I know this seems like a weird topic for my first personal post; however, it is a question I am asked often. The exchange usually goes:
(friend/family/acquaintance: so how long do your runs take?
me: Depends on the distance, usually an hour or so for shorter runs but up to 4 hours for my longest runs.
other person: wow… so do you listen to music?
me: no, its not really safe when you are running on roads and sidewalks. I’ve gotten used to not having it.
other person: so what do you think about for that long?
So what I think about…
Running has become my personal time, my chance to get away from things.
I usually start off thinking about events of the previous week or day. These thoughts are concerning both events in my life and also what is going on in our country. I consider what is going on in Syria and the recent White House issues, movies I have seen of late, and friends I should catch up with. I also think about encounters I might have had and how I did, or should have responded to them.
A certain person who will remain anonymous often dominates my mind for the beginning of a run. This person has known me for my entire fitness journey, but due to circumstances beyond my control they have decided to leave my life. Because they were so involved in my running, I feel a certain hole in my heart each and every time I begin a run. I so dearly want to text this person and ask what they are doing for their long run this week, or brag about my recent speed improvement because I know they would be proud. This is not possible and I have managed to push these thoughts from my head with increasing efficacy in the last month or so.
I then briefly consider my running form. Are my shoulders back, head up, core active, am I striking on my midfoot? How the weather is often comes to mind at this point as well.
As I mentioned, I tend not to run with headphones. I do have a Garmin 410, and so about once every 10 minutes I will check my pace to make sure that I am on target for the distance I am doing. This helps keep me from overexerting or getting lazy.
For the most part though, I just experience life and running. So many people do everything they can to not exist in their world. I walk around campus and see the majority of people around me talking on their phones, playing games or listening to their ipods. We are the result of millions of years of evolution creating an awesome form to take in and experience the world around us…why would you want to miss that?
For the most part then I can say that I think about the beauty of the trail and trees, the adorable dogs, the feeling of sun on my skin, the exertion of my legs and my ease of breath. I consider the burning in my quads when I ascend a hill and the gleam of the sun on water. I think about the final minutes of a marathon when the world drifts and the only purpose you can conceive for your body is to push through till that finish line. I think about why and how I experience life and the individuality of my experience. No one else will feel this trail in exactly the same way or time that I am right now, and I never will again.
I try to take everything in and allow my mind to have that peace that exists without constant input from the internet, phone, television or music. I truly believe that this is how we are supposed to experience running, without distraction.