Over the last few months, my weekly mileage has been increasing quite significantly. I am now at the stage where I can pace myself to feel like I can run indefinitely. Cardio wise – I am close to the best shape I have ever been in, physically – my body is mostly coping with the added pressure it’s under (when it doesn’t cope, it has always been because of me pushing too hard, mis – pacing myself or similar).
The hardest thing I have found is preventing boredom! I consider myself to be quite a creative guy so I feel that I need quite a bit of mental stimulation to keep working as hard as I need to. When I am running, it is such a repetitive task that my mind decides it doesn’t want to do it anymore so starts sending signals to my working muscles that they are in pain, they need rest or, this has happened to me at least twice, my legs just stop moving! Because of this, I have been experimenting with different ways to prevent boredom when running and here are some of the solutions that are working for me:
When I was a child, I used to enjoy poetry (I did this secretly as I thought it would be seen as somewhat uncool!) I used to enjoy reading it and I was known to have a crack at writing my own little rhymes every now and again.
During the day, I tend to have my headphones on quite a lot and I usually switch between listening to music, listening to motivational speeches or listening to poetry. As a side note one of my favorites is ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling.
Whilst listening to this one day I started wishing I had more time each day so I could get the creative juices flowing again and start writing some poems like I did as a child. Then it hit me – I spend so much time running that I can use my runs as my creative time.
So now when I feel my mind begin to wander away from running, I start a poem. Sometimes, I only ever get a couple of lines done and then there are times when I have a multi verse thing of beauty (I’m not going to win any awards but I like them).
Sometimes I can’t remember what I have created and other times I write them down when I get home. I might read them back one day after my record attempt so I can see what my mind was coming up with during my months of training!
My second technique for combating boredom is mentally jumping myself forward in time. Sometimes, I imagine myself at the end of my current run. I think about a nice warm coffee, a refreshing shower or whatever I am going to eat. Every now and again, I go one step further and imagine myself in the more distant future. Lately it has been arriving at the John O’Groats sign post which will signal the end of my record attempt. I think about how I want it to be and how I will feel etc.
Occasionally, I go even further than that and imagine myself in retirement. I think about how I want my life to be, the house I will be living in and the lifestyle I hope to have.
Each time I time jump, I end up at a random point in the future. A lot of the time, it generates an idea that I want to work on and develop, while other times it is complete rubbish that makes no sense and I wonder what on earth am I thinking?!
I really enjoy my little time jumps and I hope to develop them more as I continue my training and my mileage continues to increase.
This is my new technique and it seems to fit my mentality perfectly. For those who don’t know me very well, I have a small obsession with the apocalypse. I don’t think it will ever happen but I have always enjoyed thinking about what it would take to survive as one of the last remaining humans on the planet.
One of my favorite ever TV shows is The Walking Dead. While I think it has lost it’s way in recent series, I always enjoy seeing a good zombie show.
Recently I discovered the app – Zombies, Run. This combines running with my love of zombie shows! Basically, you can have your music playing as normal but every now and again you will hear a radio transmission from your group of survivors saying what they need you to pick up for supplies, telling you a horde of zombies is close to you so you need to run faster etc.
You get to complete missions such as distracting a horde while engineers fix the gate to your camp that is stuck open, rescuing a lost child and similar. I find this a great way to keep my mind busy while my body just gets on with putting one foot in front of the other.
This is slowly becoming my favourite distraction technique to prevent boredom while running.
These three techniques are my go to boredom busters at the moment. I am sure my list will grow the more I run but for now, these are keeping my wandering mind on track and heading for a world record.