Treadmills: Proof of Intelligent Design

hamsterI’ve heard human beings described as Pleasure Monkeys; primitive, reward-seeking primates that will gladly climb a tree IF there is promise of bananas a few branches up. We, like all animals, seek pleasure and avoid pain.  The way we speak, with whom we associate, what we do, where we work, what we wear; all of it can be viewed through the evolutionary lens of putting in effort to achieve a reward.  The banana in the tree.

I really like weight lifting.  It improves my strength, and the aesthetics my efforts produce seem to be appreciated by my wife.  Putting myself through the grinder of a hard work out is well worth it. However, there are other components to lifting weights that are important to me.

Suppose a sadist of the worst kind devises a highly effective, resistance training contraption that allows the user to perceive what pulling hundreds of pounds off the floor might feel like, as well as all the accompanying performance gains.   The downside to this contraption is all of the benefit would occur without the glorious payoff of  moving the actual weight that was previously unattainable.

There is something beautiful about achieving a personal record.  Loading the bar with weight, and then hitting a clean repetition with that weight for the first time is a payoff! Hearing the metallic clang of the plates as they settle against one another during each repetition is a reward. Feeling the knurling on the bar dig in to my chalked hands, and watching the bar bow gently under the tension I  generate are bananas in the tree for which this pleasure monkey will climb.

Why, then, do treadmills exist? Where the hell is the banana?  If I hop on the treadmill for thirty minutes and jog at a ten minute pace, I have gone exactly nowhere.  Did I run three miles?  I guess so.  I didn’t feel any breeze, though. I didn’t catch the scent of blooming flowers on the side of the road, either.  Just the cloud of Axe Body Spray the guy next to me doused himself with.  I don’t get to see the ever changing, beautiful, Utah landscape.  Just the gaggle of women standing in a crowd four feet from me yammering on about when to switch from breast milk to formula.

Obviously I’m missing something, as treadmills are clearly popular, but who are you people?  …and, why?  So, in short, evolutionary theory holds that maladaptive behaviors will be selected out of the gene pool, and yet, treadmills abound.   Darwin was wrong, guys.  There is a God, and he wants us to do cardio.



4 thoughts on “Treadmills: Proof of Intelligent Design

  1. Pretty solid analogical link between primates pleasure pursuit and your taking the silver medal in the douche-canoe gingerfication olympics by picking up something heavy off the ground. Much respect! In all seriousness, I have seen how much you can dead-lift, and it’s quite impressive. Nearly as much as I can bench…but hey…who’s counting, right?

    The only flaw in your comparison between bananas and weight-lifting is the lack of regard for the relative complexity, not to mention delayed gratification, of the latter. The degree of beauty attached to a personal record is contingent on two things in my estimation: 1) The amount of genuine work/effort you have submitted prior to achieving the record; and, 2) The disparity between your previous and present personal record.

    In other words, you don’t need a sadistic contraption that provides the perception of pulling godawful amounts of weight in order to feel as if you’re getting nowhere. Like the “gaggle of women” you reference in your post, think about the motley throng of 4 or 5 numskulls that hover around the squat, dead lift, and bench press racks yelling cliched provocations to perform indiscriminate sexual acts on the weights in order to get “ONE MORE REP’ BRO!” All the while, never really modifying their current regimen to seek real gains. Those dummies will be pulling the same weight for years. Both of these examples are consistent with some bitch-ass chimp climbing to the lowest hanging banana for some instant gratification. Let em’ have it.

    Like you, I take my training seriously. Unlike you, I absolutely LOVE the treadmill. Why? One word…ACCOUNTABILITY. Specifically, accountability to a goal (i.e., race) of beating my personal record. Treadmills hold runners accountable. Speed, incline, time, distance…you can’t escape it. Have you ever tried to train on hills running outside with any consistency? Aside from the drive to whatever hill-bound terrain exists that may offer some good training (waste of time), I gotta keep in mind my homey Newton’s law that what goes up must come down. Every time I run up that hill, I gotta spend the other half of my training going downhill (waste of energy). Treadmills offer an evolutionary hack by allowing me perpetual hill training at the flick of a button.

    The breeze, scent of flowers, Utah’s beautiful scenery, all good things. However, not necessary for what I hope to accomplish when I train on a treadmill. Further, I would argue that my deliberate restriction to training on treadmills allows me to more fully appreciate those things when it comes to race time. Sour Patch Kid philosophy = You can’t have the sweet without the sour.

    In conclusion, I would say you need to amp up your likening of weight-lifting and bananas, and incorporate a little Roganism by recognizing, “There are levels to this, son!” Leave the bananas to the gaggle of treadmill trollops and legion of gawking louts. For us, I like to think that our chimpanzee brethren hunted exclusively for troops of monkeys that made our primate ancestors work for their reward. Which was ever-so-sweet when those little imps fought kicking and screaming while being devoured alive.


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