is that way?) and it also looks like I have been running really fast – because my speed shows km/hr.

And yeah – I know it’s silly, but I really do feel like a superhero when I see those numbers even though I know they are all in my head and I am not going any farther or faster.

So here is to being a “dumb American” – if only for a day.

It’s Friday the 13th here in Darwin, Australia. Hope you are feeling lucky.

Next time from Sydney.



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