Games People Play

By Crabby McSlacker

Do you like to play games with other folks?  Softball, charades, tennis, poker, trivial pursuit, soccer, words with friends etc?

Regular readers would probably not be shocked to discover that I don't.  I am that stubborn and peculiar shirker who sneaks off by herself with a book or a laptop when friends take out the deck of cards or the board games or the volleyball net, and no amount of cheerful hollering and laughter will lure me to the join in.

However, when it comes to playing mind games all by myself?  That's a whole 'nother story! And as you may have discovered, it can be a useful secret weapons in the struggle to stay somewhat healthy and fit.

How Far, How Fast, How Long, How Miserable?

Not everyone who uses indoor exercise equipment pays much attention to the measuring devices that accompany them.

But to me, one of the biggest consolation prizes of being stuck working out on indoor exercise equipment is that the digital feedback means I can challenge and compete with myself in all kinds of weird ways!

While some folks do well dutifully following careful-crafted exercise regimen, I tend to be wildly improvisational, and may not know on a given gym day what sort of Self-Competitions I will be engaging in.

Can I keep up a pace of X miles an hour on the treadmill for 1 minute longer than last time?

How fast can I sprint for 30 seconds without flying off the back of the treadmill?

How fast can I run sideways or backwards with a 15% incline?

How high can I get the "calories per hour" readout to go on the rowing machine even though there is no way in hell I'm ever gonna be rowing for an hour?

Can I add 4 extra minutes to my medium pace elliptical workout by getting through the next song? Can I make that a little longer by rounding up to X number of strides?

And even aside from a particular machine, other challenges are available:

Can I make myself do at least one totally new exercise I've never done before?

How long can I keep making myself do something at the gym, even if it's easy and lame?

How many strength training sets I can endure before rationalizing my way into doing more cardio instead because I hate weights?

Note: these challenges are helpful, but not foolproof.  Sometimes the answer to "how fast?" is "not very" and the answer to "can I...?" is "maybe, but today I just don't f--cking feel like it."


I came across this intriguing relic at a thrift store while doing some holiday shopping...which sure makes you wish you were on my Christmas list, right?

But anyway, as explained above, in so many ways this is not tailored to my personal recreational choices.

If you can't see the top corner, here it is magnified:

Not that I have anything against Christian Games, but I'd probably be more comfortable with the Gay Heathen edition if that were available.

But it did remind me of the strange fun that can be had by imagining that one is Someone Else Entirely, or that there are Higher Stakes Involved in our activities than just the mundane mechanics of daily living.

What if completing two more reps meant you won ten million dollars in some new weird reality show?

What if the running interval you are doing was motivated by a space alien chasing you with a laser gun but who has kinda bad aim so you still have a chance, and if you made it fast enough to your destination you would save the world in some heroic way and besides the gratitude of all of civilization there would be unlimited cake and champagne?

Wait.. There's an App for That!

Well, maybe not the cake and champagne part, but there are cool sounding apps to motivate exercise using imaginary adventures though I haven't tried them personally. But you may want to check out Zombies Run and/or The Walk. And if any of you have tried them, or know of any others, clue me in in the comments! I might even be tempted to check 'em out if they do not require much in the way of interacting with other players.  You know how I am about that.

photo :Tom

'Cause yeah, the only way I'd play even this cute game is if I got to be the pig that eats up everyone else's dinner.

Anyone else play mental games to stay motivated?  Do you play well with others?

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