Today’s run (6.35 miles in 51:58) had several highlights. First, the weather was almost picture perfect. At 63 degrees with a slight breeze, I couldn’t have asked for a better morning. The sun just cleared the horizon and the day was beginning. Birds were chirping, grass was still wet with morning dew, and no traffic. No traffic beyond a few other runners venturing out to enjoy the weather as well. It was one of those mornings that was close to perfect.
Second, thanks to no distractions, my mind was free to wander. I ran a normal route within my neighborhood, but added a twist by reversing the route. It sounds like a simple change, but it’s funny the different details you notice running on the other side of the street. I noticed details I’ve never seen before, or if so, have long forgotten them. This led my mind to wander to another tangent. As I was running, I tried this concept of a “mental odometer.” I challenged myself not to look at my GPS enabled watch and instead determine in my mind at what distance in my run I currently was. It worked well for the first few miles — choosing a location on the run and calculating in my mind what distance it represented. 1.5 miles, 2.5 miles — I was doing pretty good — usually within a few tenths of a mile.
But even though this type of thought process helps pass the time and allows your mind to concentrate on something other than running, there is a danger to consider as well. That danger is overestimating how far you have ran. For example, by mile three, I was sure my estimate was still holding up. A quick glance at my watch proved that I was 0.16 of a mile short of mile three. That can be a major blow to your thought process. I equate this to the thoughts that I believe everyone who has ran a half or full marathon has possessed at least once: “This course must be long — the people who marked this course made the course too long.” Unfortunately, I have those thoughts quite a bit towards the end of the race when each mile seems to get longer instead of staying the same distance. Don’t despair, though. This danger can be quickly resolved. Reset your “mental odometer” and try again. Just to be on the safe side, I always try to underestimate the distance just a little, then I can reassure myself my “mental odometer” is back on track. It might sound corny, but if you’re invested the time to run, it helps to find a way that makes it more enjoyable for yourself. Doing that helps guarantee you’ll be out there the next day as well — trying to refine your “mental odometer” or whichever mental trick you choose to help pass the time.