Four Mile Mindgames: Getting Through the Long Run

I’ve now run the four mile route at least once a week since the beginning of March.  I know it’s not the longest distance (insert evil cackle from seasoned half-marathoners and marathoners), but to me it’s pretty epic to get past the 5K distance and not die.

But, some days, I still want to die from that run–and from the shame that would come of being found, red-faced and sweaty, by my posh neighbors in a pile of run-induced death.  Yeah, I’d be dead, but I’d still be pretty mortified when I remembered it in my next life.

But I digress, much like I dawdled this morning before hitting the road.  I stretched and hoped to feel a kink, a stomach-ache, an anything that would make me reasonably feel ok about staying home and not running four miles.

Since nothing was wrong, I set off.  After a mile and a half of feeling relatively ok,  I realized how much those four miles seem to psych me out.  I mean, I was happily prancing and mouthing lyrics at mile 2.5, so what was my major malfunction that made my stomach drop at the thought of going a measly mile and a half more?

Clearly, it was a mental thing, as so much of running is.  Subconsciously, I think that being able to run four miles means that I can run 13.1, if I try hard enough, and that obviously I’m not trying hard enough if I’m not running 13.1 yet.

In fact, most some days, the thought of tackling those four measly miles can make me panic almost as much as the thought that being out for one mile longer ups my risk of running into a snake on the road by 25% (which is clearly mathematically asinine, and I’ve never seen a snake in my neighborhood either.)

It’s this ridiculous, counterproductive thinking that seems to drop on me like a ton of bricks the second Mrs. Nike Plus tells me that I’ve completed three miles.  No wonder I quake in my shoes when I enter mile 4.

So, this morning, I made a conscious effort to banish all such ridiculous thoughts.  But how, you ask?  Mindgames, my dears:

  1. I negotiate how much I have to run before I’m allowed to walk and I stick to it.
  2. I don’t check the Nike+ for distance and pace because I know that would psych me out.
  3. I try really hard to think of other things and, if not, to focus on the houses and people I see as I go by.
  4. I remind myself that half the neighborhood is only just waking up by the time I’m done with these blasted four miles, which makes me pretty hardcore (for a geeky girl).
  5. I try to think of it as JUST four miles, not “four miles that will seem like nothing when I’m running ten miles and ten miles is going to be killer and I think my legs would fall off if I tried to run a half marathon.”  Really, I just have to shut myself up and be glad that I can run four miles and not collapse.  If this is all I have to give, I’m going to be happy with it.

So the mindgames were on this morning.  Here’s how it went down:

  • Mile 2.5:  “I bet I look super hardcore with sweat dripping down my neck.  The old guy walkers that I’ve lapped twice already must be pretty impressed.”
  • Mile 2.7:  “I can take a break at 3 miles, right?  I can take a break at three miles!  Wait, keep going, stupid–you’re just at 2.7.”
  • Mile 3:  “I can walk!!  I can also duck down my street and avoid the mile four misery. Tempting….”
  • Mile 3.01:  “STFU.  There will be no misery this time, dumbass.  Anything after three miles is a bonus.”
  • Mile 3.15:  “Let the bonus begin!  Oh, and if I run all the way down the street, I can walk when I get to the corner.”
  • Mile 3.4:  “Little kids in footsie pajamas!  Wave carefully so you don’t trip but run fast so they’re impressed.”
  • Mile 3.5:  “I don’t feel like dying yet… Hmmm.  I looked total hotness at the beach this weekend.  I think I deserve a new bikini.  I think I’ll get it when I can run five miles.”
  • Mile 3.6:  “I feel total hotness, as in overheated, right now.  Turn the corner, walktime.”
  • Mile 3.64:  “If I let myself walk all the way to the next corner, I have to run the entire rest of the way.  Deal?”
  • Mile 3.66:  “Um, deal–there went the corner.  Guess I’m running the rest of the way. “
  • Mile 3.7:  “I can totally make it to the Khan’s house, which is where four miles ends!  I just hope Mr. Khan isn’t shirtless today.”
  • Mile 3.8-3.99:  “Don’tdiedon’tpukedon’tstopdon’tswear.”
  • Mile 4.0:  “DONE!  Walk.  I wish Mrs. Nike Plus had a fun accent. Maybe my mom should be hired by Nike to do the Mrs. Nike Plus voice.  I wish I had my mom’s accent, but I can’t fake it.  See?  That wasn’t so hard.  Dumbass.”

All stronger language was removed from the transcript, but I’ll leave it to you to imagine where I peppered my train of thought with obscenity.  Whatever, it worked!!  I made it without wanting to burst into tears at any point.  I think I need a transcript of today’s last miles for the next four mile run.  I foresee running with paper–and tripping.

I’d love to hear what other runners do to power through the last mile/s–how do you keep yourself going?  What tricks do you use when running longer distances?


The four miles definitely brightened my day, as did a super-bright favorite outfit combo:

New Look cardigan, Kohl's top, Marshall's suit skirt, Target shoes

A short but lovely lunchtime swim, and a delicious wrap with tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and peanut sauce a la Little A:

I’m off to brighten my bed–I’m beat.

3 Responses

  1. I did the Shamrock 8k last month and I kept telling myself “I am NOT going to walk! I am NOT going to walk!” And then the last mile came and I could see the finish line and I told myself “I’m almost there!” And I made it across the finish line in 52 minutes, without walking at all!

  2. I loved this! I was totally cracking up reading your thought process. So funny!

    I am not a runner anymore so I can’t really give good advice. But back when I could run more often, I would assign myself a certain # of miles and I would do them. No matter what. No wonder that I have knee issues now!!

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