Embarrassing Episodes: Running Music Video

This week for the Couch to 5K I graduated to running for three straight minutes at a time. On Sunday night I looked over the workout for the week and audibly gasped. “Three straight minutes of running? I’ve only run for like a minute at a time—are these people INSANE?” Possibly.

I procrastinated the Monday workout for a long time. I putzed around the apartment, made myself a cup of coffee (or two), watched backlogged YouTube videos, did some dishes—anything to avoid running for three straight minutes. I am a weakling, and even the idea of running for that long sounded terrible.

I finally got outside around 1PM, and when Constance said “start jogging” for the three-minute interval, I did something that didn’t quite feel like running. It felt like speed walking, excessive limb jostling that kind of looked like slow-motion jogging. I always kind of pity those runners when I see them on the street. “Please stop honey, you look like you’re gonna die. Are you even running, really?” (Karma, I can hear you laughing.) Over the course of the run I lost a whole minute on my average running speed (last week I was running at 9-minute miles, I’ve crawled to a 10-minute miles this week). I somehow succeeded by distracting myself. Rather than focusing on the “MY LEGS ARE LITERALLY GOING TO FALL OFF AND MY HEART WILL BURST THROUGH MY CHEST LIKE AN ALIEN” I started to use the time to plot-map my novel. I thought through scenes that I’d been stuck on, worked through backstories for some minor characters. Did I feel all three minutes? Sure. Heart-bursting-from-my-chest felt those three minutes. But I finished them. I ran (read: crawled) the whole time. And Constance’s heart-warming, sounds-like-she’s-giggling “walk” came through in the middle of a thought, so that it was kind of surprising that I was done. I didn’t want to keep running, I wanted to stop and fall down forever when she said I could walk, but it still did come as a surprise. “I did that? Like, I really just did that? But… how?”

Today I pushed myself a little harder. That 10:09 minute mile was a slap in the face. I mean, I didn’t even feel like I had to puke, so what was the point, really? Today I couldn’t concentrate on the plot-mapping, so I tried a different route. I run in a fairly secluded area of town (lots of houses, but not many pedestrians), so I turned up the music in my headphones, and let the imaginary music video start. There is a wonderful release in mouthing along to the lyrics of a ridiculous song, especially if you’re trying to stop your brain from the loop of “WE WILL DIE THIS WAY.” A good pump-up song should be more than just a mental pump-up—get physical about it. By now my workout mix is getting a bit old, it doesn’t quite get me as excited as it first did. So how do I combat that? Mental music video. Just go for it. Make it a giant running/dance party. Get crazy, turn it up, throw your limbs around a bit. I am confident I looked like an idiot—100% confident. But if you saw someone going for a run while mouthing the words from their headphones and dancing a bit you’d probably think, at most, “well, that person is having fun.” And that person will look at you for just thirty seconds anyway, and really, how terrible is thirty seconds of embarrassment in the grand scheme of things? Thirty seconds of embarrassment got me a 9:48 mile today.

Will I do this in an actual 5K? Probably not. But to get the endorphins flowing and my mind heading the right direction, I will run-dance for a bit. Want to look like an idiot with me?

90s and 2000s songs are a great start. You already know the lyrics.



  1. Hahahaha… great post on so many levels. I’ve heard of the “Run-Walk strategy” for marathons but you might really have something with this “run-dance” thing. Believe it or not, i hated running for about 10 years after high school. Now my running hobby borders on obsession. Here’s a few tips or general thoughts I can give you based on my recent transition:
    – “Slow” is relative and nearly everyone considers themselves slow. No matter how much you improve, there will always be someone faster that makes you feel slow. The only person you’re competing with is yourself. If you can run faster or farther than you did before, take pride in that!
    – You don’t have to be an engineer to recognize that every type of machine wears down, becomes slower and less efficient the more you use it. As you put more miles on your car, the tires begin to wear out, the air filters get clogged, the engine parts begin to wear, the fuel mileage goes down, and the power is reduced. The human body is different, it defies logic (at least for engineers) by getting faster, stronger and more efficient the more you use it. It’s an amazing ability that shouldn’t be overlooked.
    – Running with other people is an excellent way to push yourself to become faster, make sure you don’t skip workouts since people are counting on you, and adds a social aspect to an otherwise very individual sport/hobby. Just don’t run with people who will talk negatively about how hard it is or how much it hurts.
    – One of the best quotes I’ve heard about running is “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”
    – Inner monologue is extremely influential on your performance and perceived effort. If you think negatively about how hard it is or how much you want to stop, you will really suffer. Thinking positively is really key. Focus on how much you’ve already finished, not how much is remaining. Think about how much stronger or faster you’ll be as a result of pushing through the pain, not how much your legs hurt at the moment. Lie to yourself if you must, tell yourself it isn’t that hard and repeat the thought until you convince yourself it’s true.
    – Research the central governor theory. I wont do it justice, but basically the idea is your brain is the limiter of your performance, not your body. Sure, your body plays a critical role, but your brain will slow you down well before you reach the limits of your body. Your brain has systems in place to make sure you don’t run fast enough or far enough to actually kill yourself. When you first start running or try to run faster than you have before, your central governor kicks in and tells your body it needs to slow down because this is an abnormal feeling of discomfort. Your brain is subconsciously doing it’s job of protecting your body. I think as much as 50% of your training is psychological – convincing yourself, proving to yourself with repetition that this feeling of discomfort is sustainable and it’s not going to kill you. You’re re-wiring your central governor to change the limits it puts on your body. Recognizing this reinforces my point about the positive inner monologue.
    – Final though for the evening: if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. This post about dancing while running tells me you’re doing it right and enjoying yourself. Maybe I should be learning from you on that topic.

    1. Thanks, Tim! This is great feedback! It’s a real comfort to know that a big part of running is psychological. Clearly, that is a huge hurdle for me, so it’s nice to know that even a marathon runner has to overcome some negative brain. Clearly, the endorphins are helping this process. I don’t think I could dance-run without them. I think when I get to a sustained runtime (I can run the whole 30 minutes of couch to 5K) I’d like to start running with people. It would be a great distraction.
      You’re great. Seriously. Thanks for marrying my sister. 😀

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