March 30, 2011

Mind Game

Can I take a minute to give myself some credit here?

It is MY blog.


Ya, I think I will.

I have trained for 13 weeks to run a half-marathon on Sunday. This is not news to you. Or if it is, where have you been? And I want to take a minute to pat myself on the back not only for sticking to the rigorous training schedule and preparing myself, but for....

Training without a running partner.


Training completely on a treadmill.

If you are a runner, you will probably want to give me a hug or at least a high five. You. get. it. If you aren't, then you probably think I am crazy anyway for participating in this sport. So I won't try to explain my gloating for accomplishing the above items.

Okay, thanks for letting me indulge for a minute. 

So to continue on with this running topic I've built up this week. I thought I would continue. I want to share something I've learned from training for this half-marathon completely on a treadmill. Because let's admit it, running on a treadmill is a battle of the boredom. So this is how I've learned to beat that. [and really, most of these help outdoor or track runners, too]

  • Tunes: This is an obvious one. But really, since you lack the distractions the outdoors brings, you HAVE to have something to entertain you. Music is the easiest way to do this. But here is the key. Create MULTIPLE playlists. Never use the same one two runs in a row. And pick which one you use wisely. I'll explain more. Keep reading.
  • Settle in For the long haul: Cover the treadmill numbers, put on a movie (if you can), and settle in at a steady pace. Think about it as you aren't exercising, but just enjoying some time to yourself. This is one of the harder things to accomplish. But I found that forgetting that I had to reach a distance during the long runs and just enjoying it, it made my long runs much easier and more enjoyable.
  • 3rds: This is a tip I learned from another blogger. Think about your run in 3rds. Each thirds change your entertainment. Or technically, she wouldn't do anything her first 3rd so she can listen to her body (which I just couldn't do, I beat my mind up if I do that), and then she changes to music and then to the tv.  Or a magazine. Or something else. But really, thinking in 3rds have really helped me. One thing I did was wear a zip up for the first 3rd of my run, then shed it for the rest of the run. It was a unique, but helpful ritual.
  • Do the Math: When I used to run with my brother-in-law, Patrick, he said that one thing he would do is do math. Things like calculate his budget or numbers involved with getting him closer to a goal. Stuff like that. It kept his mind occupied. I don't do math exactly, but I like to keep my mind occupied. I use this time to ponder. In fact, I probably do my deepest thinking while I run. I sort out a lot of problems and figure things out during this time. Not only do I kill two birds with one stone if I sort something out. I actually have learned a lot about myself while running. 
  • Fantasize: Let me give you an example for this. Yikes, I know! It's embarrassing, but not in the way you are probably thinking right now. Example:  I select my broadway playlist and imagine standing on the stage. What would it feel like? How would I be dressed? Man, my voice sounds's fantasy, so, I can sing. I totally envelope myself in something that would be a dream. I have a wild imagination, so this really could go on for a very long time. In fact, I have been known to imagine myself as Velma Kelly through the entire soundtrack of Chicago. I wasn't bored then. Plus really?! I would need to run a lot more in order to fit into the burlesque attire. But the fantasy is being a broadway star, not, ahem, a burlesque dancer.
  • Make your short runs SHORT: When you are scheduled to run a shorter distance, speed up, make the run take as little time as possible. Pick a playlist with beat and then kick it up a notch. I used my shorter runs to build muscle for sprinting to the finish line. I consistently boosted the speed on the treadmill until I couldn't anymore and then I would start over. The change in speed and pushing myself took away the boredom itself. And it really helped me to better my time overall, not just during the sprint.
  • Switch it Up: Run at an incline one mile. Run fast the next. Slow down for the next. Then do a gradual increase by 1 every 400m. Maybe I am just easily entertained, but just pushing the treadmill buttons so they say/do something different helps me...
  • Create the outdoors: It may just be me. But I have certain songs that just scream sunny day on the boardwalk of Redondo Beach, CA. I choose that playlist and imagine running with the Ocean in view, rollerbladers passing, seeing Mia Hamm (which we did actually see once during a run on the beach), feeling the humidity make me sweat so much that I end up having to take off my tank and tuck it into my shorts. Seriously, is there anything better than running on the beach?
  • Race yourself: I love, love, LOVE race day. The adrenaline of standing at the start line surrounded by other runners. Jumping. Listening for the gun/horn. Then doing small, steppy, running because it's too cramped with people Then finally the crowd starts to break up and you can start sliding in between and around runners, attempting to get ahead of just one more person. I do this on the treadmill with myself in 2 different ways. I try to beat my own time. And secondly, I try to imagine the period of time where I say to myself, "I just need to beat the lady in the purple shirt" and then boost my speed to get past her. I constantly change the speed on the treadmill so that I can recreate what a real race would feel like. Because that's what I'm doing this for, right?
Hopefully, I've made the point...running is all's in your head. Whether you get bored or not. Whether you race well or not. Or whether or not you enjoy it. Mind over matter is the moral to this story.


  1. let me say that I think you are amazing. I struggled with boredom the whole time i was training for my marathon. I did it by myself and that was the worst- I would get to mile 8 or 9 and be so bored I just couldn't go farther. You're awesome though for doing the whole thing on a treadmill- that would be ridiculously hard- please tell me you aren't doing that for the whole. Keep it up and good luck on race day!

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  3. Alana, thanks! You are sweet...and if you have tips for Krick or I as we start to prepare for the marathon, PLEASE pass them over. I know you've got a fitness background. We are looking especially for advice on nutrition and diet...if you have any.

    And no! I am not planning on training on the treadmill for the whole. I have to train for the first few weeks on the treadmill, but once I get back to SLC in May, Krick and I will be training TOGETHER and OUTDOORS!!! Very excited....