Recently, I was on vacation and forgot to bring my cold/wet weather running gear. After running in sunny weather in 70s, 80s, and 90s for the last few months, mid 40s and rain wasn’t my jam, so I decided to head to the workout room at the hotel and pound out 10 on a treadmill.
I was pleasantly surprised to find an open treadmill. Better yet was that is appeared to be an almost new machine. I think it was one of these. Gigantic HD touch screen and loads of entertainment options built right. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my workout headphones.
Oh well, let’s just stick to the video running courses. A few minutes in and I was pretty impressed, the overall quality and variety is better than expected. But as things went on, I noticed some problems:
- The source material is shot a few different ways. I’m guessing a steady cam on someone walking, some from a bike, and some with a drone. With the latter, the illusion of actually being there kinda falls apart when the distance to the ground gets higher than eye level.
- I can’t tell for sure, but I think that the video is supposed to be speed synced to the treadmill speed. Most of the time, it appears to be close enough. Sometimes, you’re cooking along in real life, but the action on screen is too slow. There’s one segment where you pass a biker who’s moving along at a pretty good clip; pretty sure he was doing better than 8.1 mph I was managing myself.
- Some of the courses mess with your head. Running trails with a steep drop off to one side, lots of blind twists and turns, or crazy stuff like rope bridges are convincing enough to make you lean to adjust your virtual balance. I didn’t really have any issues, but it took a lot of concentration to convince my body that I wasn’t gonna drop off a cliff mid run.
- In the too real department, there are some sections where you run through populated areas like city streets and beaches. Just like in real life, people in the videos don’t yield space, or obliviously cross into your path. There are even a few random yahoos that intentionally jump in front of you or try to high five you maliciously. I seriously wanted to punch something after those sections.
All in all, the videos did make the treadmill experience less annoying than just staring at the wall, so I guess I can’t complain too much. But, after a few runs back in the outdoors, I’m thankful that I can run outside all year round.