Thursday, February 7, 2013

Long Runs Are…Long – Vanessa

I’ve reached the point in training where a six-mile run feels like slacking. Once you get used to running over 10 miles at a time, shorter runs during the week feel like cheating. The problem is that this logic does not apply to long runs – they still just feel long. In addition to the physical challenge of piling on miles, I’ve come to realize that the hardest part is mental. Sure, I can be a cheerleader for myself mentally waving pompoms as I cross mile markers along my route, but the fact of the matter is I just get bored. Luckily, I have found a few ways to combat the boredom:

1) Music
I hate to brag, but my iTunes library is remarkable. As a former Spin instructor, I have pop tunes for every taste and from every era. From Bee Gees to Beiber, if it has a good beat, I’ve got it. The problem is that at some point the strong, monotonous beat of pop music begins to wear on me. I run to the beat, breathe to the beat and even begin to think to the beat. I need something more.

2) Podcasts
Running’s best kept secret. The idea of running with a buddy and chatting for 15 miles is great but in reality you are out of talking points and out of energy to coordinate your mouth, brain AND feet all at the same time by mile five. Instead, I download podcasts- specifically This American Life. This provides me with a built-in running buddy. He makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me think but NEVER makes me talk. If only Ira Glass new how many miles we’ve logged together!

3) Puppies
Everybody loves them. Lucky for us, the city of Boston is literally packed with puppies. Running along any body of water or through any public park usually guarantees a high rate of puppy sightings. I realize this may not be enough of a distraction for some runners, but when the monotony of 15 miles-worth of pop music has turned your brain to mush a thought as simple as “OOOH! PUPPY!” can go a very long way.

This weekend presents a new challenge: 16 miles without losing my mind. With the impending blizzard, I may be forced to log my miles on the dreaded treadmill, which takes my puppy distraction out of the equation. I’m hoping for a good trashy reality TV marathon playing at the gym. Any other ideas for entertainment during a long run?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know what I use to distract me when I run? Anger.

One day, I trudged through the snowy parking lot of my apartment complex to our fitness center, eager to relieve myself from a stress-filled day teaching teenagers by taking a short jog on the treadmill. Much to my disappointment, I arrived in what was typically an empty fitness center to see 4-5 16ish year olds messing with the equipment. The two girls in the group were at least dressed in workout gear, but the guys were not and just sat on the stationary bikes, pedaling lazily while texting and gazing at the girls jumping around on the step-stairs. What really got to me was their laughter and the fact that they were watching some kind of reality tv show on VH1. No Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy for me that night!

As I started running, it crossed my mind that these kids were most certainly not 18 and should not have been in the center without supervision. The more I ran (and was forced to watch them mess around), the more frustrated I was with their presence. I spent much of the run coming up with polite, but direct ways of telling them to OUT of the fitness center, especially if they weren't actually there to use the facility properly.

In the end, I ran over 5 miles - more than I had ever run on a treadmill - after only planning to run 3!

I guess I owe those kids a thank-you card, or at least an apology for giving them enough stinkeye to make them uncomfortable enough to leave. I was able to catch final Jeopardy, thereby relaxing a bit during the last mile of my run.