A friend of mine (ahem, Amy) posted on Facebook a few days ago, asking if I would be interested in running a 10K with her in August 2013. I haven’t even run my first 5K yet and this half-marathoner is asking me to run the 10K!
It’s not the physical challenge I am afraid of. I just don’t have the attention span to run that long. I mean a 5K (a little over 3 miles) is already a mental struggle for me. There’s no way I could sustain running for more than an hour!
The distance hasn’t been that much of an issue now. I no longer feel like a 5K is a long way. You have now read about my physical struggle with getting off the couch to run. Just the other day, I ran from Farquhar down Los Alamitos Boulevard to the Shoppes at Rossmoor in one shot before taking a walking break. That’s one whole mile without stopping!
However, now that I’m getting more comfortable physically, I find myself struggling to keep my focus on the run.
Most people say that their minds clear while they run. While I do have bursts of clarity, most of the time I find myself thinking, “Oh my gosh! How long have I been running? I’m not even there yet? Jeebus…I’m so bored right now.”
There are all kinds of resources on the internet to help a newly minted runner with his/her mental development such as focusing on your breathing, talking to yourself, visualizing yourself crossing the finish line, and using dissociation like listening to music, daydreaming, or chatting with a friend.
I’m pretty much employing all of them in a different order on my meager 5K run just to keep me from throwing in the towel after the first mile.
1. Heel-Toe Rock Concert
I like to sing. So instead of having my playlist set to just upbeat, workout music, I put in several sing-along anthems. I usually sing the song in my head or mouth the words while I run. But there are some occasions that I sing it out loud. Some mornings, residents of Rossmoor might have heard an injured cat whizzing by their window. That would actually be me, run-singing a broken and pitchy rendition of this…
…or this. (Seriously, it’s a good song to run to!)
Also, while it might look like I’m having a seizure when I run. I’m okay. Really. I’m just hand-dancing to this…
…or air drumming to this…
2. Visualizing Running Scenes
There are songs that get you to rock out and then there are songs that give me motivating visualization. Some do it through the lyrics. Like Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer”:
Oh, we’re half way there. Whoa-oh, living on a prayer!
Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear.
Whoa-oh, living on a prayer!
Or Foster the People’s “Houdini”:
Focus on your ability, then they can’t get what they want to steal.
And others just trigger imagery that motivates. Like a mental image of Captain Jack Sparrow in his adventures when I hear this:
(Yes. I really do have a classical piece in my playlist.)
Or the piece de resistance, Fifty Cent working out and running on a treadmill.
The song also says, “Go, shorty! It’s your birthday!” And since I’m 5-foot-nothing, that’s my own personal cheer leading from Fifty Cent right there, yo.
3. Self Pep Talk
I watched the movie “Touching the Void” several years ago. It’s based on a true story where the main character falls off a cliff while ice climbing and breaks his right leg. Not only did he survive the fall, but he also crawled and hopped his way out for three days to the base camp 5 miles away with all of his injuries, little water, and no food. In the “making of” documentary, Joe Simpson, the person on which the character was based said that to get himself off the mountain, he would aim for a spot a few feet away to crawl to. Once he got there, he would aim for the next few feet and repeat the process. Just a few feet more. Just a few feet more…
Once the music has lost my attention, my muscles start to ache, and/or my breath becomes ragged, I thought of Joe Simpson. And I would pick a spot a few yards away to focus on. Just get to that tree. Just get to that house. Just get to the corner. Just a few yards more…
4. Story Time
I did a writing exercise in college where we had to go people watch and come up with a few sentences of story about those strangers. So, when boredom creeps in, I’d try to think up some stories about what I see on the run to keep my brain occupied.
- If Batman was to live in that big house, where would his Bat Cave entrance be?
- Can that runner’s dogs run with him on a marathon?
- Are those mushrooms around that tree edible?
- What if the “soccer mom” in that Escalade who almost ran me over at the stop sign was really a CIA agent hunting terrorists?
I’m just hoping that all of these crazy stories will keep me on the road. With the weather turning a little bit colder and rainier these days, I came close to paying up at the gym to use their treadmill just to keep my training schedule. But the thought of the massive boredom that comes with running on a treadmill is worse than facing Mother Nature.
And now that the holidays are upon us, running through the neighborhood and imagining what the holiday decorations would look like at night is definitely a great distraction.
Time to load up some rocking holiday music and hit the road!
Happy Holidays, everybody!