I have lost count of the number of times I have met a person and they have said to me, “I would love to be a runner but I get so bored that I can’t keep going.” I have literally heard this countless times. I often smile and shrug it off. But this past Sunday I was on a gorgeous eight mile run and the weather was perfect. Somewhere along the trail I looked at my GPS and realized I had completely lost track of my mileage. The reason why was because I tend to get lost in my thoughts on runs.
This brought me back to the many times I have heard about how boring running is and it seriously got me thinking. To be quite honest, and I think many other runners would agree, I find so many things about running to be so far from dull.
Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when running was incredibly difficult and it took everything in me to focus on getting through three miles. I would count those miles down, even to the tenth of a mile. But as running became more natural and I found my comfort zone, everything changed. Okay there are still those runs that end with me counting the tenths of miles down, but they don’t happen nearly as often as they used to.
I spent my workout on Sunday thinking about this excuse, “Running is boring.” The fact is, a lot of things we do in our life are pretty dull. My commute to work is not very fun. Work itself at times can be rather lifeless. I once had a weekend job working at a hospital and sometimes during the summer a full 8 hour shift would go by without a single person coming in. As an administrator that meant absolutely no paper work, and pretty much nothing to do.
I would be willing to bet that most people would consider their jobs to be rather tame, if not “boring.” I rarely hear from someone who tells me how about how wildly in love they are with their jobs. Usually people tell me about how much extra time they have to kill at work. And yet, most of us continue to work a minimum of eight hours a day, every day and manage to not poke our eyes out.
We don’t quit our jobs. I don’t skip driving to work. Instead we find ways to make our days at work go by faster. We listen to music on the way or catch up on the news on NPR as we drive. We scroll through social media on our computers or play games. I got so good at Mine Sweeper (boy am I aging myself here) when I worked at the hospital.
Running, isn’t that much different from a lot of other things we do on a daily basis. It isn’t always easy, and at times it isn’t thrilling either. But when we alter our mindset or focus on something different for awhile, everything changes.
At first I used music as my main distraction. But nowadays I also do things like create and repeat grocery lists (I need milk, strawberries and pears. Milk, strawberries, and pears). I also think of to do lists or things I need to take care of when I get home. I solve so many problems or things that are rattling around in my brain when I am alone on the trail.
So how do you get past that boring mental hurdle? First of all, remember that everyone has this roadblock at some point. Running is physically as well as mentally challenging. It is easy to psyche yourself out, or into thinking you are spent.
Break your run into pieces. Tell yourself you are going to go a half a mile and then reassess. Odds are once you get that far, you will be game to go for another half mile and so on until you meet your goal.
Distract yourself. Music is a great way to change your focus. Pick songs that get you going or have a great beat to move to. Download some fun podcasts or even a book. If you are pressed for time but love to read, this is a great time to get a workout in and catch up on your “reading.” If all else fails build your grocery list and keep building it and repeating it as you run!
Play some games. You know I love fartleks just about as much as I like to say fartlek. These are fun speed play games where you set the rules. Run for awhile and then slow the pace down to recover. Pick an amount of time to run and then give yourself a break or use a destination as a spot to run to.
Most of all, remember that running gets easier just as anything else does when you give it time. Be patient with yourself. Remember all of the exciting things running can offer as you continue. There are so many fun places you can jog to or wonderful sights to see. And seriously, it can’t be any less exciting than sitting on the stationary bike, or swishing back and forth on the elliptical at the gym!