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An overactive imagination

November 12, 2009

I just read a somewhat alarming article in an old issue of The New Yorker about "phantom itch." It's a phenomenon where you simply think about something irritating--like an ant crawling over their arm--and then get an irresistible urge to scratch. The story made me realize I have a comparable condition, which I call "phantom sprain." All I have to do is imagine going for a run, and I instantly feel knee and ankle pain. It most often occurs on rainy mornings or on days when I'm planning on adding mileage to my route.

The good news is that if you make up a disease, you can make up a cure. And when it comes to "phantom sprain," it really is a case of mind over matter. So now when I'm getting ready to exercise, instead of focusing on the sweat and exhaustion, I anticipate how good I'll feel when the workout is finished. The pain magically vanishes and I'm more motivated than ever to hit the road.

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