When someone you sort of know finds out that you are one of those “runner people”, inevitably the ensuing conversation will lead to a question from that “not a runner - but somewhat curious and at least polite enough to ask some sort of question to demonstrate some sort of interest – person” to you the runner: “Wow, you run a lot, so what do you think about when you are out running?
When first posed with this question I often times will be at a loss for words – not because I don’t want to talk to this non runner person, but because when I run I don’t think at all. At least I don’t think that I think. I think. But I think that maybe if I did think while I am out running then what exactly would I think about? Would I have enough things to think about? Would I think about running things? About non-running things? Would I think about things to think about? Would I get bored? Will I run faster? Will I run slower? Will I run further? Will I fall off the trail because I am not thinking, or thinking too much?
What a dilemma! Why am I thinking about this now? Why can’t I now stop thinking about it? Have I scared myself away from running because I am too afraid of the consequences of thinking and running at the same time? What can I do, where should I go? I can’t ask my friends who are runners for fear that they will tell me that I think too much, or don’t think enough? I dare not ask a non-runner because they clearly have too much to think about. Or do they think about not running as much as I have apparently begun thinking about thinking, while running.
Being overcome with clearly thinking about all this way too much I approached my next run soon after these thoughts come into my mind. I can’t sleep the night before. I am unfocused as I try to eat some breakfast and catch myself trying to spread peanut butter on my cereal when I thought I was eating a bagel. I forget where I am going and miss the turn off to the trail head – by 16 miles. Finally I arrive at the trail, a nervous wreck. My mind is racing, my heart is clearly over-elevated and I am not even wearing one of those funny looking heart rate monitor thingys.
What will happen on this run? Will I be able to think and run at the same time? Will I be able to run at all? Will I be able to think at all? Did I remember to bring my shoes? Will other runners pass me and say something like “clearly you are thinking and running at the same time”. Will that encourage me? Will that discourage me? How will they know that I am thinking or not thinking? How will I know if I am thinking? Should I carry a pen and paper to write down any thoughts that come into my mind?
Finally I get out of the car, making sure my shoelaces are tied, I start my watch and start running. And I run. I run some more. Miles go by, I keep running. Eventually I turn around and run back to my car.
I am asked later that day a question by that non-runner person: “So how far did you run today?” I politely reply with how many miles I ran. They respond with: “Wow, that’s a long way. What did you think about when you were running?”
“Not much, I just enjoyed my run”.