Monday, June 22, 2009

Games Runners Play

One of the many things I love about running is the solitude. But there is only so much I can reflect on in 2 hours. If you run as often and as far as I do, you need more ways to help pass the time. After polling runners, I'm finding that the games we played as a child are also being played on the running trail. And runners are also making up games on the spur of the moment.

The following is a collection of games you can play and ideas you can use to make your runs more interesting and entertaining. This has been compiled from the gracious contribution of the members of my Linkedin groups- Networking Marathoners and Team In Training Linked.

I've divided the list into 3 groups: Fun & Games, Practical Play, and The More the Merrier. Some of the games have been renamed and modified. Feel free to create your own variation as you desire.

FUN & GAMES
  1. The Hunter- pick a rabbit (someone off in the distance) and see if you can catch up to them and "hunt" them down. Once you've reached your mark, run your comfortable pace until you find another "rabbit," and repeat. This is great for speed workouts.
  2. The Counting Game- Count the items you see on your run. For example: telephone poles, mailboxes, animals, people who smile or wave at you, etc.
  3. The Race- This works well in neighborhoods. You'll be playing against a phantom runner. For each mailbox you pass, give yourself a point. When a vehicle passes you, the phantom (of course, you'll be playing the phantom runner) gets to count mailbox for points until it's your turn again, which is when the next vehicle passes by. Your goal is to accumulate the most points.
  4. The Memorizing Game- One contributor likes to memorize road-kill he passes in order that it appears. For example: skunk, raccoon, raccoon, snake, etc. An alternative to this (and not so morbid) is memorizing the types of live animals you see in order.
  5. The Alphabet Game- Pick a topic, such as "fruit/vegetables," and then work through the alphabet listing the different types of fruits: apple, banana, carrot, daikon, etc.
  6. The Letter Game- Pick a letter of the alphabet and a theme. For example, I'll pick the letter "S" and work on "famous people." In your head, list as many famous people you know that begin with the letter "S." Other themes you can use are movies, music, books, etc.
  7. The List Game- Choose a category, such as movies, and list all the movies you've seen. You can list the titles of books you've read, the names of people you know, the types of cars you've owned in the past, etc.
  8. The Guessing Game- Guess the time it would take for you to reach a certain point on your run or the end of your run. You can also guess the time it takes for someone to catch up to you or the time it takes before someone smiles at you.
PRACTICAL PLAY
  1. Memorize lines to a favorite song, poem, or Shakespearean play. You can carry the words on small pieces of paper with you on your run.
  2. Utilize the time to work on your hobby. If you are a gardener, for example, observe interesting plant combinations. If you are an architect, observe the structures of houses and buildings. If you are a writer, use the time to gather ideas and draft your story in your head.
  3. Listen to audio books on your run or listen to your favorite podcast.
  4. Try solving basic math problems in your head. For more practical calculations, try calculating your pace time. For example, what pace would you need to run to do a 4-hour marathon or how many miles can you cover in an hour at an 8:25 pace?
  5. Choose a "victim" (with a similar pace) and begin a conversation. Who knows. You may find yourself a life-long friend or a running companion for future runs. If the conversation goes stale, you can wish them well and find another runner.
  6. Recite poems in cadence with your steps. One runner suggested, "The Road Less Traveled," by R. Frost. Reciting the poem helped him control his breathing.
  7. Using your cadence as a beat, write your own rap song.
  8. On painful runs, a contributor suggested naming the exact muscles or tendons that are hurting. This makes a great anatomy test.
  9. Use your runs as a time of prayer and reflection.
  10. Go through the alphabet in your mind and say at least three things for each letter that you are grateful for. A contributor called this the "alphabet gratitude list."
THE MORE THE MERRIER:
  1. The Treasure Hunt- This is great for a team run with a captain. The captain can put together a list of well-known landmarks along the route. As individuals in a group or as separate pacing groups, check off items on the list.
  2. The Introduction- The first person will start with the letter "A." You'll make a fictitious introduction of yourself that starts with that letter. For example, "A," my name is Amanda, I live in Alabama, my husband's name is Alex and we eat apples. The next person goes to the next alphabet: "B," my name is Bob, my wife's name is Brenda, we live in Baltimore, and we like playing basketball. Each person continues until you get to "Z."

"R." My name is Running-girl. I live near Rockaway Beach, and I love running, 'riting, and ruminating. Happy running!

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