The Stop Light Game


Last week Chicago was brutally cold.  I wanted to get my run in and one evening I had to head out in the dark, layered, and determined to make something happen.  I avoided even looking at the thermometer as I headed out the door because I knew it would be a terrible idea.

Lucky for me I had spent the past 10 years working as a figure skating coach at Trump Rink in Central Park.  Spending your winter days outside on an icy rink will certainly teach you cold weather preparedness.  I layered in some great Lululemon Dog Walker Pants, Under Armor Cold Gear, and the usual hat and gloves and a gaiter.  I also used my go-to trick from those frigid days on the ice, hand warmers tucked on top of my socks in the shoes and in my mittens.

Can you believe I used to be able to call this my office?!

Can you believe I used to be able to call this my office?!

Off I went.  “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself.  At the half mile point I started to feel the sting in my cheeks and shortly after I was really starting to question if I could make it the 7 miles I had planned out.  I don’t know how but at some point my tush actually went numb!

I am pretty Type A, and I had set out with a plan to run a certain route, but soon it became clear that things were going to have to change.  I came to a stop light where I would have to wait before continuing on my way and I knew stopping would be very, very bad.

Thus began the Stop Light Game.  Realizing I should just keep going, I turned and charted a new route (oh man, I hate when plans change) and then there was another light up ahead, so I took the next turn and kept running.  Things were starting to get interesting and it started to feel like a game to me.

Icy Toes.  Icicles actually formed on my laces.

Icy Toes. Icicles actually formed on my laces.

I encourage you to try this out if you are feeling a bit bored with your running or just need a change of pace.  Head out for your run and let the stop lights determine where you go.  If the light is red, turn in a direction that allows you to keep on running.  If it is green, proceed through.  You will twist and turn on a different route each time and it is pretty fun anticipating where you will go next.  Just turn around and do the same thing back home when you reach your half way point.

Once you let go and have fun with it you will have a blast, and hopefully forget that you are on your dreaded run.

I really should have taken a picture because when I got home and looked at the temperature it read 4 degrees with a  real feel of -17.  I am so glad I didn’t see that before I left.

I should note that this does not work if you live in rural areas.  I am up in Northern Michigan right now and the town I grew up in only has 2 stop lights and they are pretty far apart.  It would take me 3 miles to even get close to the first one.  If I played this game here I would have to run a marathon, perhaps even an ultra.

One of my other favorite games to get me through a treadmill run is to imagine that each mile is 3 songs long on my I-pod.  As I run I just remind myself I only have so many more songs to enjoy before I am done.  I heard Hoda Kotb say on The Today Show once that she uses this technique.  Hey if it works for her, its worth giving a shot.

Northern Michigan is awesome.  This is the former state mental institute converted into amazing market shops.

Northern Michigan is awesome. This is the former state mental institute converted into fun market shops.

Enjoying wine tasting inside the market.

Enjoying wine tasting inside the market.


Shoveling to check in on our summer cottage.  By shoveling I mean him, not me!

Shoveling to check in on our summer cottage. By shoveling I mean him, not me!

Do you have any games you play to help get you through a run or just get you out the door when you don’t want to run?

9 thoughts on “The Stop Light Game

  1. I think I might try this. I’m not great at the non-planned running, because I hate getting lost, lol. I always do the song thing though. I also have a “power song” where I run as hard as I can. Since I put my music on random, it sucks when I get it on mile 11 and 12 (out of 14). This actually helps me no skip songs when I’m fatigued in fear of the first couple of notes in the new song.

    • Yes it was the same rink as that movie. They actually were always filming one thing or another there. Last year I was doing paperwork and had the TV on but wasn’t paying attention to it. There was a random show on and when I turned around they were at the rink and in the background was my husband teaching group of little girls. It was pretty awesome!

  2. After reading this I found myself with no stoplights within 10 miles I turned this idea into the bridge game. I found 3 bridges to cross Rapid river in 8 miles.
    Thanks for the idea!

  3. Pingback: Have Fun With Your Running-A Beginner’s Guide | Running On Healthy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s