Saturday, March 7, 2009

To Dot or Not to Dot? That is the Question

Ultimately there are only two types of runners. Those who watch the dots and those who don't. Treadmill dots. Not the fuzzy ones you might foolishly choose to ignore near the end of a long run when you left your gu back at the car and refuse to double back to go get it. Bad move. Bad bad move.

You know the ones I'm talking about. Whether you've run on a treadmill by force because the weather has dropped well below freezing and the wind chill is enough to quite possibly separate your nose from your face permanently or you're an out of the closet treadmill fan who maybe chooses the mill over the trails just because you'll have a place to put your sports drink where no one will steal it, you've seen the dots. They represent how far around the imaginary 1/4 mile track you've run.

Some people watch the dots. Some don't. Now there are subcategories here:

Dot Watchers:

  • Dot Starers - These people never take their eyes off the dots for a minute as if their very run depends on seeing that next dull empty circle fill with light but not neccessarily for any reason. It's almost a deer caught in the headlights kind of stare.

  • Dot Glancers - They take a look here and there, probably more here than there, but definitely they don't miss when a new dot lights up.

  • Dot Dependent - These people MUST watch the dots. They NEED the dots. They LIVE for the dots. They are similar to dot starers except that their run in fact DOES depend on the dots. They must see how much closer they are to the end of that loop in order to have the motivation to continue. It's desperation really, an out of breath huff and puff around the track, that teeny little track.

  • Dotaticians- They watch the dots and do the math. Ok I just ran 100 meters, now if I just run the straight that will be 200 meters (yes I know this is a very simple example, but I am not a dotatician, nor am I a fan of math and quite frankly I don't even add well, so no sense in giving you a more complicated mathmatical equation like some dotaticians will challenge themselves to on the treadmill. I'd just be providing more amo for my eventual mathmatical demise). Some dotaticians will do this to motivate themselves to keep moving, others will do it for distraction, still others do this because of yet another addiction. They are also mathaholics.
Non Dot Watchers:

  • Dot Ignorers - They are consciously chosing not to watch the dots. They know of course that the dots are there. They simply choose not to look at them, most for no apparent reason. But then there are the select few who are actually Anti-Dot. They believe you should run for the sheer love of it and run until you are finished which you will know because like a jedi master you can feel when the force is with you and when it isn't. When it isn't, then and only then Luke, your mission will be complete. Those who are Anti-Dot are frequently called Dot Snobs in Pro-Dot circles where it is a common belief that Anti-Dot activists feel that any and all dots are beneath them. This is not always true and an unfortunate stereotype but one that will take much more "crossing the aisle" than is actually likely.
  • Dotfree Zoners - These are the people who are completely in their head. They've zoned out. They're either solving the world's great questions (like Dots or No Dots), or saints lost in prayer, or music lovers wrapped up in song, or ultimate Zen masters who have completely emptied their mind of everything. Ooommmmmm.....

  • Dot Hiders - Secretly would like to be dot watchers, but whereas dot watchers are motivated by the dots, dot hiders are in fact demotivated by the slow moving progress of the dots. Watching the dots would just make them want to quit altogether. They employ another strategy. Sneak attack. Their deepest desire is that when they lift that towel that has been strategically placed to cover not only the dots, but often the entire statistical console, that they will have magically defied all natural and scientific law and somehow progressed much farther than is humanely possibly in the brief amount of time they've been running. Dot Hiders are perhaps the most fun to watch because the more tired they get, the more they will pick up that towel with increasing frequency which often reaches the level of hilarity.

  • Distracted Dot Missers - This is that lady. You know the one. She's the tall fit skinny one who runs about an 8 minute mile without hardly breaking a sweat while carrying on a conversation with the 9 different people who will hop onto the treadmills anywhere in her vicinity. Or the dude who's singing out loud without a care watching the world go by. Or maybe just somebody who's catching up on their favorite shows. Or, and this is a rare gem which can also be quite enteratining, the guy who's busy impressing himself with himself as he watches himself in the mirror. You've got to catch this one quick though. He's not usually on the treadmill for much for than one hard and fast as he can go mile.

  • Dot Deficient - These people need our help. They are most often beginning runners. They have no idea what the dots mean. It is our responsibility as experienced runners to let them in on the secret of the oval and the dots.

Dots v. No Dots? Who is right and who is wrong? And better yet, what does all this dot watching say about our society today? A society where some of us have become dot dependent? And even worse some of us don't even know what a dot is or consciously choose to ignore dots? Is there dot discrimation going on? Are non-dot watchers judging the lowly dot watcher on the treadmill next to them? And who in fact will provide the stimulus for the dot watchers if the non-dot watchers one day rise up and decide to abolish dots from treadmills altogether?

These are serious questions and perhaps something that congress and our new president should move up on their priority list and begin deliberating immediately otherwise we are in danger of runner polarization and possibly even...dare I say it...gasp...runner civil war. These questions demand answers and I for one will not sit idly by and let the dot controversy escalate for my children and my children's children. We must unite... It's time for a change we can believe in...This is the straight talk express here...

And the answer to your question. Yes, I am a dot watcher, but my husband is a dot hider. So please runners everywhere, find hope in us. Dot watchers and dot hiders can live peaceably, even sharing long as there's no gas involved ;-)

Oh and to answer your other question. Yes I am probably the only person who finds this funny, but if you've read all this way and haven't the slightest grin on your face what does that say about you? Hmmm?


runnanna said...

This is hilarious! I am a dotatician! The math distracts me! Although I have also spent time in some of the other dot categories. Great blog!

AudreyO said...

I'm laughing so hard. I use a machine called a TreadClimber. There are dots, but they are different. They don't go anywhere. After 15 minutes the dot box is filled and while the dots flash, no more are added and they don't move. On a regular treadmill the dots move around the cute little track but on a treadclimber they don't. I'm more apt to watch the clock and see if my time is up yet :)

Ollie said...

I am a dotestimatatician. That means that as I employ the strategy of the "dot hider" I take it one step further. I try to guess how far the dots have progressed before I take a peek. All of my study indicates that the longer you exercise the slower the dots become. 'cus I'm sure I never over estimate.

Anonymous said...

I read on the treadmill. I take great pride in this skill. I can take the treadmill up to 6.5 before I loose it. I love being able to read on the treadmill. I will happily read on for an hour or so before the treadmill police ask me to disembark. Help with the skill comes from using library books with big print.

Lani said...

Ha! I'm a dot-hider... they don't emerge quickly enough so I try to pretend they aren't there:) I used to run while watching episodes of NipTuck on DVD- that was a good dot distraction!

Anonymous said...

Why not buy a running watch, I have just got one and it really motivates me to run. Here is a Review of the Garmin Forerunner 305 Running watch