Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mind Games

One of my goals for the new year is to increase my running speed. I’d like to move up from the back of the pack to the middle of the pack in local races. Finishing a 5k without feeling like I’m going to die is a secondary goal, but I can only focus on one thing at a time, so speed is the big priority now. I use the term “speed” loosely, by the way since I’m a loooong way from a 6 minute mile. I couldn’t do a six minute mile if a tornado were chasing me. I need some help and I’m not rich enough for a personal coach so I did what any American does when he needs free information these days…I Googled it….and then went to the library. I loaded up last week on running books and have been soaking up all kinds of advice. I’ve been trying to put that advice to good use on my latest runs, but it’s kind of tricky because most of it involves mental exercises. The experts say to use positive thinking when you’re running, but I can’t seem to get the knack of it. For instance:

What I’m supposed to tell myself when adding an extra mile: “I think I can. I think I can.”
What I say: “You have freakin’ lost your mind if you think I can add one more mile. Besides high blood pressure can’t be that bad. Maybe I’ll just quit salting all of my vegetables.”

What I’m supposed to tell myself when I’m starting to lag: “Just focus on getting to the end of this block. Then keep going and focus on the end of the next block.”
What I say: “If I hang a left on the other side of this building, I can cut through their yard, dodge two pit bulls, hit that alley and be back to home base in no time.”

What is supposed to motivate me to get out there on days when I don’t feel like it: The good feeling I’ll get when I’m done.
What really works: Someone running backwards in front of me and dangling a donut on a stick.

What is supposed to be my reason for pounding the pavement: Keeping away heart attacks, stroke and diabetes.
What actually makes me do it: The fear of my backside becoming the size of my grandma’s.

What is supposed to be my reward for reaching a running milestone: A new jogging outfit or running shoes.
What I really get: A large chili cheese dog with fried mushrooms.

What I’m supposed to be tuned into while running: The rhythm of my heart and the pull on my muscles.
What I’m actually listening to: Dirty Prince songs from the 80’s.

What I’m supposed to be focusing on while moving down the street: One particular point in front of me.
What I’m really looking at: That hot construction worker in those tight Levis on the other side of the street.

Needless to say I’m easily distracted. Getting into the game mentally is going to take a while. I have a new tactic I’m going to try tomorrow though. I’ll run directly toward the donut store instead of to the park. And I’m going to buy a new jogging outfit now instead of later…something with pockets big enough to hold a jelly donut.


Jason said...

I admire you for your determination. I personally hate running. I could walk to China and back, but ask me to run around the block and I'll look at you like you're a nut job.

I love reading about what actually goes on in your head, versus what you're supposed to be thinking. Very insightful.

oreneta said...

I was laughing right out loud at the mental image of someone running backwards in front of you with a donut...though I confess I would probably eventually tell them where to put that donut...

The kids suggested making a hat with a special donut hanger on the front....

good luck to you, I hate running. What has seriously worked for me is a running partner who you know is waiting for you out there in the cold/heat....

janjanmom said...

Mmmmm. Donuts.

hulagirlatheart said...

A hat with a donut hanger...I love it!