Bouncing a tennis ball while running makes the miles fly by

When I’m training endurance, I play some mind games to help me beat the mileage. (During a half-marathon season, I even got into the habit of recounting my favorite movies, scene by scene, to keep my mind engaged.) a little more fun distance: dribbling a tennis ball…while running.

“I met a woman named Helen four years ago in Puerto Rico when I saw her run and dribble a tennis ball,” Sidibe wrote in a recent Instagram post. “After seeing her come out of it a few times, I was finally able to ask her about it and she told me that she wears it often because it keeps her mind off of herself.” Sidibe goes on to explain that the trick has been helping him train for a 100-mile race in which he will need to slow down to keep his energy up late in the game. Y that keeps you entertained on long, unforgiving training days.

According to Saara Haapanen, a doctoral candidate in sport and exercise psychology at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, Sidibe’s tennis ball trick is absolutely legit. “It provides us with a bit of play and distraction,” she says. “It brings a competitive component and makes it a bit more difficult. As humans, we like to be challenged, and the more difficult it is, the better we feel.”

Of course, you wouldn’t want to try this on, say, a treadmill where you could end up falling off the back of the track. But if you’re just going for a walk outside or running on the road or sidewalk (as long as it’s not a high-traffic area), it’s a pretty solid way to feel like you’re keeping your neurons firing. (Plus, it’ll test your coordination while doing some cardio.)

If you’re looking for other ways to keep your mind occupied while power walking or hitting the pavement, Haapanen has some ideas. “I always suggest changing the pace, maybe going a little faster per block and then a little slower. Constant cardio is pretty boring, so anything that can make it more fun. Side steps or jumping jacks are also a good way to change. increase the speed and rhythm to get the heart beating,” she says.

The lesson here is that workouts don’t have to be so serious all the time. If you’re not enjoying your run or walk, it’s time to get back to having fun.

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