When I am running, I try not to think about the fact that I’m running. That is because running sucks. Anyone who tells you running doesn’t suck is a liar. Have you ever seen the runners at the end of the Boston Marathon? They are thrilled to cross the finish line because it means they don’t have to run any farther. Even the fast people are exhausted at the end of the race.
I love running too, even though it sucks. I love the happy chemicals it releases in my body. I get a great feeling of accomplishment after I survive a race. Sometimes, I even feel like a graceful, yet powerful gazelle, jaunting across the Sahara, even though I probably look more like a chubby housecat sprinting for a bag of Friskies. Still, running is uncomfortable. It makes me breathe hard and leaves me very sweaty and sticky and stinky.
This is why I try to ignore the fact that I am running while I am running. I didn’t quite realize that I was doing, until I started reading one of the latest bestselling social science books, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. I don’t have kids, but it’s fascinating to learn about why humans are the way they are, be they kids or not. Chapter Eight is about self-control, and it mentions a Russian study from the 1950’s where they asked kids to stand still as long as they could. The kids lasted two minutes. Then they asked another group of kids to pretend they were guards who had to stand still at their posts. These kids lasts eleven minutes.
When I run, sometimes I pretend that I am somewhere other than a boring gray fitness room. Sometimes I am in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, chasing down vampires. Other times I am trying to escape a building before a bomb explodes. I have even been known to pretend I am a spy trying to outrun pursuers after I have stolen secret data that is stored in the disk partition of my MP3 player. All of this is quite silly of course, but it keeps my mind off of the running and even makes running a kind of game. It’s not work, it’s play! If I’m exhausted, I can pretend it’s only 2:47 minutes to the border! I can’t stop now! Try it sometime and working out might be more like play.