If you can get your mind off the race and onto something else stimulating, entertaining, or otherwise distracting, do it. My favorite way is by talking to other runners, and I’ve done it a lot.

The most memorable time was in Danang Vietnam, in 2018. “Hey how you doing?” I asked the guy in the green Love the Pain trisuit that hadn’t shaved in 5 days. “OK, how about you,” he replied. “You from Mexico?” I inquired, spotting the flag on his bib. We started talking at about the third or fourth km, but we were so distracted we soon lost track of the distances.

The relentless Vietnamese sun was absolutely frying us like meat in a skillet. The heat from the black tarmac radiated up; our skin already burned from 2+ hours on the bike. There wasn’t a lick of shade. The ice in the aid stations was beginning to melt and the only relief was to run faster and finish sooner. Or keep talking.

The Turk, the American, and the Mexican

Another guy joined us, a Turk. He was living in Switzerland but had previously lived in Seattle. He joined our conversation about which words in Spanish start with the letter ‘s’. We talked about the Pacific Northwest, Bern, and Erdoğan.

We talked with the Mexican, Arturo, about how to deal with airlines after they damage your bike. Arturo was a pilot. We discussed so many things that we really forgot we were running. And before I knew it, we had reached kilometer 17 or 18; nearly finished.

However, be aware that not all athletes like this. Not all athletes will want to talk to you, or to anybody for that matter. I’ve tired to talk to dozens; only a few resulted in really good, entertaining, distracting conversations. But it’s worth it to try to find those conversationalists if you want to get your mind off the run.

Arturo and I are now good friends and we have seen each other at the 2018 World Championship in Pt. Elizabeth, South Africa, 2019 World Championship in Nice, France, Ironman Malaysia, and on training rides here in Singapore.

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