Creative Motivation

While marathon training is physically going well, it's been a little more mentally challenging than usual. I'm not sure if this is a habit I've developed because of social media, but I've recently noticed that I have a really short attention span.

During work meetings my mind wanders off and when called upon I have no idea what was being discussed. I often have to rewind a television show that I'm watching because I got distracting reading Twitter/Blogs/Facebook/Instagram/Text Messaging.

So you can imagine how even more difficult it has been to stay focused on the task at hand during my runs; particularly on long runs.

Since 99.9% of the time I run alone, there is plenty of opportunity for my mind to wander. My mind moves a million miles a minute with fluttering, distracting thoughts that seem to cover everything under the sun. Sometimes it is too much to take and I feel so overwhelmed.

Over the past three weeks I've run a 13-miler, a should-have-been-14-miler, and a 15-miler. The elapsed time for each has been sometimes more or less 3 hours long. There were no issues physically - my legs and lungs felt great during the entirety of all three runs. But my mind has been terribly distracted and unfocused.

At first I thought it was just an anomaly. But three weeks in a row? It's a problem. And I was at a loss for how to address this problem.

My therapist suggested finding a playlist that had narration to encourage staying focused. I searched the Internet and asked around but didn't seem to find anything like it.

A day or so later, when I was distracted during a work meeting and fidgeting with my iPhone, I remembered the Voice Memo app that comes pre-programmed on iPhones.

The iPhone Voice Memo App
The iPhone Voice Memo App

This app records audio snippets that you can then share by email or text message.

Clearly I have not used this app in a very long time...
Clearly I have not used this app in a very long time...

All of sudden an idea popped into my head...

I could record messages on this app and then email them to myself. The audio file saves as an .mp4 file, which I could then transfer to my Running playlist in iTunes!

I did a quick test and voila, it worked like a charm!

But then I thought to myself, how cool would it be to have my friends and family record messages for me?! I quickly sent out an email and got a few!

After doing some minor file conversations (from those with Android phones), I was able to add those messages to my playlist for last Saturday's run.

As I mentioned (link), the run still wasn't easy. Every fiber in my being screamed to not do it, but I fought as best as I could to get the miles done anyway.

And it helped so much to hear...

+ My Dad, a former high school cross-country coach, telling me to run as if I was airborne...

+ My Mom telling me to "suck it up" and keep going (she actually said those words too, very unlike her...)

+ Renee tell ingme how I motivate her (I still find this hard to believe....)

And for some reason my iPod shuffle failed to play the message from Alyssa (that is 2.5 mins long!) that I was so looking forward to hearing. I haven't listened to it yet and will save it for next week's long run.

It was as if these people were running with me, even though they weren't. It was cool to hear a message, and then have it followed up by a song that related to it. Technology these days...I tell you...

Overcoming my focus problems is still an ongoing effort, but this little creative way of finding encouragement has helped me to stay motivated; it sure helped a lot.

If you are so inclined, I'd love to receive more messages to add to my playlist. It doesn't have to be long, just something that you need to hear or that you say to yourself that helps you get through a difficult moment during a run when you just want it to be over.