Running for Roses

On the treadmill this week, surrounded by dozens of others tackling their workouts, an idea formed in my head. Whether it’s running, sprinting, or even dancing on the treadmill (the new trend these days), there’s a subconscious sense of competition with those around you.  Someone wants to leave the room believing they “won” their workout.

Flash back to state fair or neighborhood carnival memories for a second. Those light-bright terror-filled rides drew me in as a kid, but how about the midway games?  That’s where I dropped some serious cash. Ring toss. Shooting galleries. Fishing pond. Skee ball.

In my book, the most memorable of the midway games was the Roll-A-Ball horse race. A larger-than-average booth with a dozen open stools invited you to have a seat. Along the back was a massive tote-board with horses lined up top to bottom. You had a brief sense of mounting a thoroughbred and trotting into the starting gate. The game began (with an obnoxious bell), and each “jockey” rolled a ball up a small wooden board and into holes.  The further away the hole the faster your horse galloped across the board.  The closer the hole the less the gallop but also the quicker the ball came back to you.  First horse across the finish line won (another obnoxious bell).  Some versions of the game had you shoot targets with water guns instead of Roll-A-Ball.

Here’s a video of the Roll-A-Ball horse race in action.

There’s a ton of frantic energy with Roll-A-Ball.  You play while nervously glancing at the tote-board to see how your horse is coming along. Whenever someone hits a high-score hole their horse surges to the lead. Towards the end you’re aiming for the further holes in a desperate attempt to make up furlongs.  As if the distraction of carnival sounds isn’t enough, thundering hoof beats blare every time a horse makes a move.

With Roll-A-Ball in mind, let’s go back to the gym.  I propose we combine the horse-race concept with the treadmill workout.  Place a big tote board at the front of the room. Assign each treadmill to a runner on the board.  Then create several competitions as everyone works out simultaneously. Who has been running the longest? Who is running the fastest? Who is covering the most distance?  The runners advance across the tote-board according to the individual efforts on the treadmills.  Tote-board results change constantly as runners join or leave the game.

Would people “play”?  You bet they would.  Runners are competitive by nature as they vie to “medal” or win their age category or even just improve their “personal best”.  Runners are entering 5K’s and 10K’s, half-marathons and marathons in record numbers.

Me?  I run because it makes me feel good.  But don’t think I don’t notice the results of my workout spelled out in big, bold numbers on the treadmill display. Total Time. Total Miles. Average Speed. Calories Burned.  Sometimes I race against my former self.  Sometimes I increase my pace to match the faster runner three treadmills over. Sometimes I run longer to outlast the creeper who chose the treadmill right next to me when several others were open.

Competition leads to better workouts so the racing element is a slam-dunk.  Add a “join” option to the treadmill display and you instantly pop up on the tote-board.  Quit whenever your workout is done.  Even if you don’t “win” I’d bet dollars to doughnuts you’d get a better workout than if you were running in isolation.

Mark my words, someone more innovative than me will take this idea and “run with it”.  Gyms will cough up the purchase price because racing games would attract more memberships.  And maybe, just for a moment, runners will feel like they’ve stepped off the treadmill and back into the carnival of their childhood.

About Dave

Clearly I have something to say. This blog was born of a desire to elevate our speech, using the more eloquent words of past generations. The stories I share are life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a sometimes-forgotten word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read "Flying in the Face of Reason" to unearth a few mysteries linked to Denver International Airport. Read "Color of Courage" to better appreciate recipients of the Purple Heart. On the lighter side, read "Sugar Cured" to discover a creative fix for headaches. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to "Life In A Word".
This entry was posted in memories, running and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Running for Roses

  1. Tom Wilson says:

    Here is another treadmill challenge for you. A marathon is a bit over 26 miles and the world record is a hair over 2 hours, making his average speed 13 miles per hour. Now, turn the treadmill up to 13 mph and see how long you can hang on, if at all! That those guys can keep up that speed for 2 hours has always amazed me…

    Like

    • Dave says:

      Great point! I think I can manage 9 mph (for a very short burst), but I’m not interested in flying off the treadmill. 13 mph – that’s nuts, let alone for two hours straight. I think I’ll stick to relatively slow 5K’s.

      Like

  2. Great idea… and since you have horses it only makes sense that you would turn running into a “horse race” on the treadmill. 🙂 Enjoyed the post, have never seen this game before.

    Like

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s