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The Most Boring Workout On Earth

Posted Feb 12 2013 12:17pm
"Toughen up, buttercup". 

Ok, no one said that to me, I said it to myself. And I'm calling everything buttercup lately, I watched the Princess Bride this weekend while I was snowed in by Blizzard Nemo (for those of you who don't watch children's movies every day like me, Buttercup is the Princess' name). 

But it was something I needed to hear.

As I talked about in yesterday's post, I've been in a running funk the past week or so. I've felt stressed and tired, it's too cold out, my back hurts, I hate getting snow in my shoes, I'm sick of the treadmill, the dog ate my homework... You get the idea. I just didn't want to run.

I still kind of feel that way, it's kind of scary how lethargy breeds itself so quickly. One missed day of exercise turns into two, then you decide you've blown the week anyway, might as well just sit on the sidelines for the rest of it. Before you know it, you've been sitting on the sidelines for too long and you've got work to do just to get back to where you were. 

But being a runner, and especially a distance runner, means that you have to be able to tune that voice out, the one who wants to stop or take the night off because it's cold out. Because when you get to mile 18 of a marathon, that voice is going to be getting awfully loud and at mile 23 she'll be screaming. Practice telling her where to go and how to get there now!

Last Night's Workout

- I should start by telling you that I find the treadmill difficult. I need a zillion distractions to tolerate running on it for any distance - case in point:

I strapped my laptop to the treadmill with straps from my gym bags clipped together so that I could watch movies/ seasons of a tv show while I ran on Saturday. This distracted me from the boredom of staring at the wall while running on a hamster wheel or from thinking about how hard the run felt, which I tend to do way too much of on the treadmill. 

This is why I find the treadmill so hard compared to running outdoors - when I run outside, I'm looking at what's going on around me and the scenery is always changing. It's HARD when you're thinking about how hard you're working!

Making silly faces while running is harder
than it looks - I just look awkward!

Last night's run was just a short one, but it was intense, with lots of incline (all between 1 and 3.5) and changing it up randomly. I've dubbed this workout "The Most Boring Workout On Earth" - I purposely didn't let myself have any distractions - no music, no tv, not even a magazine. And worst of all: no covering up the 'total distance' counter!

I find watching the 'total distance' number to be very much akin to watching a pot of water boil... It seems to take forever. But forcing myself to deal with all of these things makes me face one of the things I find most difficult about running. And I definitely feel stronger and mentally tougher after sticking it out last night. 

The inspiration for this "Most Boring Workout On Earth" comes from Chrissie Wellington. The following is a quote from her book "A Life Without Limits":

There is a lot of repetitive activity in an athlete's life, particularly in ironman, and you need to learn to handle it. The best way of improving your capacity to endure boredom is to endure boredom. Spend time training on your own and challenge your mind to stay focused. We had a room in Leysin that we called the dungeon, where the treadmill was. It was airless with no windows and if you stretched your arms out you could touch either wall. It smelled of the sweat and tears of previous workouts. The radio was broken. Brett used to send athletes down there for sessions. He made some... run entire marathons down there"
We don't just have to train our bodies for sport, you also have to train your brain. In the ultra marathon I am running this summer, I know I will be out on the trails alone for a very long time, and I won't have the luxury of watching a season of the Girls Next Door when things get monotonous. This is when training your mind to stay engaged will come in handy!!

Which do you find harder, running outside or treadmill running?
- treadmill x 295,902. I find the same pace MUCH harder on the treadmill than outside.

Do you watch tv while you run? Music?
- I prefer tv - music drives me nuts while I'm running. When I started running I couldn't run without it; now I don't ever listen to music while running. A friend recommended audiobooks though, especially for long training runs. I'm excited to try it!

Anyone having PANCAKES for dinner?
- me!!!

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