If you didn’t already know, I’ve signed up to a half marathon next weekend. It’s my first half and to say I’m bricking it is an understatement.
I’ve literally just got back from a two week family holiday in Sicily during which I ate ALL the food, drank ALL the wine and did next to no running (well OK I snuck out a couple of times, but we’re hardly talking anything of epic proportion!) so all the prep I did beforehand kinda feels like it’s gone to waste somewhat.
If I’m honest, I do think I’m capable of it from a physical sense; a couple of long, tough runs with the runnyhoneys certainly proved I’ve got it in me to run that far without keeling over and dying…just! No, for me it’s all about the mental side of things and if you read my article a while back ‘How To Keep Running When Your Head Says No!‘ you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that I’m basically a kid disguised as an adult and the only thing that gets me through most things in life is to turn things into a game. With that being the case, I figure that if I’m gonna get through this half marathon in one piece then I’m gonna have to make it fun, so let me present you with my ideas for fun games to play when you’re on a long run:
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
An obvious one really, but first and foremost running as a team is always gonna be way more fun than running solo, so if you’ve signed up to a race make sure you cajole some running friends to run it with you. Chances are they’ll be up for the challenge, but if they’re not then there’s no shame in resorting to blackmail…most girls I know will do anything for a glass or two of prosecco 😉
Spur each other on, support, compete, challenge whatever works for you, but make sure you choose your friends wisely to make sure they’re a) at roughly the same running level and happy to stick with you and b) willing to put up with your chat/moans/humour (delete as appropriate). Get your dream team sorted and you can start having all kinds of fun, plus if you really start to annoy the hell out of each other it may make you run that little bit faster and that means it’ll all be over a lot sooner than planned!
Play ‘It Could Be Worse…’
You’re halfway through your long run, you hurt, you’re hungry and in all honesty you’re beginning to wonder why on earth you signed up to this, but do you know what… it could be worse. Yep, when you hit that downward spike in your run, that right there is the perfect time to start playing ‘It could be worse’.
It pretty much does what it says on the tin, but let me explain…
Every time someone has a moan about anything, follow it up with “it could be worse…you could have just had one of your legs bitten off by a shark” or “it could be worse…Donald Trump could be your dad”. The badder the worseness the higher the points, but best of all it’ll take your mind off of the original moan, it’ll get you all laughing and it will remind you that actually there’s a whole heap of things out there that are way, way worse than what you’re doing right now!
I’m not asking you to start figuring out long division in your head, nor am I telling you to start discussing Pythagoras’s theorem with your run buddies, jeez that ain’t gonna do you any favours whatsoever. No, what I mean is try breaking down the numbers with a few clever mind tricks that’ll make those miles seem not half as bad. It’s really important not to fixate too much on the distance when you’re running a longy, so instead of thinking about how far you’ve still got to run try to focus only on the next one, two or three miles. You know you can run that kind of distance with ease so just keep that distance in your mind. If you really fancy it you could do the old converting miles to kms or vice versa trick to keep your mind super busy, but I’m way more basic than that so I figure I’m just gonna go with something like counting how many red shorts, or tutus I see (yes female charity runners I see you!).
Running Rhyme Time
See how many things you can rhyme with running related words in the time it takes you to run say 1 mile. Let’s kick this off with the word ‘pace’…race, trace, grace, chase…you get the idea. Take it in turns to come up with a rhyme and rotate around the group. Whoever can’t think of a word has to do some kind of forfeit like I dunno…chuck a cup of water over their head at the next water station.
Or if you fancy doing something on your own, why not invent funny running related limericks in your head, for instance:
There was a young girl from London,
Who thought she would join in a run.
She had all the gear,
But no clear idea,
Of how people thought this was fun.
Pretty sure you lot can come up with something better than that, so please send some my way if you do, as I’d love to read them 🙂
This game’s fab and you can really let your imagination go to town. If you love people watching then you are going to love this one, as it’s all about watching other runners around you and trying to guess what their name are, what they do for a living and what they like to do in their spare time. Obviously unless you’re planning on asking them, you’re never actually going to find out, but that just makes the game more fun. Invent outlandish stories about them, the crazier the better, just try and make sure you’re not spotted smirking at them in some strange unhinged manner.
You must have played this game before, where you choose a category like animals for example and try to work your way through the alphabet thinking of one for each letter? Well, it’s that but with a running twist. Whilst running, look out for something that begins with each letter of the alphabet, for example: A is for Asics, B is for Bracken, C is for Charity Runner, D is for Do I Really Have To!!!
This should entertain you for a relatively large chunk of the run, but if you’re keen to take your mind of running altogether then have a go at thinking of 26 things you’d rescue from your house if it was on fire, or 26 things you’ll say to your run leader next time she convinces you to sign up to a half marathon…oh, just me then!
Death Row Meal
Bit morbid I grant you, but I love thinking about food and I’m guessing I’m gonna feel like death at some point during the run, so might as well combine the two, right!?! So the question is if you were or death row and you only had the chance to eat one more three course meal, what would it be? I won’t share mine now, because well I want to save something for me to think about when I’m running, but I reckon it would deffo feature chocolate and seafood. Hey and if you really get into the prisoner way of thinking, why not work out what crime you committed to end up on death row in the first place, kind of like you’re featuring in your own version of Cluedo.
What Colour Knicks
I know, I know this one’s verging on the wrong side of pervy, but seriously I’m grasping at straws here and if trying to guess the colour of someone’s pants helps get me through it then hey I’m a perv. It does involve a fair amount of bum watching, so make sure you don’t get caught rear goggling too much, however it is a fun game and will certainly keep you entertained for a mile or so. Whatever works, right!?!
That’s it, pretty ridiculous I know and most of it is all very tongue in cheek, but I tell you what I think I’m actually gonna have a go at doing some of these, spesh if it does manage to take my mind off the running. Oh and Lizzie, Clare, Sarah and any other runnyhoney who has the (mis)fortune of sharing the race with me…I apologise in advance if you were hoping for a lovely tranquil run through the New Forest, quietly reflecting on your journey as a runner, because unfortunately if you’ve got me huffing and puffing by your side I’m not so sure that’s gonna happen 😉
Do You Play Mind Games When You’re On A Long Run?
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