One of the challenges of the long run or bike is trying to occupy your mind with thoughts to eliminate the mind-numbing boredom of repetitive motion. Sure, there are the occasional mystical moments (though I have had maybe five in my life) when you forget about time and space during an entire workout. Most of the time, however, it is a grind, especially if done alone, which represents 99% of my workouts. And don't even try to pretend that 72 laps in a pool is enlightening. Counting, even done slowly, is not a transcendental experience.
That is why it is extremely frustrating that almost every endurance athlete never gives a very good answer to the "what do you think about while working out" question. Usually they say something stupid like "I think about my workout." That can't be.
Here is my top 10 list of things I think about during the "fun" 14 mile runs
1. Play mathematical games to make the distance seem reasonable (e.g., when I get to the stop sign I am 12% done).
2. Think of three important things I have to do when I finish running. They are always simple (buy stamps, brush teeth, etc.) After the run I want to keep this accomplishment thing going
3. List of cute woman who think gaunt men are hot. Very quick game; takes about .1 miles).
4. Analyze subplots from that week's Laguna Beach and Real World episodes. This cannot be done on a run of less than 6 miles.
5. Compare Yankee 1998, 2005 and 1977 teams. Hard to pick against a team with Jeter AND Paul O'Neil.
6. Determine the best place to buy a house. This is admittedly an overplayed bit. It will be resolved by the end of the NYC Marathon. Swear to god.
7. Measure how faded the mile marker signs painted on JFK Blvd. for the Bay to Breakers are getting. I run the same route way too much.
8. Contemplate why the hot female runner says hi to me when she is with her male friend, but ignores me when she is alone? She is teasing me but why? Is she secretly in love with me? Is she trying to make him jealous? Is she aware that I am at least 60 seconds faster per mile? Show some goddamn respect.
9. Annoy myself by rehashing petty things that happened at work. This is a good way to stimulate the production of adrenaline.
10. Listen to Bolero in my head. Why is this motivating? Who doesn't remember the gold medal performance of Torville and Dean at the 84 Olympics. One of the top 5 inspirational moments in sports history. Sports perfection.