This week my friend won a competition on social media which involved posting a photo showing ‘what you think about whilst running’. I also entered using the image featured, with a comical caption saying ‘who the hell is this ruining my selfie?’… Clearly this thought does not go through my head on every run I complete! But what do I actually think about when running?
During my London Marathon training, when I could be out running for three hours or more on long runs, people would often pose me that very question…and I would not know how to answer. I don’t make lists of things I need to do, I don’t listen to music or any form of audio, I don’t even fantasise about what I am going to eat when I finish running! Instead I think I very much tune into my running, as any thoughts I am able to actually recall having are generally associated to the run in progress.
I regularly engage in what I call ‘running maths’. Doing crazy sums in my head to work out how far I have to go, or what pace I need to run at. A 16km run suddenly becomes a 10k, plus a 5km, plus a tiny kilometre just to make it home. 6km to go means if I run at roughly 5min kilometres that’s only 30mins more of running until the end. Considering my mental maths is not my strong point anyway, let alone when I am running, calculating the pace I should be running at can often take a good few minutes of my time.
I also frequently have running related conversations with myself in my head. Spotting a fellow runner on the horizon causes a mental debate about how to react. Smile? Say ‘Hi’? Nod my head? Do nothing? Whatever I chose seems to be wrong, as I am often either ignored, or the person looks suitably shocked that I have chosen acknowledge them!
My mental debates also occur with cars. I like to play a bit of a guessing game about whether they are going to stop and let me cross; or if they are going to force me to stop, pause the Garmin and stand irritably on the curb. Then of course there is the ongoing ponderings about how the run itself actually feels. Do my legs ache? Is my IT band starting to niggle? Or even the almost unthinkable ‘why does this run feel so good’?!
One thought which I can recall particularly getting me through my marathon training was this blog. I would often set myself the challenge of taking a good selfie or finding that perfect photo which, when uploaded to my blog, would encapsulate that training week. I remember Easter Sunday in particular spending a good hour and a half on my long run trying to spot the perfect location to take a selfie with a set of daffodils! The only issue with taking selfies was that often I would finish my run, review the photo I had taken and realise what a sweaty mess I looked liked – sometimes whatever you think about there is just no escaping from the reality of running!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...