Running Through My Mind: How ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Helps Me With My Tough Runs


First of all, if you haven’t watched Netflix’s original show, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” then you’re missing out. Written and produced by Tina Fey, it has a mix of silly humor with subtle pop culture references, and the characterization is fantastic.

Quick summary: Kimmy Schmidt spent 15 years in an underground bunker in Indiana with three other girls. The man keeping them there, Reverend Wayne Gary Wayne, told them the world had ended, and they were the only survivors. However, they were unknowingly a part of a doomsday cult. Now in 2015, the girls have to blend back in with society, with their last perception of the world being from the eyes of 14-year-olds. Watching Kimmy take on life in New York City is priceless, and never fails to make me laugh.

But this isn’t a review (if it was, the theme song alone would get five stars). Instead, I’m here to tell you how the advice in this sitcom helps make me a mentally stronger runner.

In episode two, Kimmy gets a job as a nanny for a rich family, the Voorhees. After showing up hours late on for her first day, Kimmy is asked to throw a birthday party for one of the children, Buckley, to prove she can do the job.

When Buckley is told he can’t open his presents until his father arrives, he becomes very frustrated, so Kimmy steps in. She reminisces on being in the bunker, where the reverend would make the girls constantly spin a mystery crank, which we later learn was to generate the electricity in his house.

tumblr_o3im2btLgg1tpri36o1_400In the flashback, Kimmy is the one spinning the crank, and one of her bunk-mates asks her how she does it for so long without getting tired. Kimmy replies, “You can stand anything for 10 seconds. Then you just start on a new 10 seconds,” and proceeds to count to 10 four different times.

Despite the childishness in this scene, Kimmy is right – anyone can do anything for 10 seconds, or even 10 minutes.

Yesterday I went for a run in a new neighborhood, and the entire way out was downhill, which I didn’t really notice until my way back up. With more than a mile to go, I was definitely struggling when Kimmy’s advice popped in my head.

While counting to 10 over and over would probably get irritating in anyone’s mind, the optimistic mindset is what’s important; if you make small goals for yourself, you get closer to achieving a bigger goal. When big goals are broken down, you actually feel more accomplishment at every milestone, therefore boosting motivation.

Often when I’m tired, I’ll tell myself, “just get to the next street,” and when I do, instead of stopping, I make myself go to the next street, and continue until I have finished my run. And this doesn’t just apply to running, or spinning a crank – you can set small goals in any aspect of life to get yourself closer to an overall objective.

Even though Kimmy is often an airhead with an unrealistic view on the world, being in the bunker taught her a lot about handling realistic situations. Now, being out of the bunker, Kimmy told Buckley she uses this technique whenever she feels lost or scared while living in New York.

So next time you’re struggling on a run or during a race, just pretend your turning that crank, and the further you go, the closer you are to the finish line. And after you eat some pasta and drink Gatorade, go binge on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.