It's definitely gotten better since I started. I have runs that have gone better than others, and I've had portions of runs where it actually felt good. Those are the best: when I enjoy running and feel strong and smooth. For all the other times, I have a short repertoire of strategies to keep me from obsessing over every remain inch:
- Trail running-too busy watching my footing and the scenery to think about how long I've been running
- Making my laps "bigger", i.e. (3) 2-mile laps instead of (6) 1-mile laps on my 1-mile route
- Mentally composing my blog as I run
- Running with my iPod
- Letting my mind wander
I'm pretty comfortable with the plan I have (and, as already established, I'm not a non-runner, lol), but I was interested to see how the book stacked up against what I know/have heard. The most interesting parts for me were the mental techniques discussed. The book is strong on positive visualizations ("see yourself as a marathoner...imagine yourself crossing the finish line...", but it also covered two different types of techniques used during long runs: associative and dissociative. Dissociative is what I do, tune out; associative is the opposite, really focusing on what you're doing as you run.
The authors write "...if your objective is to make the runs go by quickly [bingo!] dissociating is probably the way to do that. However, if you enjoy running or even succeed in achieving flow while running, then [your runs] may be one of the highlights of your day and you do not want to "miss" them by dissociating." They add that using dissociation results in only training your body, not your mind. I can definitely see that. My "mental game" is definitely weak. Turns out maybe I'm just doing the wrong kind of thinking (I guess "10 miles to go...9.8 miles to go...9.7 miles to go....9.5 mile to go...." isn't productive? Who knew?) Some of their recommendations:
- "focus on the running itself"
- focus on form
- "develop the feeling that you are an inexhaustible machine" (that makes me snicker a little)
- focus on the movements of your body and the sensations you're feeling (unfortunately, for me this would sound like, "I'm going to die. I can't breathe. My knee hurts. Now my shin hurts. Knee again.")
- try to think of 25 reasons for running as you run
- go through the alphabet naming adjectives for yourself for each letter (Amazing...Bold...Cheerful...)
- concentrate on your breathing
My question: what do you do to pass the time while you're on those long runs? Do you tune in or tune out? Is there something specific that you do?