I took up counting during running when I was training for my second ultra.
It was a way to pass the time, and try to keep my cadence at something approaching 180 steps (90 strides) per minute. I've been given to understand that running along at this cadence is a good way to keep from overstriding, which has led to all manner of issues for people in the past and me in particular.
So I count, and have my garmin bleep at me every minute so I have some idea of how I'm doing.
Yesterday I forgot my garmin, and things became a bit different. I wasn't counting, which let all manner of distracting and will sapping thoughts flood into my head. It became difficult to run at all, and almost impossible to run well. Flats became difficult, and I was walking the uphills a lot more than I was running them. A pleasant, easy run through the woods because a slogfest.
At times each step became a struggle, and if I had been on a track I would've probably just given up, jumped into my car, and gone home. I really didn't want to be there, which is a pretty sad state of affairs. Most of the time, trail running is what I prefer to do most.
So three thoughts occur to me from this experience- the first is that I'd better start working on other mental techniques to keep me going. The second is that next time, I'd better not forget my watch. And lastly, in light of my last post, I guess the irony gods wanted to teach me a lesson.