Running provides the perfect opportunity for thinking. In the 21st Century, we’re often overwhelmed with distractions and massive to do lists which prevent us from quality thinking time. In this article, we’ll explore things to think about whilst running. Enjoy, and happy thinking.
‘Very little is needed to make a happy life; It is all within yourself, your way of thinking.’ Marcus Aurelius
Why is thinking important?
In modern life we’re all so busy with our endless number of tasks to complete and countless distractions, which stop us from having time to think.
Careers, social media, relationships, Netflix, books and music, are all examples of things which command our attention daily. Whilst there is nothing wrong with these things, too much of them means you have no thinking time.
Why is running perfect thinking time?
When we run, we are 100% committed to the moment. The usual distractions which interrupt our thinking time (like email, social media, work etc) cannot distract us whilst we run. You’re in the moment and fully focused on moving your arms and legs in motion to propel yourself forward.
Imagine trying to respond to an email or checking social media whilst running. Not only would this be extremely difficult, it’d also be dangerous. Looking down at a device means you can’t keep your eyes on what’s ahead. Running into the road, tripping over or smashing into a pedestrian, could all happen if you’re distracted. Therefore, running require commitment to the moment.
Because running commands our full commitment, it’s the perfect time to think. Whether you run for 15, 30 minutes, or even a couple of hours, you’ll have a nice block of time to yourself. When else in life do you get an uninterrupted period to think about everything? If you’re like me, and most other people, probably not very often.
What are some things to think about whilst you run?
1. Running Goals
It’s important for runners to have a goal to work towards always. Whether you’re a beginner, an intermediate runner or a seasoned veteran, having a goal is crucial for staying motivated to make progress.
Think about what you’re trying to achieve with your current training regime. Is your goal to run a marathon? To lose 20 pounds? Is it to be fitter, or run a sub 20-minute 5K?
Once you have your goal in mind, think about how you are progressing towards it. Has progress been smooth, average or a train wreck? Are there any issues with your training regime which you need to solve? Is it possible you have set a goal which is unrealistic, or one that’s too easy and not challenging enough?
Sometimes we get so caught up in the act of just running, that we forget to remember our goals!
By asking and answering these questions, you’ll be able to review your current goal and determine whether you’re on track to achieving it.
You may need to adjust the goal i.e. reduce weekly mileage or the time you’re going to get a personal best for. It could be possible you need to forget about the goal and set a new one altogether.
Whatever the situation, thinking about your running goals whilst on a run is a constructive way to make use of your time whilst working out. Give it a try.
For more information on setting running goals, check out the following post:
2. A project you have on the go
Most people always have a project on the go. Whether it’s decorating a home, writing a novel, organising an event, preparing for an exam or something at work, projects take up lots of our time and it’s wise to think about them when we can.
A project is defined as ‘an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned to achieve a particular aim.’
Notice the words ‘carefully planned’ which suggest lots of thought and consideration need to go into the successful completion of a project. It’s important to think about all the little details behind a project which all need to be right for the ‘particular aim’ to be achieved.
You need matching colours within a set budget when decorating a house, whilst you need to ensure enough study time to prepare properly for an academic exam. All projects require thinking time to plan and prepare for, so do this whilst you run.
This project thinking time will give you peace and mind, making you feel like you’re on top of everything when you return from the run.
Most of us are lucky to have family in our lives. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunties, uncles, cousins, husbands, wives, granddads and grandmothers. Even though they can drive us around the bend sometimes, we love our families deep down!
Whilst you run, it’s nice to think about how grateful you are for having your family. That time your husband took you out for a surprise dinner, the time your parents were there when you needed them the most, or that time you went for a drink with your cousins and had one of the best nights out in your life.
As you think about things to be grateful to your family for, you’ll probably crack a smile and feel positive whilst you run. Particularly useful if you’re climbing a hill or just have no more energy!
When I run, I always think about nice ways I can surprise my family. Whether that’s getting gifts for birthdays, going out for dinner or simply just offering my company, it’s always nice to have ways to stay in touch with our loved ones.
Think about your family whilst you run, come up with ways to stay in touch and you will feel blessed.
If you run with family members, or are thinking about getting your family in the running shoes, check out the following post:
4. Places you want to visit
The world is a big place and there’s a lot of it to explore. Most people love travelling and have plans to visit as many places as they can in life. Therefore, use the time spent running to think about where you’d like to go and why.
Want to see lions and gazelles on an African safari? Are you drawn to the hustle and bustle of New York? Does medieval architecture of European cities inspire you? Are you wanting sun and adventure in Australia? Think about all the places you’d like to go, then whittle it down to your top three. Doing this exercise means thinking about the logistics of travelling to these places i.e. the cost, availability, time needed.
Thinking about travelling to new places whilst running makes it much more likely you’ll visit them as you consciously work through the travel planning.
Everything we do starts with a thought. Who knows, maybe you’ll visit your dream holiday destination or book a backpacking holiday when you return from the run.
Running presents, a wonderful opportunity to explore – and get lost in – nature. Whilst running, think about all the beautiful nature around you.
There are plenty of natural locations you can run in. By the sea, through woods or forests, up a mountain and along a river path are all great examples of natural settings I regularly run through.
Thinking about nature on my runs is incredibly calming and helps me to appreciate the little things in life. It’s easy to run through an environment without giving a second thought to what is around us. However, a little thought towards the nature around us can go a long way.
When I see something eye-catching whilst running through nature, I take a moment to think and appreciate it. It makes me feel much more calm, relaxed and happy. Positive energy which stays with me through the rest of the day.
Seeing a beautiful bunch of bluebells in a forest, witnessing a scurrying fox by a river or being mesmerised by the crashing of the waves onto the beach, are all inspiring natural occurrences.
Taking a moment to think about the wonders of nature whilst you run can leave you feeling calm and relaxed.
For more information on running through nature, check out the following post:
6. Side hustles
Thinking about a side hustle whilst you run is perhaps one of the most productive ways of thinking during a workout.
A side hustle is an way to make money outside of your usual job. It allows you to make more money, often in a creative way which you enjoy, to help give you freedom to pursue your passions. Most people work in a job which they typically don’t mind, and rarely enjoy. However, a side hustle gives you the opportunity to take what you love and do it for a profit. A win-win!
Freelance writing, affiliate marketing, baking cakes, playing a musical instrument, starting a blog and photography are all examples of great side hustles which can earn you supplementary income.
Whatever side hustle you’re interested, running provides a window of quality thinking time to properly plan your side hustle.
How much money you need to get started, marketing strategies, what equipment you’ll need and so on. Use your running time to think about your side hustle and watch not only your bank account go up, but also discover you can make extra money doing something you’re passionate about.
7. The day ahead
If you’re an early bird runner, thinking about the day ahead can give you a fantastic head start.
Our days tend to be filled with chaos. Making breakfast, taking the kids to school, commuting via public transport, presenting in meeting, talking to clients, family activities, walking the dog and so on.
The list of potential daily events is endless. Without a quick mental plan of how the day will run, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control.
However, thinking about the day ahead whilst you run can help you feel calmer and more in control as to what awaits you. Whilst running you can decide exactly what you’ll have for breakfast, what points your presentation will cover, a romantic gesture to your spouse, where you will walk your dog, and so on.
Thinking about the day ahead on a run is amazing for mental piece of mind and helps to eliminate anxiety about the unknown of the near future. A little mental planning goes a long way, which is why thinking about the day ahead on your run is so effective.
There you have it. 7 things to think about whilst you run. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and will enjoy the many benefits of uninterrupted periods of thinking; it’s one of my favourite things about running!