Sunday, January 31, 2016

Desperately Trying to Find the Zone

One of the ways I managed to lose 25 pounds last fall was to eat fewer calories than I expended through my ADLs and exercise. In fact, I increased my daily physical activity by 20%. Committed to keeping my weight at a healthier level, because of my risk for heart disease and diabetes, I am continuing to go to the gym at least twice during the workweek, and every Saturday and Sunday. At least during the winter months, when it is either too cold or too dark to safely exercise outside.

And OMG, do I think going to the gym is boring.

To mix up my routine, I decided to try (for the third time) the Couch25K program to train myself to run 3.1 miles without dying or embarrassing myself.

And guess what? I also think running is boring.

I started to struggle with boredom midway this morning's "run" (Week Four/Day 2 of C25K). The self-talk that goes through my head reminded me that serious runners talk about getting into "the zone". In fact, I've felt "the zone" while biking - the feeling that all I need to be doing right now is pedaling one leg at a time to keep myself moving forward. It is a wonderful, zen experience.

But I haven't hit "the zone" with my "running." I have, however, developed some strategies for keeping myself engaged in my workout. As a gift to you, I share them below:

  • Count every stride I take, and when I reach 60, check the clock to see how close the pace of my counting came to the actual pace of time. Make adjustments to syncopate my counting with real time. Repeat.
  • Look around the room for words or phrases that are static (e.g., the name of gym painted on the wall, the name of the workout machine I'm using, signs that might be nearby, etc.). Make as many new words out of these words as I possibly can. For example, how many words can YOU make out of "hydromassage"?
  • Silently imagine what I would say to the people within my field of vision about their exercise habits and general state of fitness. Things like, "You look unhealthy. You go girl for being at the gym! Rock it!" and "You do know that I can see you itching your butt as you crush it on that elliptical, right?" 
  • In the same vein, I also tell stories about the people within my field of vision. Just yesterday I saw a man within my age range with an incredible and HUGE head of hair wearing the tiniest, tightest running shorts I've seen in a while. He seriously looked like a bobble head. I then imagined that those were his favorite shorts from his collegiate field and track days. And while they clearly NO LONGER FIT HIM, it is also clear that he is unnaturally attached to the shorts, perhaps as a symbol of his younger glory days. And every time he wears them, his spouse yells at him to get rid of those ridiculous shorts because, the tiny shorts make him look ridiculous and sad and what if he runs into someone they know, and so on.  
  • Inspire myself  by repeating the following mantra over and over again, "No one gets better at anything if they quit. I can do this. I can do anything for (however long I have left in the workout or the interval) minutes." Then I start wondering about all the things I might not be able to do for xyz minutes left in my workout. Like endure water boarding at the hands of terrorist captors, or swim in an alligator-infested swamp, or tolerate Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as President. 

It's not my knees or my general state physical fitness that will end my running career. Instead, it is the boredom.

So I ask you, before I make yet another trip to the gym where I'll rearrange the letters in "Judgment Free Zone" (men, gene, jug, mug, dug, tug, zen..." to entertain myself:

  • Are you a runner who gets into the zone? 
  • What does it look like or feel like? 
  • How do you get to that place?
  • What advice do you have for a novice runner? 

Help me!

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