A lot of people ask me what I think about when I run, and the truth is, not much. When I run, it’s probably the most zoned out, or “still” my mind is. I don’t think about work, I don’t brood over things, I don’t come up with solutions to problems, and nor do I think of witty or meaningful blog posts to write.
Hours on the road yield no great thoughts or ideas or epiphanies. When I do think, it’s about the kilometres I have left, the worry I have to make it to the finish line in time, the pain and obstacles I try to overcome, and the maths. The maths involves working out how much time I have to complete the race before cutoff, or in a desired time.
These days, since I’ve slowed down so much, mostly I do maths around cutoff times rather than desired times, but after a few hours in the sun, my already inconsistent maths “skills” waiver. For example: “I have four hours to complete 30km. Yay! I can do it!” And then a minute later: “I think it’s actually three and a half hours to complete 30km. Crap! I don’t think I can do it”.
Other times, I’ll think about the chocolate milkshake at the finish (apparently it’s great for recovery – how convenient), the finish line, and often, ideas for tweets and Instagram captions.
But mostly, my mind is still and often vacant, which allows me to escape from myself. The more quiet the run, the more quiet my head, and sometimes, on long beautiful races, without the chatter and fanfare, I’m probably at the most “Zen” I could find myself.
I had this kind of run on the weekend in Clarens, when, running solo against a magnificent backdrop, all I could think about was the beauty around me, and the wonder of my own breath and legs, beating against the tar.
When the nothingness is there, it’s overwhelmingly beautiful. And welcome. And it’s one of the reasons I love running so much.
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