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In Defense of the Treadmill

In Defense of the Treadmill

This week we welcome Communications Officer (and former Assistant Director of Admission) Becky Tankersley back to the blog. Welcome, Becky!

About a month ago I ran my first 5k. For a little perspective, I have never, ever, been a runner. In fact, I have always been very anti-running, and would often wonder why would anyone want to run.

I’ve always enjoyed exercise, but I fell off the fitness wagon for a few years (something about babies and toddlers…). In August I heard the wakeup call and realized it was time to take better care of myself. I researched several different options, from gyms to Cross Fit to a variety of video subscription services. I settled on, of all things, running.

Running was the one option that didn’t require a membership, I could do on my own time, and didn’t cost a fortune. After talking to friends who run (running is popular here in Atlanta, which means I’m surrounded by a lot of seasoned, passionate runners), I signed up for a race, chose a Couch to 5k plan (there are a few different variations), bought a new pair of shoes, and started training.

When I first started I used the treadmill. All I had to do was get up, get dressed, and run in the comfort of my own home. But as I shared updates on my progress, my runner friends would lament about the treadmill: “I hate the treadmill!” “Ugh, the treadmill is the worst!” “I would never run if I had to do it on a treadmill every day.”

I was a bit confused because I thought the treadmill was great. Now that I’ve transitioned to running outside, I do see their point. Running outside is much more pleasant—especially the fresh air and changes in scenery. But I’m here to take up for the treadmill. It gets a bad rap, but I wouldn’t have been successful without it.

Rinse and Repeat

What does the treadmill have to do with high school and college? As a senior, you may feel like your days are spent on a treadmill—wake up, go to school, participate in activities, eat dinner, finish homework, sleep. Rinse and repeat. Life is fairly repetitive. When you see the same scenery every day you start to wonder when you get to jump off and actually go somewhere.

I get it—you’re eager to finish high school and get on with life—ready to put the admission process behind you and step into the “real” world. Real life, like a race, happens outside—in the elements—where very little can be controlled. When you run outside you can’t control the weather, the course (including the ups and downs, aka the hills!), or how many obstacles are between you and the finish line. There’s excitement and anticipation as you get ready to step up to the starting line.

So how can you find appreciation for the monotony of the treadmill when you’re so eager to get off it? It comes down to perspective, and recognizing it as a crucial part of preparation and training. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The treadmill is safe.

The treadmill is a safety net as you get started. You’re able to control your pace, and you always know what’s next—whether it’s an increase in speed or the incline—because you choose it. You can run at a certain speed, but also find moments to push harder or throttle back. Your senior year is similar—you pretty much know what’s next when it comes to classes and other responsibilities. You’ve developed a good routine, and you know just how far you can push yourself without getting overwhelmed. This safety zone gradually builds you up until the time comes to leave it.

The treadmill is reliable.

The treadmill is always there. Rain or shine, cold or hot, morning or night, it’s there, ready for you to jump on and go. You can count on it, and it doesn’t change. Likewise, you have a reliable network of people you can count on too. Family, friends, teachers, mentors—you can rely on all of these people to be there when you need them. You also have a reliable schedule.  You know how your day is planned out (times for classes and activities are set and clear), and there aren’t a lot of surprises. Even long-term, you know what’s coming—when college applications are due, when holiday break will happen, the anticipated dates of prom and graduation. There’s a beauty in the things you can rely on as you look ahead.

The treadmill gets you ready for more.

I did it! Thank you, treadmill, for getting me ready.

As I followed my training plan, I gradually built up from 1-minute intervals to 3, 5, 10, and 20-minute intervals. After a few weeks, I could consistently run a strong 2 miles (still working on making that “easy” third mile!). At first it was hard to imagine running miles (plural) when I could barely get through three minutes. But over time, my legs (and lungs) were able to handle more. Midway through my training I added outdoor runs. It was a big adjustment. There was nothing to force my movement except myself. But the time on the treadmill prepared me, and I gained confidence with each step.

The place you’re in now—at home, in high school, surrounded by family and friends who know you and support you—all works together to prepare you for something bigger. Before you know it, you will be out in the wide open, making your own choices and forging your own path. Elementary school prepared you for middle school; middle school for high school; now high school for college. College is the ultimate step outside to begin your own personal road race. Everything will change. And that’s good! Because when you step out, you’ll step out ready. The training you’ve gone through has prepared you for your next adventure.

The treadmill of life may seem like a cycle of lather-rinse-repeat. And truthfully, that’s exactly what it is. Be grateful for it!

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