Running is great fun.
Mostly AFTER you have finished your run.
The ACTUAL RUNNING part is pretty darned boring. Especially if you run long distances.
Most days, I stop not because I’m tired. I stop because I’m bored out of my mind.
The first 15 minutes are not so bad. I marvel at the the scenic beauty of my surroundings, listen to the chirping birds, size-up my fellow walkers/ runners and plan my day’s agenda.
(People tell me, I can keep things interesting if I choose new places to run at. Or switch up the times. They tell me wrong. The place and time don’t matter. I can run in the most interesting, beautiful places and still be bored. I’m bored of running, not of the place. I can always stop running and admire my surroundings!)
The next 15, I crank up the music. Choreograph a couple of songs in my head. Do some sprinting. Huff and puff a bit.
From then on, the battle begins. J versus J.
The running bit is actually easier in this segment of the run. Your body has warmed up. The cold does not bother you anymore. Your muscles are supple and oiled. You have found your “run rhythm” for the day. The pace has been set. Your breathing is measured, but in tempo with the run. Your limbs move fluidly. Your body is in sync.
But your Smarty- Pants Head starts to mess with you. It starts getting bored doing the same thing over and over. It starts throwing tantrums. Tells you to just be done for the day. Enough, the nasty creature says.
Your poor Body wants to keep going. He is feeling good. The stretching and contracting of muscles makes him feel powerful. The cracking of the joints feels good. The rigor of the pumping heart is exhilarating. The abundance of oxygen in the lungs is liberating. The air whooshing by seems to cleanse the invisible impurities that cannot be rid by a bath.
But the fickle and restless Mind wants none of it. He cares two hoots what Body wants or needs.
And so, the struggle ensues. Every morning. Every run. Every day.
The last leg of the run ain’t so bad though. The anticipation of the end to come, is enough to keep you going- Mind and Body.
Over the years, I have devised ways and contrived methods to keep the spoilsport Mind involved and occupied. Here are some tactics that I commonly deploy:-
1. Whup thy neighbour’s arse– Not literally friend. Meaning compete with him and beat him. Run faster. Longer. I don’t compete or race with the guy/ girl beside or ahead of me. Na. I ain’t so straight thinking. That would be too obvious. If it’s a track that I’m running on, I compete with the guy running in the opposite direction. Go figure.
2. Go beserk ever so often- Yes. Good people also call it interval training. Occasionally, especially when you notice Mind starting to pull his nasty tricks on you, go ALL OUT. Run for your life. As fast as you can. The darned devil (your head!) will be so busy trying to fix your oxygen levels and getting Mr Heart to pump and vasodilating in the skeletal muscle bed that he will leave you alone for a while.
3. Jack up the volume and tempo- I love Bach, but he does nothing to help me when I’m running. So yeah, the beats per minute (on your music) count. Trust me. Your subconscious definately picks up the pace depending on the music it’s hearing.
4. Be stark raving mad– This may not work for everyone. I notice that I run best, and am least bored; on the days that I’m pissed or angry with someone or something. I can channel all my angst and anger into stomps on the ground. By the end of the session, all the anger is spent and only the merry endorphins remain 🙂
5. Find an equally mental run- bud- This one is tricky folks. I like to run alone. It’s The Ideal Way. But if you are training for a certain distance or time (a 5K or a marathon for example), or want to get better quicker; it’s best if you run with a buddy. Someone who does not bore your to death. Someone who does not talk unnecessarily. Someone faster and fitter than you. Someone who can push you hard. Someone who does not slow YOU down. And someone who you can share a laugh with. Now, all the best on finding SOMEONE.
6. Compete with thyself- Does not work always. Some days when I try and talk Mind into running an extra lap, saying how we can beat ourselves; he says F#$% You and commands Body to stop! And poor Body has no choice but to stop.
7. Put up a show, run to impress- Locate an appealing subject and impress him/ her with your running prowess. It’s amazing what Mind and Body can do when they know they have an audience.
8. Promise the demons riches and gold- If all else fails, just remind Mind that an extra- lap means you can have an extra doughnut or an extra shawarma. (In my case, the Dairy Demon, the Bakery Monster and the Shawarma Fiend* have tremendous clout over Mind).
Let’s see what method I might have to employ tomorrow!
Till next time…
*To read more about The Dairy Demon, the Bakery Monster and the Shawarma Fiend click here.