Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mind Games

"I know some good games we could play,"
Said the cat.
"I know some new tricks,"
Said the Cat in the Hat.
"A lot of good tricks.
I will show them to you.
Your mother
Will not mind at all if I do."
 ~ Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

In celebration of Dr. Seuess's recent birthday (March 2) and because it was only because of mind games that I got out the door to run yesterday, I thought I would share the above quote with you.

I can't say what really dragged me down mood-wise before yesterday's scheduled run. Perhaps the habitual lack of sleep lately is getting to me, or maybe it's the fact that I have been having lower leg issues (I know, it's always something with me), perhaps the lack of trail running is starting to get me down, or - just maybe - I didn't feel like running. (Gasp!)  But the truth is that facing my run yesterday morning, I felt I would rather have headed out the door for a root canal than lace up my running shoes and pound the pavement.  In fact, the only way I could get myself out yesterday morning was by playing mind games with myself.

So, what were these magic mind games? Well, I will share, because who knows? Maybe it will help you someday.  So, here they are in no particular order of importance:
  1. First of all, I decided NOT to wear a watch yesterday.  I did still carry it, though.  (I just can't get away from having some record of my runs.)  Although the watch was on me - and recording - I  had it zipped up in my running jacket's pocket.  Because it was not easily accessible, I wasn't tempted to pull it out and analyze pace, distance, etc. every third step.  In fact, I only looked at it twice after reaching certain geographical markers just to see how much time I still had before needing to meet the school bus.
  2. Next, since I was less than thrilled with the idea of figuring out yet another route to run through my all-too-familiar neighborhood, I decided to run all of them.  True story.  In heading out the door, I challenged myself to trace every street, cul de sac, and walkway through our neighborhood.  Before long I was caught up in my own little game of Pac-Man or perhaps, given the sassy skirt I chose to wear, you could call it Ms. Pac-Man.  The rules were simple: cover every street at least once, minimizing the number of repeats.  With all the curves and dead ends, it turned out to be just enough of a mental challenge to keep me focused, as I tried to remember which streets I had hit and which ones I had missed.  By the time I was done with half of my subdivision, I had logged 7.85 miles.  Not bad.  Who knew there was that much mileage to be had in our little enclave?  I didn't.
  3. Thirdly, and this is very important.  I gave myself permission from the start not to do the eight miles that were on the schedule.  Going about my little game, I decided I would only do it so long as it was fun.  Luckily for me, it remained fun for the duration.
  4. Tangentially to playing my personal game of Ms. Pac-Man, mentally gobbling up the imaginary dots on the roads as I went, I also did some pretend trail running, opting to run the unpaved shoulder of the road when the opportunity presented itself.
  5. Like the idea of pretend games?  Try this one: run along the very edge of the road and pretend you'll step off of a cliff if you cross the line.  See how long it takes before you get a bit psyched out by that.  (Speaking of psyched out, when did people stop saying "Psych!" in conversation to indicate they were just kidding? Does that date me?)
Bottom line for yesterday: the sun was sunny and the game was funny and the temps were mild enough that I didn't have to wear anything that read SmartWool or Breath Thermo or the like.  In fact, I only needed two thin layers.

Perhaps that is what contributed to the mood enhancement I experienced?  Surely it helped.  Or maybe it was the endorphins?  In the end, whichever way you cut it, I was happy I had gotten out and done this.  A definite lesson was learned yesterday.  If you are dreading doing a run, you really do still have to get out and give it a shot.  Sure, there are days it may not work, but then again, there are days like yesterday where it just might.

Finally, because I like to form habits and maintain them for as long as humanly possible, here is week three of my Friday Roundup.  Read through it.  There are some real nuggets of wisdom in there.  Psych!


Synopsis: Kind of an up-and-down week for me.  I accomplished what I set out to do, but because of a change in this weekend's plans, my planned long run on Friday was pushed back to its regularly scheduled timeslot.  If things happen for a reason, then this was definitely a good thing as my lower legs have been unhappy with me lately.  I think the iffy footing we had for so long (read: lots of ankle turns), adding a hill workout, and ramping up in mileage have taken their toll.  I am taking each day at a time right now.
Saturday: 10-Mile group run. Of course I was the slowest in the group, but I had a couple of folks hang back with me, which was nice.  I don't understand why people get all freaked out by the idea of the group run because they think they are too slow.  If you can run by yourself, you can run a group run slow, because essentially they amount to about the same thing.  I got lucky this week.
Sunday: 6-Mile run
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Yoga class - Power Vinyasa (hot).  First time in a long time and I noticed it.  Experienced soreness in my shoulders, arms, hips, hammies, and quads - just about everything.
Wednesday: 4.4-mile group run.
Thursday: 40-minute walk with Miss Dog
Friday: 7.85-Mile Run
Total Mileage: 28.25 


  1. I have found that sometimes heading to new neighborhoods helps with my running..if I run the same place over and over again I get really bored. Although sounds like your game worked for you though :)

    1. Agreed. I like to change up location as well. Or, if I have to run the same routes over and over again, then even tackling them backwards can be a help!

  2. Yes....I think we all have those days. Sometimes mind games are the only things that get me out the door. Good job getting it done! :)

  3. I had a really tough long run on Thursday that I was unable to complete. Come Saturday, I had 5 miles on the schedule and I just didn't want to do it. I worried that running was starting to become a chore for me. Then I remembered this post and decided to go out really really slowly, go down whatever street that struck my fancy and only do it for as long as it was fun. So I wandered down bike paths, tackled hills, and I got 4.5 miles in this way.

    Thanks for the mind game. =)

    1. Glad this was able to help someone! It's really tough to get out there sometimes, isn't it? But it sure feels good when we do it anyway. Btw., this really made my day. Was feeling totally sorry for myself with my cold, so it was nice to see someone able to get out there and enjoy a run!