It probably wasn’t a good idea to try a new running technique just when the Portland weather is really starting to heat up and I wasn’t exactly in the mood for an afternoon run. But on Facebook, Runner’s World posted some article about how to get motivated when you don’t feel like running and I started to feel guilty. Then I remembered another article they posted recently, called Find Zen Through Running.
My first mile was a warm-up. The same way I would do things like every other day, and it was easier than I expected. Right at mile two, I started trying to find my “zen.”
The Tune In strategy said, “Pay attention to how you are breathing, how your feet are landing, how your arms are swinging. If you feel any tense areas (clenched fists or tight shoulders), relax them.” I really focused on this for half a mile, and then things started to shift. My mind was tired of paying attention, it just wanted to listen to Miley Cyrus! And I realized how freaking hot it was outside, and I was really “tuning in” to how hard I was sweating. The 74 degree weather (compared to our normally 47 degree rain) was like a furnace blast, even when standing still at a crosswalk.
Never fear! The next strategy is Think Happy, “…athletes who rated themselves calm and happy before a competition performed better than those who were angry or tense.” Who commissed that researched? University of Duhhhhh? I kept saying to myself, “Hey! You’re injury free, you have no worries right now and damnnnn you’re outfit looks legit,” but I couldn’t stop tuning into my stupid body, and then I had to pee.
At this point, I really tried to Accept the Challenge, “Monster hills, uncooperative weather, and monotonous long runs can turn an enjoyable experience into a frustrating one—if you allow them to.” On pretty much every other run, I already do this. And I do it by tuning OUT! My runs have tons of hills, and frequently terrible weather (hel-lo Portland!), but I just zone out. I listen to Miley. But no amount of Miley could reverse how hot and exhausted I felt.
And finally Love the Run was out of the question, “While it’s good to want to improve, you also need to value the runner you are today.” Frankly, all I wanted to do today was get in an easy 5k and call it good. No focus on speed or hills, just finish. But by the 2.87 I was like “Screw this run!” and I walked home. I never walk home.
When I got home, I glanced at myself in the mirror and my mascara was running down my face like I was The Crow, and my left arch ached like a bitch.
This reminds me that my own personal running strategies work for me (quite well, I might add) and so it’s kind of silly to mess with that. Of course, I’m always into trying something new or fine tuning what I’ve got, but I naively assumed that Runner’s World had some magic potion and that was dumb on my part.
Last year I wrote a post, Running and Roleplaying, and I think it deserves a revisit…I should have used it today.
Today I ran a nice five mile run on what I like to call my “West Hills Fantasy Loop.” We live on the EDGE of the West Hills, though I’m sure true West Hills residents would consider us tawdry and unkempt. My run takes me into the back neighborhoods that were once farmlands and are now estates of wealthy families that have Lexus SUVs and gated entrances. My favorite one has a hidden stable and a manicured mini-orchard that I pass while cutting down a path from an elementary school.
But while the scenic view of my run often energizes me to run faster or farther (I can’t look like a schlump as those BMW ladies pass me – I must look like I belong there!), today my legs felt like lead. It was a surprisingly easy day at school and I had a nice, nutritious lunch so I had no excuses. Then my phone died (which meant no music, or tracking my distance). It was time to dig deep.
At the back of my mind was also the fact that I feel a plateau coming on. I’ve been able to run my fantasy loop (varying between 4-6 miles) pretty comfortably, but my speed hasn’t been improving to the point that I’m satisfied. At these moments, I like to employ a couple strategies I use to give myself a “speed boost.” Many people just turn up their music, or play their favorite song. As most of you know, the status quo just isn’t my style.
Five Proven Ways to Increase My Speed
1. Pretend my shoes are on fire. Yes, I really do this. I visualize how they leave flames behind me, and make me look really bad ass to the cars that pass by.
2. Pretend I’m chasing a purse snatcher. Sometimes it’s my purse, sometimes it’s the purse of a little old lady. Either way, that bastard is gonna pay.
3. Pretend I’m being chased by a rapist. This one really kicks me into overdrive.
4. Pretend I’m in a commercial. Form is really important for this one, and sometimes a smile. This one is easy if I’m running around the Nike campus.
5. Pretend I’m a bank robber. I just stole a bag of money and I better haul ass out of there or I’m headed for the big house…or worse. I like to employ this one when I see a cop car (though I sometimes wonder if they ever notice how I suddenly run away from them at a high speed).
So if your runs are getting a little boring, I highly recommend a little role playing by yourself.