The Hard Lesson I Learned From Falling Off of a Treadmill

Other than it hurts like a bitch.

I’ve been a fitness editor at Women’s Health for just two months, and I’ve already humiliated myself.

A week and a half ago, during the final stretch of an intense interval-based class at Manhattan’s new Orangetheory Fitness, surrounded by other fitness editors and writers, I thought it was my ambitious nature that steered me to listen to the instructor when she bellowed, “Last 60 seconds…Give it your all!” But I had no business slamming down my finger on the dashboard until I cranked up my speed to eight miles per hour and my incline to eight percent, especially when I was already huffing and puffing for air.

You see, that was when I tripped on the belt of the brand-new treadmill and flew off the machine. I probably looked a bit like this:

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The result: two bloody knees, a sprained ankle…and worst of all, a very, very badly bruised ego.

Now, more than a week later, after watching my bruises turn every shade of the rainbow, I realize that what had come over me in that class was not determination but, rather, desperation. When I heard the words give it your all, I suddenly had to prove—to the instructor, to the other editors and bloggers, to the overhead screen displaying our heart rates, and to myself—that I belonged there.

Since crashing and burning on the treadmill (seriously, my knee lost a good inch of skin), I’ve realized something huge (besides that you should never wear skinny jeans when you have skinned knees): You have to respect who you are, what you’re capable of, and what you’re not. When the instructor is shouting at you to do more and your legs are so shaky, you’re losing your balance, that’s a pretty good sign that you’ve hit your limit. Laziness is when you hold back because you don’t want to do something you’re capable of. Realism is when you want to do something but you hold back because you know you’re not capable of it (at least not yet!). Deep down, I knew an eight mph sprint on such a high incline wasn’t in my bag of tricks that day, but it took a hard fall to bring me back to reality.

That said, I’m all about challenging yourself, as long as it’s for the right reasons. If you want to test the boundaries of your own limits, go for it. But be prepared for the fact that you may end up eating it.

Marissa Gainsburg is the assistant fitness editor at Women’s Health.

More from Women’s Health:

You’re Probably Setting Your Treadmill to the Wrong Incline

Your Ultimate Guide to Getting Running Ready (After the Worst Winter Ever)

Ellie Goulding Is Super Fit and Can (Actually) Kick Your Butt

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