The Art of Distraction

The funny thing about running is, sometimes the run is not what your were originally visualizing.

Now that I am back running, I was really looking forward to my run today. I thought for sure that it was going to be a good one. I mean, I just did a very comfortable 5 miler the other day, how could I not have an easy time running today?

That’s the thing… runs are unpredictable. Our bodies are unpredictable. The weather is sometimes unpredictable. There are all sorts of factors that could interfere with how your run will be.

About two months ago I made a wish. I wished that I would just be able to run on my birthday. It didn’t matter how far or how fast, I just wanted to be able to run pain free. Once I got back running a couple weeks ago, I thought today’s run was going to be perfect. NOT!

First, I woke up later than usual. No kids overnight and I was a bit tired- I had wanted to sleep in on this special day. I lingered a tad too long in bed I think. Then I was completely indecisive about where I would run. I was lucky my work said I could come in an hour later than normal, but I still feel stressed sometimes about getting stuff done-even with my easy part-time work schedule. I went back and forth on wether or not I should run Phoenix Lake, a place that is so beautiful I would’ve really enjoyed the scenery on my birthday. But the loop is a little long for me right now and I would have a few hills to deal with.  Plus it is a good 15 minute plus drive both directions from my house which would waste 30 plus minutes of my day. That would stress me out a little. There was the route I took on Sunday along the bay, with views of San Francisco in the distance. But, it was something I just did and also the same route to work, so I didn’t feel like going that way either. On top of my indecisiveness, the temps outside were rising. It was going to be a hot one-90 degrees at the mid day point.

perfect weather for my special day, but maybe not a run?
perfect weather for my special day, but maybe not for a run?

Then I was having some GI issues and that delayed me a bit. At this point, I decided that I should just leave my house and run a shorter loop near home, about 4 miles.

it seemed important to wear something pretty today, so I  put on a pink skirt!
it seemed important to wear something pretty today, so I put on a pink skirt!

Finally around 9 am! I left the house. Did I mention that is was hot outside. Or that I didn’t really eat anything except a quarter of a banana. I think I was under fueled, but I hate eating before a run, even though I was hungry.

You get the picture, the run wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be. I felt tired,   old… (I’m er… 40… eh hem, 8 today), hot, and under fueled. On top of all that, I think I was defeated before I started. Our minds are so powerful. I tried to turn it around mentally. A few times. I pressed on with the run, and even took about 3 walk breaks of maybe an eighth of a mile a piece a few times. Plus two breaks for water at the one fountain, going out and coming in. Did I mention it was super hot today?

After 3 miles of trying to turn it around, I decided to distract myself from the run, a trick I have done many times when I am feeling tired and want to quit. I started to sing (out loud) what was playing on my iPod. At that moment it was an odd song, Barbra Streisand from A Star is Born, I Believe in Love.

The distraction, was working, that is, until some gal came up along side me, passed me and then I was mortified that she may have heard me! I think she thought I was some freak-singing while I run, while I was thinking… shit… she passed me! Sad face. I stopped singing and kept close behind her. She eventually crossed the street at a light and ran parallel to me. She seemed like she was hurting a bit too, (remember, it was super hot) and somehow, I ended up ahead of her on my side of the street. I couldn’t even see her in my peripheral vision, but then as I did my last walk break she reappeared and passed me. Oh well… I was almost home.

not my best, but somehow i kept going
not my best, but somehow i kept going

Needless to say, when I got home, I was somewhat bummed it didn’t go quite as planned but I reminded myself that at least I was running and got my wish-I ran on my birthday. This was something that I didn’t think would happen when I wished it.

When I got home, I sucked down something I haven’t had in a long while… orange gatorade:

hello old friend
hello old friend–i forgot how good you taste! i instantly felt rejuvenated

Followed by my latest breakfast of champions: Oatmeal chocolate peanut butter banana protein shake. There’s about 30 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber in this shake.

My stomach was still not feeling so well, but I did my best to not let it wreck the rest of my day.

Having a smoothie made for not being able to use this, our family tradition since 1997:

our family birthday tradition ~ sadly i didn't use this morning
our family birthday tradition ~ sadly i didn’t use it this morning since you can’t drink off of it!

And since I was at work and then had a dinner out with my kids and parents, I never got to use the birthday plate at all.

What do you do to distract your mind from the negative thoughts while running?


6 thoughts on “The Art of Distraction

  1. Happy birthday 🙂
    I love tht you sang out-loud on your run, that’s so brave! I just wouldn’t have the confidence (either that or someone would knock me out as I sing so badly).
    I tend to listen to a podcast if I know it’s going to be a hard run. Then at leats I can listen to something interesting and it helps take my mind off of the run.

    1. My kids tell me all the time that when I run on the treadmill and sing I sound just awful. Generally I try to do it when no one is around (outside), sometimes I just don’t care though. It makes ME feel good! I’ve never tried a podcast before… will look into that.

      Thanks for the birthday wish. 🙂

  2. First, happy birthday!

    Second, I’m thrilled that you’re running again, too.

    Third, it’s so hard to fight the negative thoughts. When that happens, I try to think about anything except running. If you can get your mind to focus on something else, a childhood memory, a challenge at work, future travel plans, that helps me break the link between negative thoughts and the pain of running.

    1. Thanks Jack! I’m thrilled that I’m running again too. I will try some of your suggestions. I did a make-up run Saturday and it was much better. I didn’t feel any pressure to run and I kept my thoughts to telling myself that I have strong legs, and I’m doing great. That really helped. Running is such a mental game, it’s really interesting. More good stuff to come I hope! Take care. ~M

  3. Happy birthday!!! I had a similar experience on my birthday in March. I was grappling with a month-long (hip stabilizer) injury. I wasn’t quite pain-free but was much improved from the setback I had from pushing through what felt like a great return run the week prior. It was a warm beautiful day and I just HAD to get out there.

    So i scraped together a run/walk, ignored
    the fact that my calf was hurting probably from overcompensation for the injured hip, and did a short out and back along the Embarcadero. It wasn’t pretty and I survived. I got my birthday wish.

    That led to 3 weeks of being benched from not only the same achey hip but also an achey calf. Ah well. :).

    1. Thanks for the birthday wish! Yeah, it stinks when you can’t do a fun run on your own bday, but at least we got in something, right? I hope you are fully recovered and running again. I did get to make up my run a couple days later and it was fantastic! Take care! 🙂

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