3 methods for counting lots of laps

Making ink marks on my arm with a silly pen worked once, but it's not a method with any staying power.

Making ink marks on my arm with a silly pen worked once, but it’s not a method with any staying power.

How do you get used to the idea of running 204 laps around a 208-meter indoor track – especially when you don’t own a GPS watch and want to resist the temptation to constantly ask to borrow your son’s Christmas present?

Did I mention that I don’t (yet) have a functioning MP3 player?

Well, I’ve been trying some experiments, and in three recent  “lap runs” of 6, 10 and 7 miles, all three approaches worked fairly well…

Method #1: Make ink marks on your arm with a silly pen

I did this last week during a 48-lap, 6-mile run at the Jorgensen YMCA. The goofy pen was the key. I used a cereal box “Star Wars” pen that my kids later informed me was Bobba Fett. The ironic campiness of the pen masked any humiliation I might’ve felt otherwise.

Method #2  Devise a lap-counting mantra

Saturday’s 10-mile run at the Ossian trail required 8 laps of the 1.25 mile track, which was flooded in one section and  meant getting my feet soaked up to my ankles every time around. (Thank goodness it had warmed up over 50 degrees from last week’s Arctic blast!) Anyway, all I did was say Lap 1, 7 to go. Lap 2, 6 to go. I refused to allow my mind to deviate from this little chant, staying extremely focused on “Lap 4, 4 to go” when it would’ve been far easier to say, “Hey, what a load of crap — you haven’t even gone 5 miles yet and THEN you still have 5 to go!”

This wasn’t the most amazing technique ever, but it was good discipline practice and gave me something to build on for yesterday’s 7-mile  indoor lap run, which led to…

Method #3: The ”99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”/time machine countdown

Lap 74, aka "1974," reminded me the '74 Gran Torino that later became my first car sometime in the early '80s. That's me around age 17, holding some random cat.

Lap 74, aka “1974,” reminded me the ’74 Gran Torino that later became my first car sometime in the early ’80s. This Polaroid shows me sitting on the hood holding some random cat.

I figure 99 laps at the Y would be a little over 12 miles; I had no intention of running that far yesterday after work but I was intrigued by the notion of keeping this song riff in my head for the lap countdown. It was definitely MUCH more enjoyable to count down rather than count up, but what I wound up doing was focusing on each number as a year – and that worked AMAZINGLY WELL.

I’m typically terrible at keeping lap numbers in my head (just ask my sister), but by focusing on, for example, key images and memories from 1999, 1998, and so on, I managed to stay right on track even as my mind enjoyed wandering down memory lane.

I wanted to count down to at least Lap 50, which would give me a minimum of a 6-mile run. I wound up counting down to “1941,” which worked out to around 7 miles.

The cool thing is, whereas methods #1 and #2 were likely 1-hit wonders, I could see building on Method #3 by coming up with more images, memories and historical tidbits for specific years. I was able to come up with something for most years, but it was funny to see what came to mind.

For 1974, for instance, I thought of this General Electric key chain my grandpa gave us connected with some big promotion at the Fort Wayne factory that year, along with the 1974 Gran Torino that later became my first car.

I got kind of skunked on 1955, but then I thought of the 55 mph speed limit, which led me to humming that old Sammy Hagar song, “I Can’t Drive 55.” Which was kind of ironic because on Lap 56 I was thinking of rock and roll tunes from 1956  that I remembered from Dr. Glenn Gass’ “History of Rock and Roll” class at IU. It was kind of weird to go from Elvis to Sammy Hagar as I went back in time. (It was also somewhat appalling, now that we’ve got a kid in college ourselves, to think about paying tuition to learn something I could’ve investigated on my own … not that the Internet was available when I took that class back in 1986.)

Thank goodness for my extra-thick 16-year-old Lands End socks and my refurbished 3-year-old Saucony Kinvaras, both of which got me through repeated swings around a flooded jogging path without blisters.

Thank goodness for my extra-thick 16-year-old Lands End socks and my refurbished 3-year-old Saucony Kinvara (new inserts), both of which got me through repeated swings around a flooded jogging path without blisters. Obviously, I wasn’t too worried about water and slush ruining the appearance of these trusted road warriors…

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8 Responses to 3 methods for counting lots of laps

  1. sarahdudek80 says:

    I once heard of a blind runner who put rubber bands on his arm and switched them to the other arm each lap. Good ideas.

  2. Gunnar says:

    In baseball we track pitch counts with a little clicking device. The downside is you would have to hold it in your hand while running. You could anchor it to your hand with string or rubber bands so you do not drop it.

  3. Gpa says:

    We also use the clicker for counting the number of walleye we catch each day while fishing in Canada.

  4. Gpa says:

    Rudy and I set a one day record last year of 103. As fisherman go, without the clicker the number could’ve been said as least 150.

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