Today at track, Coach T started to introduce our workout. Then another runner showed up with a yellow labrador wearing a vest. Coach T stopped to tell us that the labrador’s name was Bob and that Bob was in training to become a guide dog. Coach T then told us not to play with or distract Bob. Up until this point, I was not interested in Bob. Right up until Coach T told me not to touch him.
There’s a great experiment in thought suppression called the White Bear experiment. Basically these psychologists brought undergrads into their lab and gave them a task to think about (like track). Then they told them to think about this task for 5 minutes, but not to think about a white bear. Whatever you do, do not think about a white bear.
This is how the rest of Coach T’s speech went in my head.
OK, so you guys are going to run a mile warm-up
Then you’re going to run a mile at Threshold pace. That’s a pace of…
Then you’re going to run 2×800 at Threshold with a rest of…
Then you’re going to run 4×400 and…
Got it? Did you get all that Megan?
NO! I did not get all that! You told me not to touch this dog and all I can think about is touching the dog. I have never wanted to touch a dog more in my entire life.
I’m not sure if there’s a lesson in all this. Perhaps it’s that if you really want to think about something, try not thinking about it. So, maybe don’t think about running. Don’t think about running for 5 minutes. Start now.