Thank God there are TVs attached to treadmills. Because this winter, I watched a lot of TV. Hours.
Now I’m an expert on what you should and should not watch when treadmilling.
Me? I’m a fan of public television. There’s virtually no downside to clicking over to PBS because you can care for your body and your mind. That’s how I learned about Margaret Garner, the enslaved African-American woman who killed her daughter to keep her from enduring a life of slavery. (She served as Toni Morrison’s inspiration for her Nobel Prize winning novel Beloved.) I ran an extra mile that day because I was so riveted by Henry Louis Gates’ narration of the series African American Lives. Learning and running—how can you turn your back on that? Are you a monster?
I’ll admit the subject matter was a little heavy and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Fair enough. That doesn’t mean PBS won’t work for you. My fastest run of the entire winter was the morning I watched Rick Bayless’ Mexico– One Plate at A Time. I don’t know what got into me: was it the garlic he dry roasted in a pan? Was it his ropy arms and that boyish enthusiasm for mole? I don’t know, but I was blazing that day and learned how to make guajillo chile sauce to boot.
Still, not everyone wants to better her mind or lust after a Top Chef Master with zero body fat. That’s okay. I did some vetting for you too. I got some good mileage out of Say Yes To The Dress, though I prefer the New York version to the Atlanta one. In Atlanta, I found the southernness of it all a little oppressive—it was too polite and too eye-rolly. Too many cheerleading squads. Give me a little sassy borough thing any day. Speaking of reality shows, I loved the one about Britney Spears getting ready for the opening of her show in Vegas. I did a good four-miler when I watched Little People- Big World and saw when Jen Arnold and her husband adopted their daughter from India, but never watched it again when I heard she had cancer. I don’t want to get attached. I’m fragile.
In all those weeks, I’ve never once flipped through without finding Shahs of Sunset or some version of the Real Housewives, so if you’re into that, you’re lucky. Someday someone will have to explain the allure of that to me.
Reruns are plentiful as well. I logged a few miles to old Friends episodes, which stand the test of time for me (though the test is open book and graded on a curve), but Seinfeld isn’t holding up for me. It’s too quirky, precious and Jerry’s hair is so fucking distracting I almost fell on the machine. Not. Good.
I watched a few Sex and The City episodes, which alternatively bored me and grossed me out. How many times per episode did Samantha have to remind the girls that she really, really loved sex? Tiresome.
On Saturday afternoons I stumbled across an old movie that kept my attention. Ferris Beuller’s Day Off and Working Girl both made me forget about my shin splints. One particularly hard-to-motivate day, I found Juno and watched the last hour. That final scene with Paulie holding Juno in the hospital? Me = bawling and running. So healing.
Remember four paragraphs above where I was professing my love for PBS and the documentary series there? Confession: During the pledge drive they kept showing some doctor hawking his 10–day detox. It was so boring I turned it to the static station and watch salt and pepper dance on my screen. Also? I watched a lot, I mean a whole lot, of TMZ. Don’t judge—it’s on when I run after picking up the kids. Um, so is Extra, that show where Joan Rivers makes fun of people, and The Talk.
Just keeping it real.
The only thing (besides Detox Diet Doctor) that I had trouble running to were the news channels. The talking heads and the crawl and the beating me over the with the breaking “news” was too much for me. One entire run I watched the Governor Christie bridge situation unfold, but there was nothing new to say in 60 minutes. They say news is now entertainment; I beg to differ.
So what do you recommend for treadmill entertainment? What should I avoid?