What Do You Think About When You Run?

AJW philosophizes on what we think about when we run.

By on August 12, 2016 | 7 comments

AJW's TaproomLast weekend over coffee with a local philosophy professor I was asked, “What do you think about when you run?”

I’ve been asked this question before, of course, but something about the timing and the source gave me pause. In that context, I thought I’d ask around. The responses I got were wide ranging and thoughtful:

“Often running, but sometimes anything but…”

“Things I’ve been trying to work through.”

“As little as possible. The run is a chance to turn off the brain and just be.”

“When I run it’s my universe. Enjoying being natural.”

“Everything. Nothing. Whatever is necessary.”

“When it’s going good, I think of those in pain. When I am in pain, I think about how good I have it.”

Given these and the myriad other responses I received, I thought to myself, Perhaps I ought to think a bit more deeply about my answer?

In the moment, I dodged the question but on my run the next morning, I began digging for answers. As I am in the midst of one of life’s inevitable pivot points, the answer became more complicated and the search became more intense. At other times of transition over the past two decades, I have counted on running to provide me with a muse. That place in which I could bang ideas around and search for solutions to problems and challenges.

Over two decades, running has been for me that constant companion to be counted on in moments of change and transformation. Helping me with endings and beginnings, running allows me to come to a place of balance when instability runs amok. And so, I guess my answer to my philosopher friend might not be a simple one because, in essence, what I think about when I run is mostly life and living, making sense of the vicissitudes of my existence, and providing a place from which I can move on.

And, perhaps most of all, running provides me access to my wild, animal side. We are all, after all, still animals and getting into a flow state on a run opens that door for me. Once open, that door not only exposes my heart and soul, but inspires my mind as well. When all is said and done, what I think about when I run is me, my own fragility, and the ability to hope for a better future.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week is one I’ve been trying to get my hands on for a while and at long last I did. The Alchemist in Stowe, Vermont recently began producing the “baby brother of Heady Topper,” which they affectionately call Focal Banger. I single IPA brewed in the classic tradition, Focal Banger is floral and not overly hoppy with an amazingly creamy finish. It was clearly worth the wait!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • What do you think about when you run?
  • How does what you think about vary from day to day, season to season, or changes in your mood or life position?
Andy Jones-Wilkins
finished in the top 10 men at the Western States 100 7-straight times. He's sponsored by Patagonia and Drymax socks and is iRunFar's editorialist.