I do almost all of my thinking while running. Sometimes I brood, and sometimes I think deep thoughts. But if we’re being honest, I spend 95% of the time daydreaming about sex.
This habit is fine on my outdoor runs. No one can read my mind–either no one’s around or I pass people too quickly. Unfortunately, the last two godforsaken months have been too cold to even breathe, forcing me to retreat to the treadmill. In the gym, there is never “no one around,” and I certainly do not pass anyone quickly. I don’t pass anyone at all, because, of course, on a treadmill you never go anywhere. There is no way to escape my fellow gym goers, and I may actually know some of them. Therefore, they are at least five times as likely to be able to read my mind while I think about sex.
Even more horrifying than the prospect of having my mind read is the very real possibility of running into the subject of my sex musings. Whenever I remember that this could possibly occur, I develop an irresistible urge to look behind me. Have you ever tried to turn and look behind you while running on a treadmill? I don’t advise it.
When working out at night, I can look at the reflection in the windows and see who might be lurking among the ellipticals. Other times, it’s light out and I can’t turn around, which makes me utterly convinced that the subject of my fantasies is right behind me, reading my mind and looking at my back sweat. In high school, I once had a spontaneous orgasm in class. The possibility of this happening again is not even as terrifying as the prospect of my subject walking in while I’m on the treadmill.
Why is my sex/treadmill encounter fear so strong? We’ve all had innumerable conversations during which we wondered what it would be like to sleep with the person we’re talking to. During many dull lectures, I’ve wondered what my professors look like naked. This kind of exchange doesn’t bother me; in fact, it fills me with a feeling akin to the glee I feel saying hi to a cop while carrying a pocketful of weed. The difference between those encounters and the possible treadmill encounter is the element of surprise. I see someone, and I think about sex related to and/or involving that person. But it should never happen the other way around. And it should never happen while I’m trapped on an exercise machine.