Zone Dome – and why it’s good to run somewhere gorgeous

Yesterday I was lucky enough to test the new Zone Dome – a virtual reality treadmill that’s going to be hitting gyms in the UK soon.  In a nutshell, imagine a normal treadmill with a half dome on the front onto which is projected images of things like the Serengeti, New Zealand’s 90 Mile Beach or, in my case Joshua Tree National Park, so you feel as if you’re running through them.

I have never run through Joshua Tree for real. Reason 1) it’s hot 2) there’s an outlet mall nearby so when I was in the vicinity all my energy was expended shopping – but I have driven through it and it’s pretty, which, when it comes to running it seems is a good thing. New research from Germany’s University of Munster has found that if you exercise somewhere you find interesting or beautiful – and therefore concentrate more on your surroundings than the exercise – you expend less effort while you’re moving and may potentially go faster without feeling it.

This doesn’t happen on the Zone Dome – in fact, my overwhelming feeling while I was on it was ‘I run really, really slowly.’ The fact that I was running really, really slowly because I’d managed to completely stuff my back up en-route to the testing (while carrying a huge tub of protein shake and a cactus – more about one of these items in a few posts time)  was neither here nor there. In the Dome you’d really notice the speed at any pace. Which I think is good. Had I been able to speed up, I definitely would have worked harder than normal – but I still had to get home with shake and the succulent so I didn’t think I’d better risk it.

Anyway, the moral of today’s post is that surroundings count. So, if you can’t make it to Jubilee Hall gym in Covent Garden where the Zone Dome currently is, why not make an effort this weekend to go and find somewhere interesting to run near you. Your split times might thank you for it.

And if you can’t, then at least find a route close to your house that includes something cool to look at – that might be trees, flowers, sand, sea or, even just some really cool buildings. The picture above is of my old running route in Sydney which saw me running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then around past Luna Park to the end of Lavander Bay, it was a fantastic place to run – that blue sky didn’t exactly hinder things either!

first image: this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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